Monday, February 23, 2009

Farms in Bushenyi - an introduction

Farming is a major source of employment and income in Bushenyi district. The weather is temperate, so farmers are able to grow crops year round. The landscape is filled with matooke (banana) plantations, tea plantations and grazing fields. Mixed in amongst the banana plants are coffee plants (shade grown coffee).

Of course, I have been most interested in the animal farming as well. There are many local honey producers here, although I have not yet seen the honey farms. I am told they are different than Canadian honey farmers. The dairy industry is quite extensive here. Most of the cattle are holstein Friesians crossed with the local Ankole cattle. The Ankole cattle are resistant to many tick borne diseases, whereas the 'exotic' Holsteins are not. Whereas the Holsteins here can give as much as 20L milk/day (still only about half of an excellent cow in Canada), the Ankole cattle give 2-4 L milk/day. So the Holsteins are popular, but the farmers must use a lot of tick sprays and expensive inputs to keep them alive.

Most farms have between 1 and 20 cattle, which they take to graze in nearby fields. All land is privately owned, but there seem to still be public access to some grazing areas. There are also many goats (in herd of 5 to 300) and goat meat is very popular here. There are also many 'zero grazing' (free-stall) herds of cattle, one of which we can see from our house. These require more labour in harvesting the grasses. The benefit for the Holsteins is decreased exposure to ticks and tick borne diseases and a higher level of nutrition, so more milk. Artificial insemination is available here through the government. I am told there is one person in Bushenyi district who performs this service, but that the timing is not always predictable, making pregnancy rates rather variable! So natural service is also common here. I am hoping to visit some of the zero-grazing facilities to see how they operate for myself.

With all the dairies, milk is a popular drink. The milk is sold raw from the dairies and tuberculosis and brucellosis are still prevalent here. Quality control is still lacking (adding water to milk is apparently common if sold straight from the farm) In the homes we visit, milk is always served boiled (hot). The creamy milk makes for excellent tea and cocoa!

I have been told that cattle are a measure of wealth here. An Ankole cow is worth about $300 and a good holstein cross is worth $400 - $600. On the way back from one of the practical sessions, one of my students informed me that a typical bride price was 5-10 cows (depending on the quality of the cows, I guess).

There are also pigs, and sheep here, although in smaller numbers and many chickens. One of our friends here has 300 layer chickens at her home (which we have not yet seen). We are enjoying the abundance of eggs. And occasionally we see fish (tilapia) from the small local lakes, although it is not a common source of food here. I will post more about farming as I hopefully see more farm operations in the area.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thinking Day

February 22 is Thinking Day for Girl Guides and Scouts around the world. It is the birthday of both Lady and Lord Baden Powell and is celebrated by thinking about important themes each year. This year's theme is "stop the spread of AIDS, malaria and other contagious diseases.

This theme is very relevant to our life here in Uganda. HIV/AIDS is a concern and a reality in all parts of Africa, and Uganda is no exception. Through concerted efforts, Uganda has managed to control the infection rate to about 6%, (1 in 20 people), which is a huge number, but small compared to countries like Swaziland and Zimbabwe with prevelance rates of 42% and 25% respectively. The most visible reminder of this are the numerous stores selling coffins along the sides of the road.

Malaria is another challenge for those who avoid the AIDS pandemic. We have a mosquito net over our bed. I repaired the hole in the net when we first arrived, and most nights we fall asleep to the gentle hum of the mosquito. At least she is on the outside of the net! Still, many Ugandans do not have bed nets. Since the mosquitoes only come out at night, a bed net prevents the majority of mosquito bites. I am sitting in our bed under the net in this picture.

At least two of our friends in the past month have had malaria. It is relatively simple to treat, but relatively expensive ($15). Now, $15 may not seem like a lot, but it is the equivalent of a month of secondary school fees for one child. With many people here living on $1/day, this is also 2 weeks salary. So, after HIV/AIDS, which kills about 44 000 Africans/week, malaria is the second biggest cause of death in Africa, killing about 19,000 Africans/week. That is a lot of people, and bed nets are a big contribution to the solution.

So, Happy Thinking Day! I am still trying to connect with the Guide troops in Bushenyi, and will hopefully visit them soon. I would like to know how they celebrate Thinking Day this year.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Communicating in Uganda

One of the first things I noticed when we left the airport in Entebbe was the amount of advertising for the local telecom companies. Even in rural areas entire buildings become brightly coloured advertisements for the telecom companies --in bright yellow (MTN), light blue (Uganda Telecom or UTL), bright pink (Zain), and white on red (Warid). This benefits the owner of the building since their building is painted for free, and the company who gets advertisement space for the cost of paint.

