Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Latest from Kim and Clive

Aarh – a wonderful downpour of rain two days ago after several months of hot, dry conditions that have had an effect on the whole Rakai District. Christopher Nyero and Bukenya did a rain dance in celebration!

We (Clive and Kim) have now been in Uganda for three weeks and are gradually acclimatising ourselves to a total lifestyle change, with all its challenges and adventures. We have been warmly welcomed by wonderful people at Sabina School and the surrounding community and can’t wait for all the children to return after the school holidays.

Mike has been showing us around the permaculture project at the school and it’s exciting to see all the work that has been done so far. With the hot weather and no children around to do the watering, the garden has suffered. Several fruit trees haven’t made it and the Mandala Garden has experienced a lot of die-back and the organic material has composting down exposing the roots of many plants and toppling them over. The front entrance looks great although we’re waiting expectantly for the grass to grow to help keep the dust down.

We’re making compost again as we slowly sift through the muddle of organic material and plastics that has accumulated at the back of the Mandala Garden. And following the rains on Monday we sowed seed directly into the Mandala Garden, protected from the sun by banana leaves laid loosely on top (a bit of any experiment, so let’s hope it works). Nyero and Charles are constructing a shaded nursery area for propagation of seedlings to restock the Mandala Garden. After looking around at other nursery set-ups, we have commissioned Ben and Charles to make small clay pots at Kiwanga in which to grow seedlings (most seedlings here are grown in small plastic bags which results in further litter in the environment).

With Charles and Nyero getting some experience at building shade structures, we have also asked them to extend the existing shade frame in Freedom Park to provide more shade for the kids when they return.

Mike is busy tending to the 100+ fruit trees that have been planted – watering, mulching, clearing around then, replanting any that have been lost to the dry. He is involved in establishing the grey water system outside the boys dormitory which needs some remedial concrete work. His advice and local knowledge is invaluable to us as we find our feet.

In a week or so we hope to be able to place the order for about 100,000 litres of plastic water tanks, which will most likely sit at the main school building and also at the library, primarily to feed the proposed main vegetable garden.

Plenty on the go .. and lots to do in the future. But in case you’re getting the idea that we’re go, go, go, that’s really not the case. We’re keen to take our time – to observe the natural rhythms around us and to get to know the special people here who make up this community. Everyday we are touched by the generosity of people who are keen to pitch in when something needs to be done, and the laughter that’s never far away. A few nights ago we had a spontaneous Dance Party using Kim’s radio. It’s true, muzungus can’t dance (certainly not as well as Ugandans) but in a typically generous gesture Clive was declared the ‘winner’, despite Mike admitting that he had to turn away when Clive got going! Lots of laughs.


Jan Smart said...

How wonderful to have that beautiful rain. Keep up the rain dances Christopher and Bukenya. (And Clive!)

jairus' daughter said...

Welcome to Sabina!! Keep up the good work, it sounds like you're doing a great job.
Make sure you learn the hipshaking Baganda dances =)

Aunt Talitha

ethanappleseed said...

Howdy Clive + Kim!
Ethan Roland here of Permaculture Across Borders; Thank you so much for your energy and effort at Sabina!

I'm in Thailand right now teaching a Permaculture Design Course (, and the folks here have found a new material for nursery pots: Coconuts! After flattening the bottom and opening the top to drink & eat, the coconuts are filled with soil and planted with seeds. Multiple functions in action!


Anonymous said...

Good luck in Rakai! I've been a short-time visitor twice and envy you the longer time there. Hope to get back this summer, depending on family obligations here.