Photo credit: DiasporaEngager (www.DiasporaEngager.com).
The round hut is nearly ready as captured by the camera
“Waiting is a difficult work when you wait as I wait”
“My advice to you is this: don’t go back to live your old age in the village. You will have no friends to talk to and you will die prematurely. You will meet very many conflicts which will drain you to the marrow”
LAMWO-UGANDA: My trouble started in November 2020 after I went back to Ayuu Lupur village, Palabek Gem Sub- County in Lamwo district, which borders South Sudan. This is the village where I was born 68 years ago but had left and relocated to Gulu , now City, in 1969. My good old friend, General Salim Saleh, had just donated to me UGX 10 million (about US$ 2762) for the foundation of my retirement home in my village. This had been my dream since the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) menace which saw civilians fleeing the villages to the Internally Displaced People’s Camps (IDPs) for protection from being caught in crossfire or being abducted by the rebels. I could not access this village until in 2017 when I began clearing the bush for producing food, and most importantly, constructing my dream home.
In 2019, I chose five youths from my village that helped me kick-start my cultivation projects and construct grass-thatched huts for me. These are youths who grew up or were born in the Internally Displaced People’s Camps. They had missed on both formal education in classrooms and on the informal education— which one would get from parents and grandparents by bon-fires (Wang Oo) in evenings. These are the youths I call ‘the lost generation of Uganda’ and are the primary objective for my soon to be not-for-profit organization— ‘Anderiya Ono Development Initiatives’. I had studied the lifestyles of these youths, always centering on getting quick money by doing manual casual work and immediately going to drink it up while smoking marijuana from village drinking joints; yet many of them are already co-habiting and have children who should be going to schools and Sunday schools. It is the mothers of these children who fend for the family, sometimes leading to domestic violence and single motherhood. My passion is to cause a spark in the lives of these youths and change their mindset from being irresponsible to responsible and God- fearing.
I went home immediately when I got the money on my account to begin clearing the bush at the site where my dream home would be. I used the five boys and they worked so hard that it took less than a week to clear and level the site. I paid them. And after, I revealed to them, for the first time, that I would use them again in digging the foundation and as helpers to the masons for the project.
When the tipper lorry began ferrying building materials like bricks, sand and stone aggregate, I think jealousy and envy must have engulfed the entire neighborhood because it became an uphill task assembling the youths to dig up the foundation for me. I was only rescued after two weeks of searching youths from the neighboring villages to do the work, but at twice the usual cost others would pay for similar work load. After two more weeks, the foundation for a nine roomed house was completed but other materials like bricks; sand and aggregate remained at the site which measures about sixty meter by sixty meters. Activities stopped at the site.
The last straw for me came in April 2021 when I went back to my village again hoping to clear the site of my project off the sprouting grass, construct the wall of the round hut, clear some land for planting sesame (simsim) and do some cultivation. I had planned to stay in the village for a maximum of one week but I had to take a whole three weeks with only one of the works done- the construction of the wall.
One month before going, I phoned the leader of the youths, one Ochora-Obik, to organize his boys to cut down the trees for the simsim garden. Work which would cost less than shillings 50,000/= (about US$ 14 dollars), he charged shillings 150,000/= (about US$ 41 dollars), which I even agreed to pay once the work is done. But to my surprise, when I went there, I found that the trees had not been cut. I was heartbroken.
My plan ‘B’ was now to use a power saw since I did not want to prolong my stay in the village without a laptop. My two old laptops crushed as I was preparing to go to the village and write from there also. I met another heartbreak; the politics of ‘you wait’ as a delaying tactics to frustrate your efforts. When I finally made up my mind to leave everything in the hands of God, I received a phone call from the owner of the power saw, who told me that he was releasing the power saw but it had some technical fault, which they should correct. A motor cycle carrying three people arrived with a power saw. I was exited upon meeting them.
I took them to assess the workload at the gardens and we returned to my temporary home where we discussed the transaction. Shillings 300,000/= (about US$ 82 dollars) went and we agreed to start work in the next morning since it was already evening. When they returned in the morning, the leader said I should first look for the spanner number four to replace and fix a spare part before beginning the work. I tried to call the owner of the power saw, but his phone was off. I left them standing and went to a neighbor for the spanner but he didn’t have one. When I called the owner of the power saw, his phone was on and I told him what the team had said. He asked me to talk to their leader, and when I told him that I was in the neighborhood looking for the spanner, he, instead, began to quarrel complaining that I should not have left the machine with them in the first place. I was disheartened.
When I returned, I found that they had dismantled the machine and were already urging me to let them begin the work. I was confused. Just a while earlier, they had requested for a spanner before work could begin but now they are ready without the spanner. I smelt foul play. I simply told them to fix the machine as they found it and return to the owner before starting my work.
As you read this, only the hut was constructed and I blew up the investment of the cultivation project. I still don’t know if my gardens will be ready by the next planting season. I have now retreated back to Gulu City to draw up other strategies of pushing my projects forward and changing the ‘mindsets’ of the youths back in the village.
The words of Sir Thomas More came to mind: “Waiting is a difficult work when you wait as I wait”
Source of original article: Black Star News (www.blackstarnews.com).
The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of Global Diaspora News (www.GlobalDiasporaNews.com).
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