Phone service is highly competitive here. What we would call landlines with a fixed cable from a phone company are non-existent outside of Kampala (I'm not sure about any of the other major centres). Nearly everyone has at least one cell phone and most small towns have at least one store, which sells cell phones, and cell phone accessories. These shops also offer battery charging services, since only those who live in and around town have power. In most cases people have pay as you go phones and phone cards are sold most shops. The top up cards range from 500 shillings ($0.30 CDN) to 10 000 shillings ($6.00CDN). Rates vary depending on your phone company, the time of day, your cell phone plan and the network you are calling. There are no long distance changes within Uganda, but you generally save money if you phone someone on the same network as your phone. In general the cost per minute is between 200 and 300 shilling per minute. Considering 10 000 shillings is a fair bit of money (it is sometimes hard to get change for the a 10 000 shilling bill in the market), phone calls are expensive compared to the cost of living price. Yet as one sales representative told us, everyone has to communicate so Ugandans generally find enough money to talk.

Necessity, of course, is the mother of invention and influences cell phone etiquette. First of all phone calls are always brief. People say what they need to say quickly to get off the phone. Even if you are the one carrying the charges for the call, people try to hang up quickly. At first this seemed rude to me, but then I realized that it was polite to
get off the phone quickly, as you save the caller money. Alternatively, if what you need to say can be said in a text message then it gets said in a text message (which only costs 50 shillings). Flashing (i.e. phoning someone and immediately hanging up expecting them to call back) is very common here as well, especially if people perceive you have more money than they do.

Then there are more creative solutions. I've seen a couple Ugandans who carry multiple SIM cards for their phone, one for each network. When you call someone on MTN you use your MTN SIM card, if you are calling someone on Zain use your Zain SIM card. This is easy to do since SIM cards very easy to get a hold of and are even sold by the hawkers in the taxi parks.

The Internet is also very popular here. Most small towns have an Internet cafe and for 1000 shillings ($60) you can get 20 minutes of access. In Kampala you can get DSL, but outside of major centres the Internet is very slow, since there are no fixed lines. Even the cafes, which are fast compared to the other options that are generally available, are slow compared to a basic DSL or Cable package in Canada and far less reliable.

Disclaimer: From this point on the technical jargon may be more than some (like Michelle) want to read, although it does describe what I have been doing as of late.

For those who want Internet at home or in a small office there are only two companies offering services, MTN and UTL. In Bushenyi both these companies only offer wireless solutions using cell phone technology. UTL uses a wireless CDMA phone and costs 100 000 shillings a month. This appears to be what most people here use including the diocesan offices. I picked up MTN's GSM wireless modem last week and it costs 90 000 shillings a month. Both claim to be able to give around 230 Kbits/s, but they generally average speeds around 5Kb/s in real life. Both services are about as fast as a dial-up modem in Canada, but they are both far less reliable. At times the latency (time it takes for a web server to respond) is unusable. This is especially the case for UTL since we arrived (it apparently was better a couple months ago). I've found my little GSM modem far more reliable, but sometimes the network is just not available. AWIST, where Michelle is, has a shared satellite link with a medical research facility. It is apparently quiet good when it is working, but has been down since we got here. This is why our blog posts have been sporadic until I got my GSM modem last week.

Most of my work in the diocesan office has been looking into business class Internet. The only one I have found (beside satellite, which is too expensive) uses WiMAX technology. From what I remember about wireless technology this it isn't as nice as the wireless links that the telecom companies use in Canada, but hopefully it will get the offices a much nicer 128 Kb/s connection at a reasonable price.

Getting around in Uganda

Getting around in Uganda is definitely an experience. In our first day in Kampala we quickly learned that traffic (mostly) drives on the on left side of the road. Even in Kampala there are few lane markings, so if no one is coming in the opposite direction you can drive in the middle of the road. The right of way is generally determined by how big you are. Cars and trucks tend to be in the middle of their 'lane' and motorcycles and bicycles drive along the side of the road or between the cars when they can fit. Pedestrians do not have the right of way (sometimes even the sidewalk isn't safe when motorcycles are concerned). Watching traffic in Kampala is like watching an ant farm or a beehive at work. Everyone clearly knows where they are going and how to get there, but it boggles my mind how Ugandans manage to get where they are going in one piece without our rules of the road. Getting around in Toronto seems like a piece of cake in comparison to driving in Kampala. I'm certainly glad that neither of us will be getting behind the wheel any time soon! Mind you, when I describe Toronto traffic to Ugandans they have been similarly astonished that we are still in one piece!

