Day 4: Stories & Updates
For years, visitors have been few and far-between at the Sadina Inn. Dinah, a beautiful and very sharp woman with a diploma in accountancy, has no good explanation for this other than that curses have been placed on her family and their property by people who practice witchcraft. On Tuesday morning, Mike and I walked to Dinah’s home to meet her daughter, who has since become a close friend. During our conversation with both women, we learned that the Mayor of Kampala, Nasser Ntege Sebagala, came to visit Dinah to request lodging for 700 guests this weekend at her 9-bedroom inn. (That was not a typo!) The Mayor is running for election in 2011 and is visiting Mbale this weekend for the Delegates Conference for the Democratic Party, which will be held at Mt. Elgon (my hotel). But the rest of his entourage needs a place to lodge this weekend, too. A group of top political figures will be occupying all of Dinah’s rooms, while hundreds of other delegates will be sleeping on mattresses under large tents that spread out across Dinah’s property.
According to Dinah, “God is good!” She and her modest staff immediately got to work sprucing up the inn, having concrete stairs installed in the beautifully steep property, setting up the tents, and bringing port-a-potty’s (the Ugandan version) for the visitors to use.
Mike and I woke up this morning and had a quick breakfast before taking boda-bodas (bicycle taxi’s) to The Sadina Inn, where we spent a few hours helping Dinah get ready for her big evening. Though it was not much, Dinah was extremely appreciative of our help and kept thanking us. Amidst all of her stress and excitement, I was amazed when Dinah thoughtfully wished me a happy belated birthday. What a remarkable woman.
By the way, the political parades through the streets still have not ceased! I wouldn’t doubt that this is now partially in preparation for “His Worship the Mayor’s” arrival. There are men and women clapping and singing in the streets in front of our hotel (where the Mayor will be staying), and many finely-dressed Ugandans are beginning to check in at the front desk.
I couldn’t help but smile as the women learned about the two supermarket owners with whom we spoke yesterday about hosting demonstrations in front of their stores. Then, even more Hallelujah’s echoed across the room when one of the men told them that he received a call this morning from Sudan. A Sudanese woman, who is a food supplier to NGOs, somehow got a-hold of an amaranth porridge sample and wants to order…in bulk…from Mannu! She wants 6 kilos to be sent tomorrow so that she can share with the NGOs at a meeting on Saturday. The women promptly began milling flour so that it could be delivered to Kampala and be mailed first thing tomorrow morning.
Project Status Update
I have been working very hard to develop relationships (and build trust) with the women of the bakery over the last few days. That is a major reason for why I have been participating in all of the Mannu meetings rather than journeying out on my own; the Leeps have already earned the trust of these people and this group is a large resource to my learning. And as one woman, Grace, put it, “Any friend of Cindy’s is a friend of mine!”
Though Ugandans are some of the friendliest, the people here, women especially, are rather quiet and reserved (especially toward outsiders). Today, however, I finally felt like my work has begun to pay off. The women are showing that they are more comfortable with me; not only are they open to me interviewing them, but they are ALL asking me when I want to visit their homes, be introduced to their husbands and children and orphans, and participate in daily activities with them.
Today was my first official interview, and I learned a LOT. I interviewed Betty Kissa and visited her home while the rest of the group was milling amaranth flour. Since Betty’s English is weaker than most, Mama Loy helped to interpret. I will wait to share the details of our conversation as Mike and I are getting up early to be at Betty’s home at 6am to have breakfast (maybe something like tea and porridge) with her children. I know that I will have a lot more to add to Betty’s story after that!
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