Empowering HIV/AIDS orphaned children in Africa to a self sustainable future

Catherine Koch

Catherine Koch

Founder and President of Love Is The Answer, a Canadian registered charity serving orphaned children in Africa.

Monday, Monday


Wake at 7am.. yeah, there’s power. Switch on the hot water tank as I pass the bathing room, pour bottled water in the kettle and turn it on to boil for tea.

Rinse laundry that’s been soaking since last night, and hang in on the line to dry in the sun.

With a LITA tote bag packed to the brim .. ( mosquito nets and LITA t’s for the 2 young boys in Bukedea, t’s also for the Chairman and Vice Chairman there because they’ve tried to be so helpful about the children’s land and are meeting me once again this morning.. stuffies and a ball for Rose and Betty’s babies.. the bracelet and bookmark my neice made especially for little Stella, that pretty blue fabric for Betty that I found in a 2nd hand shop in Vancouver and have been saving for her for a couple years 🙂 .. head out to find a boda boda to ride to Mbale town from Senior Quarters, somewhere around 8:30 or so. Whew.. the sun is already hot..

Visit the ATM at Barclay’s bank for some cash, pop in to see my friend in the internet shop across the street, drop off my memory stick so he can print some papers for me for two meetings I have on Tuesday morning. Another boda to the market. Meet my friend, the wholesaler, who helps connect me with great prices on all sorts of things. Today it’s about blankets.. thick, hand washable, sort of brushed cotton ones.. not the soft and fuzzy ones that are much more expensive..these ones are more crude, but lasting, thick and warm. Wow, 12,000 shillings each.. that’s around $5.50 or so.. great. Order 30. Pay for half, will pick up Thursday early and pay balance then. What about flooring? .. the plastic flooring I’ve seen on top of dirt floors. “Check Bam Supermarket”. Grab a boda to Bam. Sure enough, rolls of the flooring are there.. 170,000 shillings – 2mtrs x 25mtrs – kinda pricey maybe, but some kind of flooring is needed in the dorms before we head into rainy season.. will check the dorm dimensions tomorrow.. buy some juice, water, a bun.. catch a boda to the Bukedea taxi.

An hour and a half later arrive at the Bukedea Market.. people, cows, cows and people everywhere. Find Rose’s brother, the children’s uncle.. really he finds me because of course he sees me first. He brings me to where Rose is selling water to make some money for her weekly expenses.. 100 shillings per cup.. about .04 cents ) There, on top of the cups, she has placed one of the pretty rose doilies I brought for her from the 2nd hand store in Vancouver. Love. Learn latest details from her brother about the children’s land issues. Call the Chairman, who is expecting me. Good thing it’s market day, everyone is handy. On my way to meet Chairman visit the Clan Leader to hear what the Clan thinks about the land issue. ( I will write a whole recap about the children’s land issues soon.. ).

Both gentlemen and I agree that I will return on Wednesday to pick up a letter and map they will prepare for me that will be signed by all necessary local officials showing that the remaining land, approximately 5 of the original 8 acres, is considered by all to be the children’s. I confirm that we are all clear that we know that there have been some very sideways happenings with two of the three sales that have already taken place and I ask for, and am happy to receive, 100% assurance that the papers I will receive on Wednesday will be “powerful” enough to ensure that no other portion, of any size, will be sold or be authorized to be sold from the remaining land, by anyone, now and into the future, other than the chidlren. Hand out LITA t’s .. see you Wednesday.

Jump on a boda and head to Gideon’s old place ( the other child family I have worked with in the area ). Find his former neighbour who says he’s at the market and she’ll bring me to him. Jump back on the boda and head back to the market. Gideon comes running out of the crowds and we have a huge hug! Love. We visit a little bit, but make arrangements to get together on Wednesday afternoon.. he’ll cook for me.. wonderful! I’ll bring juice and sweets.. and remember, just not the cassava bread.. I didn’t do at all well with that last time 🙂

Rose’s friend comes to stand in for her to sell the water, and she and I jump on another boda and head far from the market along a dry, dusty road for miles and miles to find the two young boys. I need to get them measured by a tailor for school uniforms or they could be turned away from class, we’re already one week late for the beginning of school. We bounce along to where Morning stays with an Auntie on his Mom’s side. He’s not there, he’s at school. We get directions. Along foot paths we zigzag to his school. He’s not there, he’s gone home for lunch, probably took a shortcut cause we didn’t pass him. We visit with the children and two teachers who haven’t left for lunch, under the beautiful tree that provides shelter and shade for a makeshift outdoor classroom. Eventually he returns to get scooped up immediately by us on to the boda. Now there are 4 of us on it and I’m on the tail end, sitting sideways cause I’m wearing a dress, with that metal bar at the end of the seat very uncomfortably situated under my left cheek. I just about lose it a few times, in a few ways 🙂 the sun is very hot, I know I am burning and the dust is a making everything about me feel quite gritty. I look around. I remember where I am, and what I am priviledged to be doing. I smile. I Love everything. I know in one week I’ll be preparing to board a plane and fly away.

We drive to Peter’s school. He’s not there. He has not reported yet this year. Oh my. We drive more miles and miles to where he stays with another sister of his mother. We get lost, we get found, we find him. “Why haven’t you reported to school yet?” “Because no uniform”. We set the boys off on foot to head to the little local trading center. We’ll ride there and send a boda for them once we arrive. Once we’re all gathered, we get a second boda and off we head, driver and two passengers on each bike, oh my happy rump, back to the Bukedea market to purchase fabrice for their uniforms. 30 minutes later we arrive. We comb the market for the man who sells fabirc for school uniforms and purchase what’s needed from him. One meter of pink for Peter’s shirt, blue for Mornings, and 3/4 mtr each for shorts, both black. Total – 14,500 ( $6 or so ) Jump on the boda again and drive to the tailors in the trading center. It’s not far, but I’m not walking at this point, and it’s all taking so so long to get done. Measure the boys, uniforms will be ready tomorrow. 20,000 total ($8.. )

Everyone enjoys a (very) slightly cooled soda, there’s been no power in Bukedea today. Put the boys back on a boda that will take them home. Give Rose some shillings for a pair of shoes cause hers are literally coming apart in half.. and, lo and behold.. there’s the taxi coming that I can squeeze into that will take me to Mbale. Arrive Mbale 6ish, head to “Chat n’ Chino” for an avacado salad, a bean and cheese burrito and the biggest glass of fresh passion fruit juice ever with.. tada.. ice cubes in it! Grab a boda home.

Yeah, there’s power. Switch on the hot water tank as I pass the bathing room, pour bottled wated in the kettle and turn it on to boil for tea. Fetch laundry from the line. Organize parcels for tomorrow, bathe, get horizontal.

Monday, Monday.. you were quite the pace. Love.

I’m off to Sironko trading center in the morning, and then to Mutufu to see the children in the afternoon.. more Love.

Night night Africa. Thank you for another day with you.

With Love,

Cath xox

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