Now that we are settled in at the Mothers Unions, Michelle and I tend to walk to most places nearby. It's an easy half hour walk into the town of Bushenyi where we get most of our food and supplies. The Diocesan Offices are also about a half hour walk although I usually get a ride from one of the diocesan drivers. Outside of the major cities there are no sidewalks so pedestrians, motorcycles and cars all share the road and can pass quite close to each other. This means we have to be very aware of traffic around us. On our first day I almost stepped in front of a boda boda (a motorcycle taxi) when took a small step sideways to try and avoid a hole in front of me!

Most Ugandans are surprised by our desire to walk places. Although few people own a car, people who have the means usually don't walk. Unlike rural areas in Canada there is almost always an affordable way to get where you want to go regardless of distance. For those on a budget, a boda boda will allow one person to travel short distances in and around town for about 200-500 shillings (less than $0.50). These are small and simple motorcycles with a flat seat in the back and a place to put your feet. For safety reasons we've avoided using the boda bodas, much to the chagrin of the friendly boda boda drivers who congregate outside the Mothers Union.

Although by law both the driver and passenger are supposed to wear helmets, this is rarely enforced outside of Kampala. The quality of the ride really depends on the driver. The drivers are generally young men, who hope to make enough money to one day buy a taxi or a taxi bus. So some simply want to get you to where you are going fast so they can pick up their next passenger. Others are quiet accommodating and will make the ride as smooth as possible. We are lucky that in our one experience where we had to take a boda boda the drivers were of the latter kind.

For those with a little more money or who are going further distances (like Michelle is on Wednesdays and Thursdays) a taxi or a taxi bus are the means of choice. There is usually a place in town where taxi drivers congregate, but they can also be flagged down standing by the side of the road with little difficulty. If you are having difficulty the boda boda drivers will flag one down for you for a modest commission. The taxis here tend to be similar to Toyota Corollas and the taxi buses are vans with 4 bench seats. Again the quality of the ride depends largely on the driver.

First the driver gets to decide how many people will be in the taxi with you. Although there are legal limits to how many people can be in a taxi (2 in the front and 4 in the back I think) or a taxi bus (4 across) they are rarely enforced outside Kampala and major centres. Some days we have a taxi nearly to ourselves, but we have had taxis with 8 passengers (5 in the back and 3 in the front) on occasion. The first taxi bus we took had around 28 people in it (even the Ugandans thought that was cramped). Second, the driver gets to decide how they drive. Most drivers drive quickly and pass much closer to things than we are used to, but they are generally safe. Our Ugandan friends have been quite good about letting us know what is a fair price. Michelle started off paying 3000 shillings to get to Kabwohe, but the women at AWIST have told her to insist on paying 2000 and the drivers have obliged.

For longer trips, Ugandan's prefer the bus, which are about as comfortable as a greyhound bus, but without a bathroom in the back. They are not over packed like the taxis. However, like the taxis, they don't leave until they are full and I've been told it can take an hour or more depending on the time of day for that to happen.

On Sundays and for most official functions that the Bishop invites us to we have been spoiled by having a diocesan vehicle and driver. These are always far more pleasant than public transport and we are very thankful when get to use them as they feel just a bit closer to home.

Visiting Queen Elizabeth Park

Last weekend we traveled to Queen Elizabeth Park (known locally as Mweya), a national park about 80 km west of where we live. We were surprised how quickly the landscape changed as we entered the Rift Valley. Our green, rolling hills covered in matooke (banana plantations) and tea and coffee transformed quickly into the dry, flat savannah plains. We were lucky to see most of the large animals that live in the park- elephants, hippos, lions, warthogs, waterbuck, kob, and buffalo. Sadly the rhinos no longer live here - they became extinct during times of instability.

We were amazed at the variety of birds around us - there are over 600 species of birds documented in this park. As we drove around the park we were surrounded by an entourage of little blue swallows who seemed to enjoy accompanying us on our tour. Our guides took us to the crater lakes (formed by volcanic activity, and now some are fresh water and others are salt lakes where rock salt is harvested). The Rwenzori mountains formed a beautiful backdrop in the distance. Our visit was short, but we enjoyed our 2 game drives and river cruise while we were there. Jeff was wishing he had an SLR camera with a zoom lens!! We are posting a few pictures for you to enjoy. We are lucky to be staying very close to many parks, so hopefully we will visit a few more while we are here. Unfortunately, it sounds like the gorillas are booked up very far in advance, so we won't be seeing them this time around.

