Uganda 08 diary - Day 2

We were met at Entebbe airport by Bros. Vincent (below centre - Ugandan Provincial) and Dominic (left - Vocations Director and Director of Postulate = pre-training "come-and-see" candidates for our Order). Bro. Dominic was was of the 3 Ugandan Brothers that I met at our Vocations Directors meetings in Rome last summer who fervently encouraged me to come to Uganda with our young people. Bro. Vincent was my contact in Uganda for organising our stay and planning where we would go and what we would do.

From the airport we were taken - all bleary-eyed and in need of sleep after the overnight flight - on a 40 mins. drive to the Ugandan Brothers' lakeside retreat centre just outside Kisubi, the spiritual home of the Brothers' mission in Uganda.

Driving through the Ugandan capital, Kampala, on our way to the Brothers.

Kampala is a sprawling, busily chaotic urban centre with a perhaps surprisingly high number of decent quality dwellings, though later in the trip we did drive through a shockingly poor (though quite small) neighbourhood on our way to one of our schools. Toyota Hiace 15-seater vehicles are to be seen everywhere and function as the main local transport system, bus and taxi in one. No set routes, you just hail one down and join the other passengers inside with what must be an improvised system of priority for being taken to your destination. Motorbike taxis also exist, though proportionally less (from what we saw) than the Hiaces compared to Togo (experienced last year).

The human chain in action as we unload at the lakeside centre where we were to stay for just the one night.

Yes, we did get all this (and more out of shot) onto 3 seats at the back of the school minibus to get down to Southampton! :-)

After setting up our dome-shaped (and highly effective) mosquito nets, it was time for a compulsory rest for a couple of hours. Bro. Francis and I used some of the rest time to take a gentle stroll around the property which contained extensive and well-maintained grounds, populated by a variety of medium-sized wading birds and over a dozen large pelican-like birds who stood guard generally in rough-formed huddles of 5 or 6 members like mute but ever-watchful sentries, gently sidling away as we approached, all the time keeping one careful eye on these strange-looking "muzungo" ("white people", a refrain that followed us wherever we went, but almost always in an affectionately playful way).

A pelican sentry on duty on the shore of Lake Victoria.

Lunchtime brought us our first example of Ugandan cuisine (rice, pasta, matoke - the yellow mash made from boiled savoury bananas... not the easiest thing for us digest but a Ugandan speciality. Some of us took to it pretty well). The fish was large, grilled and gorgeous.

After lunch, Bro. Dominic came to take us for a tour of the Brothers' schools and training houses in and around Kisubi, starting with the Scholasticate house for Brothers in the second stage of their training (after the Noviciate). There we met a pillar of the Ugandan Province, Bro. Joseph Tinksimire, a former Ugandan Provincial whom I had met during my studies in Paris ('95-'99). In fact, I met many Brothers during the trip whom I had encountered in Paris, most of whom were studying at that time in Rome and used to come to Paris for summer French courses.

Bro. Joseph on the left.

From there it was onto the Kisubi nerve centre at the Mt. St. Teresa campus containing a new university faculty, St. Mary's College (a 1,000 pupil boarding secondary school), 2 primary schools and the Postulate (pre-Noviciate) house

The Brothers' chapel at Mt. St. Teresa's, used by Brothers and students of the different schools on the campus.

That evening, the Mt. St. Teresa brothers and others from nearby communities came to celebrate our arrival with an outdoor meal and some music and dancing. Spirits weren't dampened by the power cut in the middle (generators are a must to cope with such almost daily situations).

Team Win! offering an end-of-meal party piece rendition of "Lord I Lift Your Name On High", giving Bro. Francis a chance to show off his extensive theatrical talents! ;-)
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