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The Esuubi Team Blog

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By: Richard

02/06/2016: Everest Conquered!

After a mammoth near 23 hours worth of cycling on Monday (and the early hours of Tuesday morning!) Richard and Andy became only the 1096th and 1097...

By: Richard

11/05/2016: Everest for Esuubi

Richard has been an Esuubi supporter for a number of years. On May 30th he and Andy Williams will be attempting something quite crazy - ascending t...

By: Janet

25/04/2016: My heart still feels like it is in Uganda

We have been back in the UK just three days now and in some ways my heart still feels like it is in Uganda.  Looking at all the various pictur...

By: Peter Y

15/04/2016: Ending our time in Mityana

This is our last Ekiwumulo day so not a great deal to report. On our way there some small bundles of clothes that would have been taken to a villag...

By: Doris

12/04/2016: Returning after eight years

I was very excited, if a bit fearful, when I heard that Esuubi were arranging another trip to Ekiwumulo. I applied and was accepted as a member of ...

By: Josie

11/04/2016: A day of "rest"

Hello from Mityana Uganda. What are my thoughts about the first week of our trip as this is the 2nd visit to Esuubi and then about today. ...

By: Ursula

09/04/2016: Saturday "day" fever

Saturdays are special at Ekiwumulo. No school for the children, so only the “residents” are about. We get to spend a lot of time with a...

By: Jayne

08/04/2016: Back to work

After being rained off yesterday we were excited to get back to work again today. We have lots to do and are determined to get the jobs done before...

By: Jonno

07/04/2016: Musings of a two year old

This morning the team (or most of it!) were rudely awoken at about 6am by an immense Ugandan thunder storm. I wasn’t. Kate and I had ...

By: Liz

07/04/2016: Returning to Mityana

2016 is the second time that Liz has joined an Esuubi team in Mityana. Here she reflects on her day on 6th April. Today has been another busy d...

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Posted: 19:40:16 on 02/06/2016

Everest Conquered!

After a mammoth near 23 hours worth of cycling on Monday (and the early hours of Tuesday morning!) Richard and Andy became only the 1096th and 1097th riders to ascend the height of Everest in a day, and they did it for Esuubi. Here Richard reflects on the highs and lows of the experience. If you haven't yet donated to their fundraising effortsthen why not do so at everest.esuubi.org.uk?

So, we did it! 22 hours 42 minutes and 342 kilometres later we got to the 193rd rep of Pashley Road, a mere 6 hours behind our clearly optimistic schedule!

We had planned brief stops every two hours but they got longer and more frequent as the afternoon dragged on. But neither of us were going to give in, however long it took. I for one was never going to attempt this more than once! But we will forever be the 1096th and 1097th in the world to achieve an Everesting :)

We kept saying it but we picked a good hill. It's shallow enough so we could trog up it all day and while Andy and I are not fast we can keep on trucking. I cannot imagine doing it on your own without support though - every whoop and cheer from the events at #81 or the random pedestrians really does make such a difference. As did the company of other riders - massive thanks to Steve Carville (my old form tutor from school who I haven't seen for 18 years) who did 3hrs 30 with us early on (although bring your own gels next time!) and then GP Greg for two sessions, a roadside knee assessment, a puncture repair and doing his last stint on a 1938 Claude Butler fixie!!

It seemed like there was lots of happening at 81 Pashley Road which was fantastic as the day raised a great total for Esuubi which really feels brilliant. And the shouts and whoops each time we went past helped enormously.

It wasn't all plain sailing though - both of us had a mental wobble around 4-5000m when knees started to complain and it was clear we would be finishing in the dark. A few ibuprofen / "magic smarties" and a roadside consultation with a fellow rider who happened to be a GP got us through. It's amazing how the mind is what needs to be controlled - I wanted to climb off around 4000m but willed myself to 5000m. Then we got to the equivalent of Base Camp (5364m) and then I struggled on to 6000m. By then it was getting dark but actually I felt better when we realised it was 64 reps to go which we broke into 8 sets of 8. And a set of 8 felt easily achievable. Do 4 and then it's just 4 until you get a break! But then 8s were too many and we did 4x6s and then some 4s. The last ten were just hard because I just didn't want to do any more times up the same darn hill....

My family were amazing though; I know I didn't stop to chat much but to know you were there was another big moral boost. Special thanks to cousin John for coming back for a 1030-0130 stint and his lap counting interpretative dancing. And to my Mum and wife Debra for sitting up in the cold until the bitter end, wrapped in multiple layers, blankets and red wine!