NOTE from Jeff: Sorry about the picture formatting below Blogger is not being very helpful in formatting them at the moment and fixing this over the modem is just going to take too long.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mothers Union

For the three months that we are living in Bushenyi, we are staying at Kitungu Mother's Union. We have been given a partially detached guest house on the property. It has two bedrooms (with ensuite bathrooms and cold water showers), a living room, kitchen (with a stove and even a small fridge). It is bigger than our apartment, very clean, and luxurious by local standards. We are very grateful for the generous hospitality.

The Mother's Union is the rough equivalent to the Anglican Church Women in Canada. Here in Bushenyi they are very active. They have this property with a guest house, dining hall (they usually provide room and board to their short term guests) hostels, and a meeting hall. There is also a small house near ours where the doctor stays while he is working at Bushenyi Medical Centre next door.

We have only begin to hear about some of the many activities of the Mother's Union. Lillian, the Mother's Union Worker, explained to us about some of their current ministry. We are hoping to follow her around at some point and learn more about their work. They have an ongoing prison ministry in the local prison where they bring tea once a month, visit, and teach employment skills (basket making, sewing,etc) to help the prisoners learn how to reintegrate into society. They donated a sewing machine to allow the inmates to practice these skills. Here on their property they are also running seminars to teach women marketable skills such as flower making and budget planning.

They also work in the rural communities to bring communities of women together, identify the most pressing needs of the community, and brainstorm solutions. They teach hygeine programs to minimize transfer of disease, encourage the building of latrines and clean water sources, teach about food preparation and balanced meals. They also look out for children who have been orphaned and seek to help them out by finding family connections and providing school fees in some cases. To decrease infant and maternal mortality, they encourage women to save money and plan to have their children in hospitals, not in remote villages. They speak up about issues of prostitution and cross generational sex - issues of concern here in Uganda. They have a dream of establishing a safe house for women caught in prostitution if they find the funds.

We were overwhelmed with the scope of ministry currently running out of here. When we first arrived, the Mother's Union has arranged with Rotary International to provide 45 wheelchairs free of charge to people with disabilities in the community. It seems they are busy meeting the many needs of their local community. When we told Lillian that we were interested to learn how Mother's Union assisted with women's issues, she responded by telling us that Mother's Union does not deal with only women's issues - they address family issues, which involve mothers, fathers and children and they work on human rights issues. They are truly making a difference in these communities, being the hands and feet of Christ in the midst of their families and friends.

Practicals in Ropes and Restraint

Today I taught my second lecture and taught my students restraint methods for cattle. The students here are very interested in the practical application of the information that I teach them. While many will patiently sit through my 3 hour lectures, some lose interest and come and go as they please. However, they become very interested during our practical field sessions, as they hope to perform veterinary technician-like procedures, and want to know as much as possible before graduation. They were very disappointed last week when I informed them that they could not learn how to perform a c-section in 20 minutes or less.

It has become the rainy season apparently in the last few days. So we were fortunate today that the rain stopped between 2 and 4:30 so that we could safely walk down to the farm pastures and practice rope restraint. There are no shelters in the pastures, and here everything stops when it rains. Given the short torrential outbursts of rain that happen frequently, it makes complete sense to be patient for half an hour and venture forth once the skies have cleared.

Today we learned ropes and restraint techniques for cattle. They had considerable difficulty with a square knot, but fortunately most knew how to tie sliding and quick release knots. Halters are not common use here, so I showed them how to fashion a halter out of a rope, and restrain an animal by the head.

Interestingly, they have been taught to perform most procedures (castration, dehorning, lump removal), with the animal cast on the ground. The students listened intently, although incredulously when I told them that I do many procedures on animals while they are standing. I supposed if you apply enough ropes you may be able to avoid anesthesia altogether (I am encouraging them to consider using anesthesia if they are going to be dehorning or performing other minor procedures). At any rate, I suspect the students enjoyed playing cowboy for the day. They also did not quite believe that a tail jack would stop an animal from kicking.

