For me, a new year doesn’t start on January the first and it rarely lasts 365 days. My years are not years but chapters and they start all over the place. So this time, for 365 days, my year is HEART (#oneword365). I’m no good at heart.
What I am good at is wholeheartedly throwing myself into things with a little too much enthusiasm, passion and anger. Watching it all get too much, then building up a lock box around my heart and promising I will never do that again! So this year my word is heart, a promise that after my passionate outbursts of honesty and heart I will not turn the key!

It started for me 3 years ago with a song, which turned into a prayer, ‘break my heart for what breaks yours’. A week later it was physical, the chance to spend 2 weeks in Uganda. By the summer it was tangible I was there, breaking! A year after that, my gap year plans fell through and the next day I was asked to return to Uganda. Broken.
Broken for this.

Chapter Uganda. . .
A year ago today I left my childhood home in sleepy Suffolk, my quite comfortable and thoroughly enjoyed job, and the confident familiarity of knowing everyone (and perhaps everything?)in my little town. It wasn’t enough.
Despite being one of the most irritatingly ‘logical’ post-it-note, chalk board, text me first people on the planet, anyone who knows me also knows I need fresh air, adventure and a healthy chunk of unexpected risk!

So a year ago today, almost to the minute, I stepped off the plane into the overwhelming heat of Ugandan night. All I remember is that the stars in Uganda’s capital shine a thousand time brighter than rural England, especially when you first step out, and the smiling love of the people who came to meet me shaped 150 days in Churchill’s ‘Pearl of Africa’.

I don’t want to talk about what I did in Uganda, because most of you already know, and actually I’m not so sure the things I did matter so much. But people have pointed out that I never finished my blog. It’s true, and I still haven’t. Partly because when I came home I just didn’t know what to say and it felt wrong to force out words that weren’t at all what I wanted to say, and I’ve learned in times like that it’s just better to keep quiet!
But most of all? My BIG Ugandan Adveture isn’t over. Writing an ending post scares me because I’m afraid that one day I might forget that my heart was broken for a cause, or worse, that I might build a safe box around my heart and harden it to the Uganda it was broken for.

So this isn’t the end, even if it’s the last post I write. It’s an honest lasting memory of why.
I did not go to Uganda to bring anything material, I came with a heart full of love and a head full of ideas.

And now I’ve come home, my heart longs to do these things again. . .

I long to feel the joy of seeing a street child in uniform after worried weeks pleading with him to stay in school.

My heart wants to pass half empty bottles of water to determined little hands begging at car windows to see the smiles of delight.

I long to take a bodaboda home for the adventure and risk of shooting through Kampala on a moped in 30 degree heat.

I long to drink milkshake in the corner of a busy cafe and talk for hours about street boys, heart, welsh words, curry sauce and freedom.

I long to hear the laughter of children on a once in a lifetime swimming trip.

I long to kayak down the river Nile, just once more.

I long to see Precious’ confident march into school every term, to feel with every inch of me that this little village girl might just change something one day!

I long for that one strange experience in a dingy African hairdresser’s, when ladies just give you their babies to hold.

I long to dance and sing my heart out in beautiful African Church.

I long for g-nuts beef, Edinance’s cooking and fresh fenne fruit.

I long to hear the girls laugh and watch them dance again like they did when the letters came from England.

I long for those evenings of tea and custard creams, listening to some of the most incredible stories of faith I’ve ever heard.

I long to share that first time when baby Rachel didn’t cry at a white person again.

I long to swim in Africa’s deepest lake again.

I long to walk through slums where street children sleep under buildings and know my heart will always be broken for them.

I long for the company of the people who became my family when I was 4000 miles form ‘home’.

I long for hysterical laughter helping Precious to kill the cockroaches.

I long to ride the bicycle ambulance for the first time and know the hope it holds.

And as much as I hate cities I long to be pulled through the noisy sweaty crowd of owino market in search of clothes for a village lady’s business.

In fact, the only thing I do not long for is another bout of Dengue fever!

So that’s it. I’ve left Uganda but luckily it refuses to leave me!
Now’s your challenge. Next time you ask me about Uganda (or for the first time if you haven’t) lets just skip the small talk – we all know I’m rubbish at it anyway!
Ask me why I wept at the justice of sending a street child away from school for a week. Ask how much I’d barter for a dozen eggs in church, and why. What it feels like to lie in a Ugandan hospital bed 2 weeks before you’re due to fly home. How precious a custard cream becomes, or how it feels when our street boys let me score just one goal in football!

Ask questions of the heart. And maybe, just maybe they’ll provoke enough honest heartfelt answers for me to write again.

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Letters FROM England!

Finally able to give you the other half of ‘Letters to England’ as last week the replies came!

Way back in March, I asked Primary 7 at Mulago Bright Standard Primary School, Kampala, to write letters to children at All Saints Middle School, Sudbury, where I worked before coming to Uganda. We spent a weeks worth of English lessons thinking and planning our letters before writing them out and decorating them (very enthusiastically as I’d brought colouring pencils!) before I posted them home.