My top tips for any aspiring Everesters. Do it on hill where you will get loads of support. Eat as much as you can the night before as I struggled with anything solid from mid afternoon (microwaveable rice pouches were good though). Have support riders; they fill an hour or two with a different conversation. Do take it on though - it's quite an experience and something you will never forget :)

A massive THANK YOU to Richard and Andy for keeping on going. Please do show your support by contributing to at everest.esuubi.org.uk. Same again next year?!

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Posted: 19:39:06 on 11/05/2016

Everest for Esuubi

Richard has been an Esuubi supporter for a number of years. On May 30th he and Andy Williams will be attempting something quite crazy - ascending the height of Everest on their bikes in just a day. As he prepares for the feat Richard has been kind enough to provide us with a few thoughts on how he's feeling and how the training's going.

If you want to support Andy and Richard in this ride, you can donate at esuubi.org.uk/everest4esuubi

Everest. 29,029 feet. It seems so obvious now to setup a challenge of riding your bike up and down the same hill until you’ve reached 29,029ft of climbing. That’s exactly what Hells500 did a few years ago and Everesting was born. Since then, something like just 500 people have achieved it and I believe less than 100 in the UK.

I have done one "silly bike thing" before, that of riding John O’Groats to Lands End (JOGLE) as a non-stop team relay. As you can imagine it was both a brilliant and awful experience (and a wonderful one on reflection) and so when we heard about it, the idea of Everesting struck a chord with myself and Andy Williams, a fellow non-stop JOGLE’r.

So, we picked a date and a hill. Once you Everest a hill, it belongs to you. And so I have this theory that the hill should mean something to you. I grew up on a hill in Eastbourne, my mum still lives there and that was reason enough! It’s half a mile of very quiet residential road, not too steep (average 4.8% for you cycling nerds) and in easy reach of the support crew but most importantly it also provided the chance to ride for Esuubi which was the icing on the cake. I did a test ride last summer of 17 reps which was actually nowhere near as boring as I expected, although I did learn that once I thought about stopping my legs did not want to play anymore. It was taking an average of 3:20 per ascent at 200w (more stuff for the cycling nerds!) with 1:15 descent, which makes a simple of 5 minutes per rep or 12 reps per hour.

It seemed many months away when we put it in the calendar and here we are with three weeks to go. Training is going ok - it’s always so hard to tell! I had some good rides on my summer bike recently (which has a power meter) so I can properly track my fitness and it tells me that I am +30 watts over a local 11 minute climb. For those non cyclists, that means I'm generating 15% more power than I did last summer, and power (as opposed to speed which can easily impacted by even minor changes in weather, equipment etc.) is the only reliable way to track fitness on the bike. It also means I am effectively half a Bradley Wiggins... I'll take that!

The power readings are very heartening but I must keep up the evening turbo rides along with riding to work every day I can. I'm lighter than I was for JOGLE at just under 70kg and will keep tracking it each week as it will be critical for so much climbing. I am learning that I am certainly slower in the freezing cold we've had over the winter (and recently) than a 8 degree day – hopefully the end of May will be kind to us. A headwind all day would be very depressing but hopefully it is a tail / cross wind off the sea. I am 10% ahead on cumulative hours than I was for JOGLE which is also good to know (thanks Veloviewer for the incredibly useful stats you provide!). Andy is recovered from his minor crash (top tip: don’t chase downhills KOMs on 40mph wind!) and is also increasing his speed during his commutes to and from work. Neither of us have done more than a two hour ride since last August and there are no long rides planned so we'll be applying Sudacrem every break!

We’ve had a minor faff in the build-up – I calculated 168 reps via Strava from my test ride but the GPS reading didn’t look right and so Veloviewer kindly(!) corrected for us, which added another 32 reps to make it around 200 (Oh dear!) Our outline plan sees us starting at 05:00 and finishing at 21:30, riding for two hours and then stopping for 5 minutes to restock bottles and food but we know from JOGLE that plans rarely survive contact once you start riding. We plan to stop every 2 hours for food / drink restock and eat ~20g of carbs every 3 reps, or 15 minutes. I had my wobbles on JOGLE when I didn’t eat enough - I distinctly remember screaming at the wind during one leg and being thoroughly upset with life, which was entirely fixed with some warm food and a little nap!

It's very cliché to say something like "whatever we do, it is nothing compared to what the children are going through" but I will certainly be thinking of them when the going gets tough. Please do come down to Eastbourne and cheer us on if you can - there will be lots of events throughout the day at number 81. See you there!

If you want to support Andy and Richard in this ride, you can find out more about the events that will be happening throughout the day and / or donate at esuubi.org.uk/everest4esuubi.

