Saturday, 21 January 2012

Refuah Shelema to Jessica רפואה שלמה

Update 13th May 2012 - On my last visit to Uganda I believed that there was a possibility that some of my donations were not used for the purpose I thought they were intended for. I decided to make some investigations yet could still not get to the bottom of the matter which bothered me most, as to whether the undoubtedly sick child had actually received the operation I paid for. 

I am somewhat chastened and believe now that monies donated should be followed up closely if they are intended for a communal purpose, or if they are intended to achieve any other goal. 
People are very needy and I will still make small donations to individuals as in the past, but communal charity should not be given to one individual and forgotten about.

I feel that the giver of charity has a responsibility to  follow up and see that the intended beneficiaries actually benefit from the charity given. This is not a foregone conclusion.
Solomon informed me about Jessica a child with a heart problem who he has taken under his wing and for whom funds were needed to pay for an operation. I'm happy to say that the modest amount that Solomon needed has meant that Jessica in the last week underwent a successful heart operation in the privately run chinese hospital in Jinja Uganda.

Solomon says that Jessica although very poorly after the operation is now out of danger. 

Solomon has been מסירת נפש
in taking food, milk and medicaments to Jessica and those caring for her. These are not provided by the hospital.

Everything has to be provided for by the family or as the little girl has no family, by Solomon who cares for Jessica and other orphans in the Abayudaya's Namanyonyi community.

'Ya Shekoach' Solomon for all you have done.

רפואה   שלמה Jessica. May you have a long, healthy and happy life.

N.B. This post was written after shabbat ended. The recorded time is wrong.

Monday, 9 January 2012

With less than two months now until the next trip there is still room in my case for essentials for the Abayudaya

There is a very great need indeed for antimalarials. If you have any left over from a recent trip then they are urgently needed. This need is open ended and in whatever quantity will be useful (with at least 1year before expiry). The main drugs are Malarone (proguanil & atovaquone), Lariam (mefloquine) and Doxycycline but if you have other antimalarials such as those used to treat cases of malaria (e.g. Coarthemeter - artemether and lumefantrine ) please get in touch as there no doubt about it, anti-malarials you provide will save lives.

  • Mosquito Nets (preferably impregnated with Permethrin)
  • Medicines - antimalarials, antibiotics of any kind but expecially doxycycline.
  • Dressings
  • Multi-vitamins, iron tablets etc
  • Small torches
  • Toothbrushes
  • Deet mosquito repellant
  • Mosquito coils (slow burning, not electric as few homes have electricity)
  • Musical Instruments - lightweight (I have to put them in my suitcase). Descant/Treble recorders that you no longer need are the ideal instrument as they are a fully functioning instrument to learn on with the bonus that I can put a number in my bag. The odd violin, clarinet, flute etc or even a guitar might also be of use.
  • Laptops/Netbooks - They don't have to be new but should be in good working order. It is not essential to have a working battery but it will be helpful if the battery does work as power cuts are frequent.
  • Solar Panel installation sponsorship - this would enable communities not connected to the power grid to have light after dark, be able to recharge mobile phones, torches.....
  • Religious items - kosher tephillin, mezuzot etc. Different communities will have different needs. Finding these out will be part of my next trip in March 2011.
  • If you wish to sponsor a child through school or a student through university then you will be contributing to the future prosperity of the community. Less than £1,000 a year will see a child through school, and £3,000 a year for a student to go to university. There are many young people who have passed all their exams yet had to drop out of university because of funding problems. If you sponsor a named child through school/university then you will be given their details and regular updates as well as the details of how your money is spent. If you wish to sponsor anyone mentioned on this blog then feel free to contact me. 
If you don't have money to contribute, then maybe you have time to spare and a skill instead?
  • Do you speak Hebrew or French? Do you have skills in IT or music? Maybe you can teach guitar, recorder or keyboard? If you can provide the lessons i'll provide the instrument(s). 
  • Are you medically trained, a nurse or a doctor? You could train up first responders in basic life saving skills. Maybe you have another skill that you think might be useful. 
  • You will need to commit yourself to a minimum of one month and finance yourself whilst volunteering, Costs will be minimal but accomodation will be basic.

    Sunday, 1 January 2012


    The abayudaya are very musical. They have many of their own melodies that they sing during the course of the service in synagogue. There is little harmonisation but the songs are sung with feeling and a sense of rhythm and musicality. Many of their songs are sung in Luganda language.

    Culturally rich as the abayuday music is, I feel that it would be nice if abayudaya children would have the opportunity to learn western music. I have played instruments for much of my life and hope abayudaya kids will similarly be able to experience the enjoyment I have had from playing music. Apart from the sheer pleasure there is evidence that learning to play an instrument provides a whole range of skills, social, educational and cognitive.

    There were no instruments available for general use of the children although I saw a few well used instruments in one community member's house. There is no teacher of music in the abayudaya community.

    I took some recorders along with me when I visited the community in November as these really are a most efficient way of getting to grips with western music. 

    I was unable to teach any of the school children as they had just broken up for their long holidays. But whilst I was playing for msyelf Samson and his friend expressed interest in learning.  In the space of a few days they had mastered almost the whole of the first octave, and even started on the second. They might have a natural sense of rhythm, but they found it hard going learning to read from manuscript. This was after all a crash course! I had less than a week to teach them the rudiments of music and playing the recorder before I had to leave. I was just amazed at how seriously they took to their new instrument and how much we accomplished.

    I left exercises, music and a few instruments behind for Samson and friends to practise. Samson is going to pass on his new skills to those who were unable to join in, in time for my next visit.

    This really is not the best way to go about introducing young people to music, but it will have to do for the moment. I'll be back with more instruments and be able to teach for another week soon. The ideal solution would be to have a teacher visit the community on a regular basis to give lessons. If you are interested in sponsoring a music teacher for the abayudaya then please contact me via the email at the top of the page.