A reader of 3limes recently wrote to say she was planning a move to Kampala and would I kindly answer some questions. I thought I might share them with you too, since whether or not you are moving to Uganda you might like to know if I have a washing machine or how I deal with the question of Malaria and bottled water. So here we are:
1. We do not have a washing machine but everyone else has one! It drives me crazy. I want to get one but will wait ‘till we move this summer to a bigger place where the machine could fit inside. ( Shoe boxes do not have inside spots for washing machines so it would need to be outside and that is not secure.) They are readily available however.
2. I do not take anti malaria pills and neither does anyone I know. However once we leave Kampala and go the the country we normally do take them. Everyone uses mosquito nets and incidents of Malaria do exist in Kampala but are quite rare. Testing kits are available and any time someone has a fever they just get a quick prick to determine if they have malaria. Preventative medication is at all pharmacies for when you need to stock up before safari trips. Trooper recently woke up with a fever and we did a home rapid test. When it came back positive we whizzed her to the hospital and within four hours she was medicated and ready to go. She didn’t get the malaria here in Kampala but on an over night stay at a farm about 30km outside of town.
3.We only drink bottled water but we do boil tap water for pasta. Everything else is bottled and again is easy to get everywhere. Most people have water dispensers in their homes.
4.Does everyone treat us differently because we are white? Mostly. Everyone calls us Mzungu and everyone thinks we are rich. Honestly, it makes me crazy. Mostly I ignore it but on occasion I have pointed out that I am a teacher and therefore not rich. However, being white equals rich here and for the uneducated people there is no getting round it. I think you get a hard skin and we all try to get used to it. There is no getting away from the fact that we are the OTHER and we live in a totally different world. Remember, though that there is a growing middle class here and some people do live like us with TV and internet and trips abroad.
5.Photographing people is a tricky one. I always ask and if they ask for money I refuse to pay. Something changes in the photos when it has become a financial transaction. Often the problem is not about money but about trust; they don’t understand what we want to do with the photos and don’t appreciate being photographed like animals in a zoo. The last time I photographed in the market I made a point of taking prints to hand out the next weekend. They were most grateful and will now trust me in the future.
6.How have my children adapted to living in Africa? It was a tough start but they are more than happy and settled now. Both my girls ( 12 and 10) love school, have many friends and have taken up horse riding. They swim at the club a lot and, I believe, probably live a better life in some respects than back home in Canada. They had a hard time with all the poverty at first but kids are so resilient and they got used to it very quickly. They have both become quite tough! All the kids we know here are so happy and enjoy all the freedoms of life here, being outside, lots of sports all year round, often big houses with gardens. They only big disadvantage in a kids life is that it isn’t really possible, apart from a few neighborhoods, to take a bike out and ride around. They can’t just go for a walk either, although most kids don’t do that any where until they are older.
Any other questions? Burning queries? Ask away…I don’t mind one bit.