Today was another long day as we were trying to squeeze in visits to two different families: John and Mary, then Emmanuel and Teddy.
I’d heard a lot about John and Mary – he’d been described to me by Larry and Abigail as “Solar Panel Man”. Last time they visited, the family had set up a mobile phone charging business after affixing a solar panel to their roof, and so providing them with power for a TV, and a small charging station. That had stuck out to me – as it’s a perfect example I use when describing projects that COINS Foundation supports – helping people to use their own skills and drive to have a better chance in life.
Since the last visit in 2012, John and Mary have built a new latrine and also have an indoor washing area, which is quite rare in rural parts of Uganda. They’ve also built a separate indoor kitchen. Despite the language barrier I could see how proud Mary was of her house and her work.
I thought I’d feel bad seeing these families who live in poverty, but you see quickly that they don’t pity themselves – and if they want something they just work hard for it. However – one thing was a bit of a shame, they are no longer running their solar business. Given that more people in the village now have solar panels, the demand for charging at John and Mary’s home has decreased. They didn’t seem too upset about it – but I assume it has affected their income. But I guess that’s life and there’s an inevitability to change.
Our next stop in the afternoon was Emmanuel and Teddy. Nelson accompanied us again from Habitat, and we began by talking to Emmanuel, standing amongst the bricks for the structure of the new house. From photos I could tell it hadn’t changed that much in the past two years, and Emmanuel began to explain why. Last year in April, Teddy and her youngest son had a motorbike accident. They were both in hospital for two months, and medicals came to around 1.5 million Ugandan Shillings. This works out at around £375 – a huge amount for a family like theirs. As a result all the building work stopped on the home. It really is hard to fathom that something like paying for basic healthcare, which in the UK we have for free, could throw off all their plans and push them back completely.
They also have a new baby – Amos – who was born three months ago. Four of the elder children attend a boarding school, and the other two go to a local primary school – so their house is packed full when all the children are home.