Last week the replies came back and everyone had at least one letter, one of the girls had four!
After 5 mins of chaotic excitement, jumping dancing and shouting, they all read their letters and promised to write replies by Wednesday so I can collect them and take them to All Saints when I return.
Below is Martin, the only boy in the class, he was so happy to find his reply was from another boy! The only boy to send a reply from All Saints!


Finally, thanks to Alison Herbert, James Devlin, Katie Gordon and ‘My Little Pony’ for feeding me!

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The answer is ALWAYS Uncle Charis!

Another weekend in the village and I have. . .

  • Helped to fix a borehole
  • Attended a medical camp
  • Discovered THREE new Mzungus (white people), That’s already doubled numbers!
  • Oh, and I’ve had a well-meaning lady tell me I am becoming fat. . . not to worry, it’s a compliment here!A local community in Idinda needed repairs to their borehole, but had only managed to raise some of the cost so Watering Roots funded the rest. We then needed a borehole engineer to do the work for us, and once again Uncle Charis was the answer! Who knew he was a borehole engineer!? Uncle Charis is ALWAYS the answer!


LEFT – Uncle Charis removing the pipe from inside so it can be cleaned and broken parts can be replaced.
RIGHT – Looking inside the borehole, it goes very deep beneath the surface to reach pockets of water.


The pipe is incredibly long to reach the water underneath, and eventually when fixed there’s plenty of clean water flowing again!

Borehole repairs complete!

Thanks to Theo and Jonny for some yummy food!
And please have a look at our photo challenge, what pictures do you want to see this month?

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Beware Mosquitos!

Thanks to James Devlin, Katie Gordon and Theo Roberts (Happy Birthday – hope you had a lovely day!) for feeding me!

Last week I went to the village on a mosquito mission! 20 hours on the village, 20 nets buy, and 20 to deliver! After an afternoon speeding round tiny homesteads on a boda boda we managed to distribute all but six mosquito nets.

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A good afternoon well spent! Will complete the rest this weekend, before repairing a borehole!

Also this month we’re starting our photo challenge! Find out about it on the Watering Roots facebook page;

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Bethany, babies and bicycles. . .

Thank you Katie Gordon, Chris Daniels, Jonny Abbott and The Very Hungry Caterpillar for feeding me! I have to confess it’s been a very long time since I posted anything!
Since then we’ve had Bethany come to stay. . . meaning lots of things to do in the village, lots of laughing, and even going on Safari.

Bethany is planning on becoming a midwife, so we found things to help out with at the clinic.

We constructed several flat-pack hospital beds. . . including testing them out!

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And saw a few too many immunisations for my liking!

But most importantly, we created a bicycle ambulance. In rural Uganda, very few people own a car, and many of the paths can’t be driven on, particularly in rainy season when the mud turns into a soupy mush!

We’d seen a similar idea before, so we designed our own and took it to the welders. They surprised us by their organisation and clever things and for £75 it was hand made over 3 days! Everyone got involved, and it was quite nice to know we had the most exciting project in the yard!


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And finally the (almost) finished thing! All that’s left is for it to be painted – pictures to follow when that’s completed.


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International Travellers

Thank you to Hannah Nasmyth-Miller (I owe you a Neros date!)  and The Very Hungry Caterpillar (whoever you might be!) for feeding me on my Birthday and the last week.

The last week or so has been VERY busy, but lots of post arrived! Thank you Becca, Jonny and Katie. . . but chocolate was pure liquid! Safely in the fridge now, and well worth it for some Irish Cadbury’s!

More importantly, I’ve been back to Lake Bunyoni and then to Rwanda so I could renew my visa. Good news, I’ve been given the full 3 months!
We took the Post Bus to Lake Bunyoni which was beautiful again! We canoed and even went swimming in the lake; it’s surprisingly warm! Then traveled to Rwanda as I had to leave Uganda for at least 24 hours in order to be given a new visa when returning.
Rwanda is incredibly clean and safe compared to Uganda! Bodabodas have to be registered and wear a number at all times, it’s illegal to take two passengers, and you must wear a helmet. . . nothing like Uganda where they carry as many people as they can fit, plus a goat a chicken and some sugar cane!
Whilst we were there, we visited the Rwandan genocide museum which was really interesting, but shocking to see what humans are capeable of. Over 250,000 people are buried there in mass graves.
But on a lighter note, we did arrive just as Angelina Jolie was leaving so have pictures of her and all the press people!

Finally we came home on Wednesday on the wrong coach, ours was cancelled, so spent 12 hours unable to move, eat or breath! (Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but it wasn’t far off!)

Now ready for two more crazy busy weeks!

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Camels and Chickens. . .

As promised, here is Missouri – the camel who only understands Swahili!
And the chicken we were given, carefully packaged in a carrier bag for easy transportation! After the car journey, Livingstone took him the rest of the way on a bodaboda (moped/taxi). . . brave chicken!


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