In reality, the cows here are even more docile than our own dairy cows. They are hand milked twice daily while standing in the field with no more restraint than rope hobbles. They are grazed routinely at the sides of roads, and are used to the constant traffic of motorbikes, cars and people. The biggest danger is their beautiful, large horns. Being used to polled and dehorned animals, I treat these with the greatest respect!


Ankole Western Institute of Science and Technology has a library that it is very proud of. They have received a couple significant book shipments in the past year that have allowed them to develop an significant library, that should help them pursue their desired university status here. (Currently they are licensed as a college and can confer diplomas, but not university degrees). In reality, the library will be extensive once the books are unloaded out of the plethora of boxes, become catalogued and placed on the shelves. Jeff has promised to help them sort through the computer section. Unfortunately, people often donate older textbooks, and if the technologies are no longer available, these books are useless to anyone, but the librarian puts them on the shelves because, in order to be a university, the bookshelves must be full! But how much better if the bookshelves are filled with useful books. Jeff has promised to stop by someday and help organize the computer books into useful and non-useful books for the students.

I have been pleased to find donated textbooks from professors from the Ontario Veterinary College lining the shelves here. OVC has had a history of sending donated textbooks to other countries who request these texts. It is nice to see the other side and appreciate the value of the anatomy, physiology and other textbooks contributed by people that I know.

I spend a lot of time in the library since, other than the computer lab, it is the only space on campus to sit! I enjoy reading the newspapers and learning about Uganda News. The news here is all very local, so it is interesting to hear about Kenya, Uganda and the Congo from a local perspective. The library also has a dictionary in Lunyankole, which I occasionally consult to try to figure out words. I have since bought my own portable copy so I can pick up a little more each day.

Back to School

Monday (February 2) was the official back to school day for primary and secondary students in Uganda. (My college students have already been in school for two weeks) Many students attend boarding schools, so this also means packing up and saying good bye to family for 3 months. The stationery stores have been very busy, as have taxis and buses shuttling children to various schools over the weekend.

Parents and children greet this time with mixed emotions. Education is highly valued here, and children are anxious to go to school. However, being away from family for 3 months is difficult, and parents worry about how to care for children from a distance. There are 3 or 4 litanies of prayer for schools and students in the Anglican youth service book called Come and Worship, and we prayed many of them on Sunday. The Anglican church (and other churches) have also played a key role in establishing schools for children. This diocese has at least 100 different schools under its umbrella.

The other challenge for families around this time are school fees. The Uganda government has promised to pay primary school fees for 4 children per family. Families are still large here, so this means that many, but not all children here have the opportunity to go to school until the end of primary school. Secondary schools, however, cost approximately 300, 000 -400,000 Shillings/term/student (including books, pencils, and associated fees) This is the equivalent of $200- $275 Cdn. A night watchman may make 70-80,000 shillings/month. So many Ugandans take 2 or 3 jobs to scrounge school fees for their many children.

Many children who cannot afford school fees will continue to work until they raise enough to afford fees. This means starting the term late and trying to catch up. Others may eventually drop out due to lack of funds. For better or worse, bank loans are not common place here. Some of my own students have not yet shown up for class. Their classmates tell me they are still working to raise money for school fees. Last week, I met a woman studying at Ankole Western who is one of nine children. She is working in the library part time, which pays for her food and accommodation, but is not enough to pay for school fees in addition to this.

This poses a difficult dilemma for us. We are supporting the development of Ankole Western, an institution that aims to provide affordable schooling, but this schooling is not accessible to many. The Ugandan government is trying to move away from individual sponsorships, as many people rely on this lottery approach and depend on outside money to get ahead. On the other hand, when I meet an intelligent young woman who is working diligently and still unable to pay her school fees, which total $100 a month, how do I respond??

Language Lessons

Uganda has a variety of local languages depending on the region. Here in southwestern Uganda the local language is Lunyankole (Runyankore). Luganda is mostly spoken around Kampala, and other languages are spoken in Northern Uganda. English is one of the official languages of Uganda, but is mostly spoken by the well educated and urban Ugandans.

Our first language lessons here have been in speaking English. Our accent is a challenge for Ugandans, and their accent is a challenge for us. We have had to change our vowels and syllabic emphasis to make ourselves better understood. Sometime we catch ourselves speaking Ugandan English even to each other!

Ugandan English is also more British than our Canadian English. So we have learned to say Rubbish instead of Garbage, Trousers, not pants, Torch, not flashlight, and many other new British words. I did not expect to encounter an English language barrier when travelling to Uganda!