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Posted: 07:21:30 on 25/04/2016

My heart still feels like it is in Uganda

We have been back in the UK just three days now and in some ways my heart still feels like it is in Uganda.  Looking at all the various pictures taken by me and also fellow team mates who have been busy posting theirs on Facebook just illustrates what a marvellous time we had in Uganda. Seeing the children who Esuubi supports on their home ground is such a privilege and none of us will ever forget their faces.  Learning a little more about how the children live and their schooling will enable us to be more informed when telling others about Esuubi.

Before I left for Uganda I started questioning why I had decided to join the trip this year. One of my motives was to actually complete such a trip with my sister, as we had previously tried to do so on two previous occasions and each time we ended up cancelling on health grounds. So this time we actually made it together making it a special time for us both.

But what other reasons are there for joining such a trip? Well, one reason is that you will see firsthand the fantastic work that Esuubi is doing  and also meet lots of lovely people who are involved in the project in Uganda.

Many of the Ugandans wanted to thank us for coming out to Mityana where the school and orphanage is based. Really? I found that hard to accept at first because surely it's about me and what I was going to get from the experience. Is it though? In the UK we are living a privileged life in comparison to our brothers and sisters in Uganda yet they can teach us so much about love, family and relationships. We have many material possessions yet without love we have nothing to give.

The Esuubi 2016 trip was great - we had a good team with differing skills and talents and our prayer is that all our offerings, both big and small, will enhance the work of Esuubi and serve to demonstrate that we can each serve one another in different ways, irrespective of where we live in the world.

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Posted: 17:50:59 on 15/04/2016

Ending our time in Mityana

This is our last Ekiwumulo day so not a great deal to report. On our way there some small bundles of clothes that would have been taken to a village, but that visit had to be abandoned, were distributed to some of the ‘cottages’ that line the track to Ekiwumulo. On arrival the main thing was the completion of the decorating programme so, with few exceptions, it was all hands to the pumps – or, in this case, the paint pots. That completed to Nigel’s satisfaction we finished early, made a brief stop for tea and cakes at the Café, and came back to Mitiyana in time for people to do their packing ready for an early start tomorrow to the Queen Elizabeth Park.

So a few personal impressions from the past few days. Of the arrival at Ekiwumulo as the bus comes to the end of the track on the upper level with the red roofed, yellow brick buildings below us on their terraces waiting for us. But the over-riding memory is of the children, not the buildings. Of a gang of four five-year old children, led by a stocky boy, clearly the leader, with two more boys as henchmen and a girl; I thought he might have been a bit of a bully until he shared his mug of maize porridge with them. Then off they went, in single file, with the girl at the back (of course) in search of mischief.

The smaller children in particular are incurably inquisitive and frequently had to be shooed out of the building where we were painting – as did the occasional hen. A teenage girl ran past with the long, easy stride of a long-distance runner.

Of a roomful of children of all ages in a Holiday Club session about the parable of the wise man who built his house on a rock and the foolish man who built his on sand; most were paying attention when I introduced it, with a Teacher as interpreter, but a small group of older boys at the back were clearly bored. Fortunately Josie was with me and knew a song based on the story; she soon had all the children singing, other songs followed and the session finished with them marching round and round the room - no-one was bored and some feed-back from other sessions indicated that the children had understood the story.

Of course not all the children were happy all the time and occasional squabbles could be seen but the other side was how caring the children are for each other. There is, in other word a family spirit that pervades the whole community much to the credit of the Headteacher, his staff and the House Mothers.

We come back each evening to Mityana of course and there the impression is of a lively, busy town with the streets in the centre lined by small lock-up shops where you can buy anything from ladies’ dresses (the colourful plastic models outside are all white, not black) or, on the outskirts, a coffin of your choice. And the traffic is dominated by the motorcycles including those, known as bodas, that  ply as taxis with women sitting side-saddle – women never drive a bike; a well-dressed woman got off one in front  of Kolpings and paid the driver as she would have done a London taxi. And they carry freight – our bus had to swerve to avoid a bike with a bundle of 6 foot wooden planks lashed crosswise on the back.

Time is ticking on and we need to be up early to go on safari, so I have to close and hope that we will soon see you back in the UK. 

 

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Posted: 08:08:31 on 12/04/2016

Returning after eight years

I was very excited, if a bit fearful, when I heard that Esuubi were arranging another trip to Ekiwumulo. I applied and was accepted as a member of the team. It seemed a long time from October 2015 to April 2016, but how the time flew.

The last time I was in Mityana was eight years ago (as part of the very first Esuubi team) and a lot has happened since then.

