Uganda - Birthplace
Mon 27 Oct
It was raining hard from first light. I joined the youth volunteers for breakfast and busied myself while the whole Christian community went for "devotions". Kurt was enthusiastic about my visit and helpfully offered to take me the 7km along to Kuluva ("cool lee var") hospital just outside town. Missionaries founded it in the 1940s and today enjoys an international reputation for its research on the Ebola virus. It also happens to be where I was born.
We went first to the home of Albert Feisel, a missionary pastor who'd returned to Africa from retirement to help take Kuluva through a major building project. His wife treated us to fresh coffee and home baked cakes while we waited for the rain to stop.
We found the house of Dr Ted Williams where I was actually born. It was being renovated and converted to provide four separate dwellings. Albert showed us plans for future wards, nursing accommodation, and a church. The latter seemed the most important. I found this disappointing as when we walked around they appeared already to have a perfectly useful church, something to do with different tribes not worshiping together. Somehow I would have thought more medical buildings or equipment would have been at the top of the list.
My father had drawn for me a map as best as he could remember of Kuluva from around 1960. It was surprisingly well recalled with many features still in place. This made for a fascinating walk identifying original houses and decaying tennis courts. We also admired the latest building work, a children's ward complete with private ensuite rooms; yes even in far flung provinces of Africa there is a market for this.
Kuluva had seen many tragedies in the years I have been away. Amin had grown up here and was at first sympathetic, later when his troops had made their ruthless stand and later still when revenge was taken by the oppressed; Kuluva saw many bullets, mutilations and massacres. I heard stories of gunmen shooting patients of the "wrong tribe" in their hospital beds. Medical staff were prevented from attending to the wounded and dying. Despite all this, remarkably the church still had in tact a stained glass window behind the altar table that according to my father's map had come from a house in Reading (UK) probably 50 years before.
Uganda - Birthplace