Today started off like most others with 7:30 breaky of fresh fruit, eggs, yogurt, chapatis and all the fixings. With full tummies and our back packs stuffed with water, sunscreen and bug repellent we loaded the van to head to Prossy’s home.
Prossy is the first Mama Nguvu (Nguvu meaning power) recipient. ISEE provided her with ten chickens and 8 piglets to help support her farming business. After a quick stop to purchase foodstuffs and charcoal ( as Prossy would be hosting us for lunch) we began the journey through the chaotic Kampala traffic. Although Irene mentioned in her last post that she is getting used to the traffic I don’t think I could ever get used to it. Too many cars, too many boda bodas and far too many people for me.
After 45 minutes of weaving in and out of traffic we finally turned off onto a dusty red dirt road and soon entered the Slum of Nateete. It did not seem, to me, near as dirty or crowded as the Namuwongo slums perhaps because it was on the edge of the city rather than smack in the middle. At the far edge of the slum we made a right hand turn at the “shack” followed by another right at the “large termite mound” kind of the equivalent to turning right at the large maple tree in Canada. Although we were technically still in the slum it felt like different world as the homes were more spread out and surrounded by the lush green of banana trees, maize, cassava. We pulled up to a small clearing outside Prossy’s home and were immediately welcomed with hugs from Prossy, her teenage daughter, also Prossy and Prossy’s 12 year old grand daughter Katie.
I immediately had the sense that this home was grand central station for all the village children and Prossy was the village ” mom.” There were at least 10 children under the age of 7 playing in the yard. None of these children were Prossy’ yet somehow all of them were.
Although we had been told we were going to be put to work helping Prossy with the animals on her small plot of land, I suspected that this woman was not about to put her Mzungu guests to work. Instead we were served tea under the jackfruit tree, a very delicious milky tea with a hint of lemon grass.
We talked with Prossy briefly and learned that, from the original 10 chickens she now has 150 chicks which she will raise as both laying hens and meat birds. Sadly 4 of her piglets died of illness but all in all business was going well and all of her children are in school. She still has fees to pay for her grandaughter Katie.
Prossy walked us over to a neighbours home where her chicks were being kept. She has yet to build a hen house for them on her plot of land.
Before we knew it, it was time to begin lunch preparations. 1st order of business was to peel the mound of Matooke. Matooke is a thick skinned green banana that requires peeling with a knife. It is only eaten cooked, usually steamed, and tastes nothing like a banana. Katie and I began peeling the Matooke and soon the two Madis and Calen came over to help out. We sent Katie off to learn how to make rainbow loom bracelets with Irene and the children. Calen struggled at first with the art of peeling Matooke, but by the time we were finished I think he was peeling one to my 5. Apollo thought my peeling skills were quite proficient ( for a Mzungu). Prossy gave us a piece of mosquito to net to scrub the black latex gunk off our hands. Once peeled, the Matooke was wrapped in banana leaves. Banana stems were cut into large pieces and placed in a large pot with about 2 inches of water in it. These stems acted as a steaming pan and the bundle of banana leaf wrapped Matooke was then place on top of that. Then another layer of banana leaves was tightly fitted over top and the pot was put on the small charcoal stove to steam.
I kept asking Prossy to give me a job so she let me cut the pineapple and watermelon. My fruit cutting knife was not near as sharp as my Matooke peeling knife so the super ripe pineapple looked a little mangled by the time I was finished but it still tasted delicious. After the fruit was prepared Prossy led me through her plantation to gather firewood and pick maize. We brought the Maize back, shucked it and it was placed on a screen over another small charcoal stove.
All of the food prep happened outside and Prossy’s sisters arrived to help out. Ground nut sauce and rice was made and soon the Matooke was ready to eat. The women served up plates with massive portions. It was soon decided that one plate of food could feed four mzungus.
Once again a wonderful experience with such friendly, loving people but again all good things must come to an end. We loaded the van and after ensuring there were no dogs or small children underneath or behind it we pulled out. Back through the slum and into the hustle and bustle of the city.
Back at home Wendy, Maddy and I walked the monkey block but alas no monkeys. Home for showers before welcoming friends of Erika and Corey for dinner. It is hard to believe we have already been here for a week. Tomorrow we will have a relaxing day before heading out on Safari on Monday, giving Erika and Corey a few days of peace and quiet.