As I remember, back in 2008, we helped clear the site and started the foundations for the school. We left a mango tree, which was art of our shelter from the Ugandan rain and sun, and we were also allowed to pick the mangoes and eat them – they were delicious. It was great to see it still there!

In 2008 we had to bring in the water on the backs of lorries, as there was no water on site. We sometimes had fish in the water as it was taken directly from the river. We learnt to mix cement for the men building the walls. We also learnt to lay bricks. We had local help and advice, and if my memory serves me right, Nigel was the go between.

Our transport was on the back of lorries, we all had to squeeze on board! We had to duck every time we came to a low branch – woe betide us if we didn’t! The locals would stare at us and we felt they thought, “what a site, all these white people travelling in the back of lorries”. Now of course we travel in taxis.

I was really excited that we were driven to Ekiwumulo on our first day in Uganda. As I approached it I couldn’t believe my eyes – it was wonderful to see the orphanage village up and running. There were 150 young people waiting for us to arrive. We had a tour round – there is now an administration block including a library. There are seven classrooms and seven little houses, which we had come to decorate. Each house has a Mumma, with around 20 children who they care for. There are three nursery classes and the children range from age three.

All I can say is what a wonderful vision the Esuubi team had. May it continue to be a success.

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Posted: 07:18:28 on 11/04/2016

A day of "rest"

Hello from Mityana Uganda.

What are my thoughts about the first week of our trip as this is the 2nd visit to Esuubi and then about today.  Firstly the flight was more arduous than I had anticipated and as I had both my knees replaced last year the 2nd being in October. Although I felt I was fit enough for the trip, “Ekiwumulo” is quite demanding mentally and physically the first three days I really struggled and thought I may not cope. However I gradually built up my stamina over the week and feel fit and able once more.

A new experience for me was to help on the holiday club every morning for 4 days. I helped with craft and bible story both which required some preparation in the evening. The children love singing and I was able to teach them a song, they particularly enjoyed decorating their pencil cases. We had 40-60 children per session and 5 sessions per morning!! Thank you to the teachers for all their help with crowd control.

Yes I have been doing the medical checks on the children again.  The new children and then working through the classes. We cannot complete all in such a short time but we can do our best. I found my first “Jigger” ( a black worm that burrows under the nail or the skin of the foot) I did not extract it as I had a very able and experienced Ugandan called Kevin who was an expert in this matter!!

Now to today my first visit to a Ugandan Baptist Church. We had some amazing gospel type singing’ dancing by the children and a talk about the importance and reasons for praying. A long service just over 2 hours but I was sat at the back near the open door so did not get too hot.

After a fabulous lunch and a bit more shopping at the Esuubi café. Yes Nigel I have been buying just a couple of lovely paintings! A group of us went to see the sponsored children at Ebenezer House. After a tour of the school and living accommodation I had the opportunity to meet my sponsored child Jamirah who is now 17 years. A bit behind in her schooling due to a difficult start she takes her ‘O’ levels next year. She is taller than me and seemed relaxed and happy to see me. I was amazed that she remembered so much about me from the letters I wrote. As I saw her I found myself very emotional as I have waited so long to meet her. What a lovely time we had chatting and I showed her photos of my family and friends.

So now as I close this piece the rest of the team are sewing, chatting with our Ugandan friends who have been helping us with any interpreting. Some play Uno and have great fun.

Time for bed to be continued tomorrow.

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Posted: 18:50:22 on 09/04/2016

Saturday "day" fever

Saturdays are special at Ekiwumulo. No school for the children, so only the “residents” are about. We get to spend a lot of time with all the children: playing new outdoor games, sitting down and having a chat with the children – getting to know the “residents” better.  Just absolutely wonderful.

Today we also introduced the game “memory/pairs” to the class in 6th grade: I had brought wooden squares and painting supplies from home. With the help of Liz and the long-time Esuubi friend, Wilbur, and the creativity of the children, we ended up with very unique designs in pairs for a homemade memory game.

Today was also the day that the children received gifts from the team. As everywhere, they were in great need of new toothbrushes and a new set of playing clothes. This year, they all also received a drinking bottle. And to make the use of the new toothbrushes valid, they got a good sweet treat on this special occasion.

For me personally, it was a very special day as during the week, I decided to sponsor a child. This little boy (8 years old) was already at Ekiwumulo during my last visit in 2012. He caught my eye then, being very studious, a bit shy but a very content and happy boy. And he still is. So when I asked him if he would like to have me as a sponsor, his face lit up and one happy person has a bright smile on his face since yesterday. Today he showed me his school books and wrote a beautiful thank you note in the book he received from his sponsor today. I am very touched and grateful to support this boy.

