Today we purchased the last pieces to go into the kits before heading to Gulu: the underwear. We had decided to invest in the local economy and buy the panties here instead of trying to get them wholesale in Canada (or the US) and then carrying them here. With 500+ kits and 2 pairs of panties per kit, the extra weight would have been impossible to hide. As it is, I cannot believe what we managed to transport between the 5 of us!
Betty, a friend that I met a few years ago who has since opened a tailoring business, looked into the cost for the panties and agreed to take us to buy them today. She told me that we were going downtown to buy them which gave me a scare because we were downtown on Thursday and it was an experience that I did not want to repeat. Luckily, despite the incredible taxi traffic jam, most stores are closed on Sunday so the usual population of this shopping area was reduced by two thirds.
We walked up to a counter where a man was selling panties, bras, men’s undies and socks. He was surrounded by packages. Betty spoke with him and he told her that the price of the panties had increased. Not a big surprise. We normally see a price increase when we are involved in the shopping. Whereas he had initially told her 8,000 shillings for 12 pairs, he had to charge us 10,000 shillings now. That equals $5 a dozen. I told Betty that was no problem and we started counting packages.
We only bought enough panties for the 200 kits we currently have which meant 34 dozen. He tried to add a few packages of thongs and other lacy undies that would not have worked so well with the kits but I managed to spot the packages and refused to take them. We split the 34 packages between the bags I had brought, I paid the bill (which the man took and just threw into a box as if he was used to getting such a large sum of money all the time) and we left.
Once home, we finished putting together the kits. Yesterday we cut and bagged 200 bars of laundry soap. The soap we purchased is blue and is Star brand but apparently it works well. This brand is also bendable so we were able to break it into chunks. It reminds me of thick plastercine. Not having to physically cut the bars really reduced the amount of work.
We added one Ziploc bag with the bar of soap, the second empty Ziploc bag (which becomes the washing machine) and the two pairs of panties to each kit. We now have 10 extra-large Ziploc bags with 20 kits each just waiting to be loaded into the van and transported to Gulu. We anticipate doing presentations at 4 different schools and will make arrangements to return and present again when we have the rest of the kits that are still travelling in the container from Kelowna. They should arrive around the 24th. Marina, Ellen, Corey and I may return to Gulu with the other kits once Kathy has left or we may try our hand in Lira, another community in the North that is working hard to rebuild.
Ironically, we may have better internet in Gulu as the hotel has wifi (when it has power) so our iPads should work. However, always remember that no news if good news and we will send news whenever we can!