We are also learning a few words in Lunyankole. It is coming slowly. It seems there are many regional differences in Lunyankole, so we get different answers from different people!

Language 101
Hello/how are you - Agandi
Fine - Nimarunji (I don't know how to say I'm not fine, so we stick with fine for now)
Good Morning: orire ote
Thank you: Webele (mononga - very much)

These few words have brought many smiles to our new Ugandan friends and giggles from all the children. Somedays I am not sure if they are smiling because we are speaking their language or because of our Canadian accents!

My First Class

January 28 was my first attempt to teach Clinical Diagnostics and Ankole Western University. The university campus is currently situated on an old primary school campus. The classrooms have chalkboards and desks, but few other teaching aids. I made some Bristol board diagrams of cow anatomy to bring in for our anatomical systems review, which the students seemed to appreciate. I have 42 students in my class, one of the larger classes at the university - it is going to be a challenge to remember all the student's names.

The students were well-behaved, although half way through my lecture many left. I wondered if I was unintelligible or boring. However they came back 10 minutes later. When I asked if it was usual to take a break, they said no. My lecture slot is a 3 hour lecture on Wednesday mornings. This is a very long time to lecture!! I was hoping for it to be broken into two or three slots. So I was quite tired at the end of the lecture. Some students approached me at suggested that it was difficult to understand my accent, so I will be providing them with notes ahead of time so they can follow and ask questions if they do not understand. I also discovered that students are used to dictation, so they will write notes if I dictate them, but will not write notes off the cuff.

I finished my material earlier than expected, and shared a little bit about Canada and Canadian agriculture. I will try to work in some Canadian trivia each week during the breaks so that the students can stay focused for 3 hours.

I also started our practical lab work this week. We reviewed anatomy on the live animals and discussed landmarks for internal organs and the common names for the external landmarks. The students all wanted to know where to cut for c-sections and where to treat for bloat! I am hoping that my discussion about the need for surgical skills, suturing skills and further veterinary education will discourage them from trying c-sections on graduation, as they are not training as veterinarians, but as vet technicians! On the other hand, I understand the desire to want to help animals in rural areas when no other help is available.

So I have been working diligently over the past few days to set up lecture notes for the 12 weeks of lecture that remain. It takes a lot of preparation to make a course. I am thankful that Dr. Carolyn Langford has lent me her notes from last year. But it is too bad I will not be able to re-use my notes for subsequent classes. At least I can leave them here for future lecturers to use.

The Food We Eat

One of the many blessings of being under the auspices of the church when traveling are the Sunday dinner invitations. Every church that we have attended to date has ensured that we are well fed and watered during the day. This is greatly appreciated since our Sunday activities last from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm!

In this way, we have been introduced to many excellent Ugandan dishes. Since Uganda is so close to the equator, they have four 'seasons' - two dry and two rainy seasons. (Although we are in the dry season now and still have rain many days). This allows residents in Bushenyi to have up to 3 growing seasons/year and a plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The other benefit to the climate is that most of the food available here is grown locally. This results in relatively inexpensive food for Ugandans, as the only costs for locally grown food are the input costs and labour. Since labour costs are relative to the local wages, food is affordable for most people. A pineapple here costs 35 cents, so we've been enjoying them here. Meat can be had for about $1.50/lb, and fresh milk is also widely available (although it is unpasteurized and therefore boiled before being served with tea). Imported items cost significantly more a small box of cereal is $6.

So far, we have been introduced to:

Matooke (small starchy bananas similar to plantains that are served either boiled and mashed like potatoes or fried),

Karo (a doughy starch made from millet flour that we use to pick up broth and other foods on your plate),

Dodo (leafy greens with a similar taste to bitter spinach, served cooked with onions),

Groundnuts (similar to peanuts, but smaller and less oily, usually cooked into a sauce with onions and tomatoes and served on the side or with the meat),

And I have yet to distinguish between the yams and sweet potatoes and other root vegetables that are here in abundance.

There are also many other familiar foods - potatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, carrots, green peppers, beans, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, beef, chicken, goat, pineapples, watermelons, mangoes, pasta, bread, rice and local honey. So we have been well fed during our stay so far. Jeff even found Gouda and Cheddar locally produced in Mbarara (a town about an hour away), so he is as happy as a mouse after we visit there!

I am experimenting with food here - I am trying to learn how to make chapattis/tortillas. Lillian (the mother's union worker here) has promised to show me, as all my attempts seem to be hard and crumbly. The most recent experiment was passable, and made for decent fajitas for supper.