On a special note: Coming from Switzerland, I am very surprised by the new advertising campaign of the luxury watch company ROLEX here in Uganda: many handwritten carton displays offering Rolex on almost every street corner. No, my dear friends back home. The value of your precious watch has not declined! But one of the national foods of Uganda is the Rolex: a chapatti/crèpe with a thin egg omelette rolled up...

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Posted: 18:03:54 on 08/04/2016

Back to work

After being rained off yesterday we were excited to get back to work again today. We have lots to do and are determined to get the jobs done before we leave.

The day began with holiday club. The children were very excited and enjoyed bible stories, singing, crafts and games. It was such a precious time which we will all cherish forever. There was something special about walking around the school grounds and hearing 300 happy voices laughing and joking. At that point I knew we were making a difference and offering hope.

Yesterday many of the ladies from our team, were working late into the night sewing collars onto school dresses. It was wonderful to see the children wearing the mended school uniform. They oozed pride as they showed off their collars to their friends (Its surprising what some cotton, a needle and lots of determination can achieve! Well done ladies!)

This afternoon, I spent scrubbing walls with Nat. It was very hot and sweaty work but luckily we had come prepared - an ipod and speakers!!! When we felt our energy levels dropping we turned the volume up and had a quick boogie with the children. It was such a privilege to clean the rooms for them and can’t wait to paint them tomorrow.   

We came back exhausted but proud that we had made a difference. 

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Posted: 19:04:31 on 07/04/2016

Musings of a two year old

This morning the team (or most of it!) were rudely awoken at about 6am by an immense Ugandan thunder storm.

I wasn’t.

Kate and I had the joy of being woken by our daughters, Teya (two and a half) and Xanthe (nearly 11 months), at five!

This however, wasn't all bad as it presented an excellent opportunity to reflect with Teya on the ten days she’s spent in Uganda on this (her second) visit. So, without further ado, here are the key observations of a two and a half year old:

“The food is nice – I like teeny weeny (ba)nanas and chapattis… and the rice cakes in Mummy’s bag” (bought with us from the UK)

“The children like to touch my hair”

“Amina and Sam are my friends. Maybe they come and play at Maisy and Tibby’s house?”

“Thunder is noisy – I think an ogre is shouting in the clouds” (Someone’s been reading too much Charlie and Lola!)

“What’s the biggest difference between England and Uganda?” - “The trees”

“My feet are all dirty”

“I am painting Granny and Grandpa’s new house” (see above photo)

“I like Granny’s special puzzles and playing with Grandpa. And Nana. Other Grandpa isn’t here with Nana.”

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Posted: 05:21:17 on 07/04/2016

Returning to Mityana

2016 is the second time that Liz has joined an Esuubi team in Mityana. Here she reflects on her day on 6th April.

Today has been another busy day for everyone. The holiday club was on its third day, I spent the morning outside in the sun, playing parachute games with all 300 children who had been split into 5 groups, 5 large groups! Ursula was also doing other games outside. Other members of the team were doing craft activities, singing stories, and other games inside. While this was going on the rest of the team were very busy painting the next children’s house. We have just about finished painting one house, nearly finished a second and have made a start on the cleaning and preparing of the third. The houses consists of the children’s bedrooms, one for the boys and one for the girls – with the mammas bedroom in the middle. Each room has an alcove with any possessions the children have – which is practically nothing – maybe one change of play clothes when they are not wearing their school uniform.

Since I was last here in 2014 each house now has a large water butt which saves the children having to go and collect the water themselves.

Another additional thing since I was here last is that a new toilet block /long drop for the children has been built and is very nearly finished.

Jonno arrived on a boda boda with our lunch around 12.30 – lunch was rolex (chapatti with egg, a little bit of onion and tomato ) mandazi’s (like a deep fried doughnut with no sugar), pineapple, bananas and mango.

After lunch I joined the painting team –the painting is a hard job in this heat and everyone worked solidly in rooms that are still full of bunk beds so there is not much room to move. Then the rain came down very heavily and we were painting in the dark too as the light dimmed. Thankfully a couple of our Ugandan friends came and helped with the painting today. Hopefully they will come back again to help us.

This evening after dinner the whole team brought all the items for the children at the school, a local village and the hospital. There is such a lot of things – it is amazing how much we have managed to get here. There are clothes for all ages, teddies that have been made, toys, games, books, stationary, toothbrushes and toothpastes.

It is now 10pm some are going to bed while others are chatting to a couple of our Ugandan friends.

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