If I thought the route into Gulu yesterday was rural, I have discovered a whole new meaning today. We left the town and drove along a red dirt road past endless grass and trees, dotted every so often with clusters of mudhuts, or pairs or singles. As we drove we passed a steady stream of people, some on bikes but most on foot, many with loads carried on their heads, the women often with small children strapped to their backs. We were miles from any kind of settlement and I wondered how long it would take them to reach their destination and how long it would take them to get home.
We also passed an Internally Displaced People's camp, a remnant from the bitter and brutal war between the Government and rebel forces that has ravaged this region, where so many of these huts were crammed together in row upon row, the reasoning being that the Ugandan forces could ensure the security of these Acholi villagers if they all lived in the same place. Security being a fairly loosely applied word.
After receiving the approval of a guard armed with a spear, we were allowed into the Watoto Village of Labora to begin our work to house eight children whose lives have been upended by the civil war.
With the gracious and patient help of the Ugandan builders we have managed about a dozen courses of bricks, good progress by all accounts. It has been hot and tiring work but thrilling to be labouring in a tangible way to further God's kingdom and to bless and home his children.
I have made attempts to learn a few words in the local language, to the amusement and delight of my tutors. Each time I think I have grasped a phrase they quickly teach me a new one causing me instantly to forget the first. I think I greet someone with 'how are you?" and reply that I am ok, as well as say goodbye, ask someone their name and say "I'm back" which is useful for our frequent trips to the house who have generously allowed us to use their toilet!