Monday, October 11, 2010

Plaster, Paint and Wood....and a wee bit of fun!

by: Kate von Achen

We are in Gulu! After a minor delay this morning by the wonderful Kampala police (Hanna got harassed a bit on the way to my house), we had officially made it out of the Bwaise jam set out on the long road to Gulu.

Motivated by the sounds of New Order, Neko Case, Manu Chau, Minus Story and Lady Gaga, we reached our destination in four hours, only being stopped by police once on the way. The officer said I was speeding but he had no speed gun to tell me how fast I was going so we were on our merry way in under five minutes. Sometimes my stubbornness pays off.

Ravenous, we stopped at the Coffee Hut first. Their performance today was less than stellar which was disappointing but it’s still the best mzungu place in town!

Because I’m a huge fan of multitasking, we had some of the new signage laminated in the stationary shop opposite Coffee Hut while waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for our food. It was fantastic until Hanna realized we hadn’t signed the participation certificates for the August business skills training we did with the artisans before laminating. Argh! So we’re going to seek out a permanent marker and see how that does, or go back, print and bring them back in November. We had decided that part of the completion of the training would be to show 1-2 months worth of book keeping before they received these awards. Now it may be 3 months….oops!

After realizing my mistake, we headed over to the new shop that the tailors will be moving into tomorrow (inshallah). The floor was supposed to be plastered Friday, and then Saturday, and the today, and at 3:30pm there was still no one there working. Excellent. So they sent someone to fetch the person who was supposed to be doing the work. I was too afraid to return this evening to check. But hopefully we can move in to the new shop tomorrow!

Mildly defeated, we proceeded to Hotel Kakanyero, one of my Gulu homes. Up to the Universe floor we climbed with Hanna and Darlyne in “Earth” and me in “Venus”. We took 30 minutes to freshen up and unpack a bit and then headed for the market to see the wonderful tailors! There were hugs and greetings all around and any worries I have ever had melted away as they always do when I step into that cramped and chaotic stall. I love it there. It may be among my favorite places in this world.

We introduced Darlyne to the ladies (and Walter, Lucy’s orphaned nephew who just completed Senior 6 and is tailoring in a room full of women) and then sent her with Walter on a quest for wood for our new signs!

Hanna and I hung out in the market and I talked with Lucy about training tailors for United Future Foundation in Mpigi District. She seems to be up to the challenge! Success! Clearly we will be discussing more details tomorrow, but so far so good.

We talked with the tailors about the new space, all of us excited about how to set it up, where to put extra electrical outlets, and of course there was a lot of excitement when I agreed to buy a fan for the store. Esther said, “you really love us!” and I said “how could I not?!”. So tomorrow, I will be spending $30 on a fan that I truly hope works better than its appearance suggests…

We left the women around 6pm so that they could go home and we had wood to paint! We’re making a large sandwich board sign to put in the street (that is being assembled by a carpenter and will be picked and painted tomorrow) and then making a big display rack for Konye Keni’s beautiful paper bead jewelry to sell from the shop.

We have a very long and busy day ahead of us so it is time to let the hum of the power generator lull me to sleep and dream of waking in a Gulu with power!

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