Friday, September 24, 2010

Kitenge, Chickens and Children, Oh My! A Very Special "Our Uganda Friday"

by Kate von Achen

I awoke before the sun and sat on our balcony watching as the sky became illuminated. The sunrise over Gulu is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, making waking up so early totally worth every second.

We had a long day ahead. One with so much to do even a robot would short circuit. But alas, Hannabot and Katebot (yes, I am a HUGE nerd) powered through. We started the morning with rolex (kind of Uganda’s version of a breakfast burrito) and Nescafe instant coffee and then walked down to the Coffee Hut where I ordered a proper red eye for take away in an amazingly leaky cup.

After consuming the proper amount of caffeine we proceeded to the market to spend some time with the wonderful tailors! We counted more of the 2,400 bags we’re making for the Clinton Health Access Initiative and assigned products to the hundreds of yards of new kitenge fabric that we hauled up from Kampala. I also sat with Lucy working on new product designs for a few special orders for some of our amazing wholesale clients (yes, you will all have to wait patiently)! I also spent a good hour tickling Emmy (Emmanuel), Rosemary’s 2-year-old son. He has the best guttural child laugh I have ever heard. He made my ovaries skip a beat.

Emmy looking at me very seriously, provoking more tickles.

We headed out around 1pm to grab a quick lunch before we met with Konye Keni, the paper bead ladies, to work with them on some new, challenging designs. Yes, you will also have to wait patiently for this. But we’ll give you a hint…..there will be no paper beads used in these designs! AND the designs will be bridging a kind of gap between two tribes in Uganda. And that is all I can tell you about that for now.
At 4pm we said goodbye to the ladies of Konye Keni (but only until tomorrow), dropped the jewelry supplies in the room and headed back to the market to meet Lucy and Esther and head out to Lacor to meet Rosemary’s family and enjoy her delicious cooking.

The road to Rosemary’s house was the worst road I’ve ever driven on. There were several spots where I wanted to turn around but we made it! I’m pretty sure the only reason we reached well was due to Lucy’s praying in the back seat. But we reached successfully and were greeted by Rosemary, her husband Emmanuel, her son Emmy (yes, there was more tickling), her son Jemy, and her father-in-law, Okello. Their compound consisted of 6 living huts and 1 large cooking hut, was surrounded by tons of different flowering trees and there were several lively chickens (one with about 10 baby chicks) running around. It was a beautiful place! We were led inside to sit in Rosemary’s hut and Lucy soon returned with Isaac and Goreti, two of Prisca’s children! Prisca, one of the tailors we used to work with lives next door to Rosemary and is responsible for Rosemary finding work with Lucy and Awava. Prisca hadn’t yet returned home from work but joined us just after we had our delicious dinner.

Rosemary outdid herself cooking for us. She made a delicious chicken stew (I’m thinking that earlier in the day there were more lively chickens), maloquang, bo, irish potatoes, millet bread and rice. I think I could eat her food every day. It was amazing! Lucy took it upon herself to finish off the chicken.

Rosemary preparing an amazing meal on her two burner biomass stove.

After dinner Prisca walked us through the darkest dark that ever was, over to her home to meet her husband and to see her home. They have managed to almost completely construct a brick, multi-room home with electricity! The lights were so bright compared to the candle we had been using in Rosemary’s home. It blinded me. Prisca’s husband Charles and the children were watching a movie on TV and he switched it off to greet us. Charles had told me that he had heard so much about me and that he was honored to finally meet me and he insisted that next time I am in Gulu that I stay in their home. What a huge honor! In my head I was thinking, “if they fix that road I would be totally into that!”.

A while later Lucy called and told Prisca to bring us back so we could make it back into town before it got too late. We returned to Rosemary’s compound to say our goodbyes and thank her for the wonderful cooking.

Family photo time outside of Rosemary's home.

We were off on our way toward town, only this way Lucy directed us a different way and the road was WAY better. I’m not sure why we didn’t got that way the first time! I offered to take Lucy home but she said I would never make it back into town (I’m pretty sure I would have though it was dark and I haven’t been there in a while) so we dropped her at the nearest boda stage to her home and headed back to Hotel Kakanyero, energized by the delicious meal and our overwhelming happiness of our dinner in the village.

I doubt I will see the sunrise tomorrow. It is 11pm and after posting this I am off to bed for some much needed rest for another big day tomorrow!

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