My first and hopefully not my last experience of Mosquito Net Distribution Day. The area we went to is called Bujanko Island to the west of Entebbe. We were driving off road for well over an hour and a lot of it was only just big enough for a car, and part of it over swamp land. I think it is an area that is not visited by a car or truck very often as everyone looked astonished and then the kids come running out of their homes calling Muzungu (white person), smiling and waving. Quite an experience I have to say. It is an eye opener to see the homes they live in, so small, some in worse states than others. Mothers sitting outside with a bowl of water scrubbing clothes by hand and a small open air fire with one pot on cooking the (probably) one meal of the day which is something like a maize mash, or steamed matoke (plantain), rice, possibly a bit of green vegetable and maybe a bit of fish, or goat.
When you give them a net they bob down and shake your hand in thanks, they are so grateful. This makes you feel so sad that you want to just give them a hug. We visited two villages throughout the day and the same thing happened in each. This area were given about 80 nets many years back for pregnant women but nothing since, so it was great to know we have been to an area that probably a lot of net charities don't even realise are there. We distributed around 480 nets and what a wonderful feeling it is to know that over 1000 children are now sleeping safe under those nets. At the end of the distribution they group together, they shout and chant and cheer and clap holding their nets above their head. A wonderful sight. Unfortunately the news spreads very quickly from village to village and before you know it people are arriving from all over the place. How hard to have to say “No, we have no more nets to give out”. I cannot describe how that makes you feel, or the lump that comes up in your throat and you feel the tears welling up inside of you. You try not to look at them in case you see the disappointed look on their faces, but knowing that our Net Bank is now very close to being out of money.
Whilst there we were taken to a house for lunch, hospitality that is enormous. You eat their food and they are honoured to have you there. Their small rations are your rations too, but you eat before them so that you have had enough. Part of you wants to say No, you keep it, but you know they want you to have it so you eat it, and I have to say I enjoyed it!
You see film footage of nets being distributed on the TV, what you don’t see is the bit where they all surge forward to try and get one, the pushing of the kids to the front etc. These shots are obviously edited out before being shown, but I have seen it all and it really, really does happen, such is their hope of their child or children having a mosquito net, yes a £2.50 net, which covers 2 children, not one child and which does not cost £5 as so often advertised. They forget to tell you about admin costs, which we do not have. I know now that my £5 bottle of wine can buy 2 mosquito nets, which is far more important than my bottle of wine. I know I will still have my bottle of wine, but for every bottle of wine I now buy I will also buy 2 mosquito nets. I can only say this day has left a very large impression on me. I also know that I have another one coming on Monday when I visit the Ndeeba Primary School for the first time. Tissues will be at the ready there too. So watch out for that report too.
I know Nikki has posted photos of that day, a day I will remember forever and I hope I will be able to repeat at some time in the future.