Den_breejen_2011 Posted by Aart and Geesje den Breejen on Wed, 05 Dec 2012 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

In Arua, visitors and fish both smell after three days.

If they both smelt the same way, we would have 2012 as the year of “big stink” here in Arua. Visitors came in larger and smaller groups and they certainly stayed longer than 3 days. But rather than creating anything pungent, each group left a very pleasant fragrance behind.

My (Geesje’s) three sisters have just left after a brief ten-day stay – it was great. They came after the men folk had left and it was special to experience sisterhood among siblings as well as the wider experience of being together with our Ugandan sisters.

But before them, our first group of visitors came for two weeks; nine men from Giessen Oudekerk, our home church in the Netherlands. We knew some of the men, and got to know others. It was truly good to be a body of Christ where all parts are different but needed and are at their best when they work together. Working together is what these guys did, alongside the Vocational Training Centre (VTC) students and staff members. This first group built a market lane on the main road, just on the edge of the school compound. So it might become a fish market (which would not be unfamiliar to me, Aart, since my father was a fish monger).

The aim is to provide a sheltered space for people to sell their goods. The brief history of the idea is that initially we thought of building a wall to block out some of the noise coming from the ‘trading centre’ as it is called here in Uganda. This was especially important because the school’s guesthouse is close to the trading centre and we want to provide a nice place for our guests when they come, bad sleep surely can make them smell! But a wall is a costly thing to build for just being a perimeter wall.

Later the thought developed of making a roof on it towards the road side so that it would be a place for the local people to sell things and an income generating activity for the school. An interesting note is that it’s on diocesan grounds and our school is also Christian, so there are a few rules and regulations and being the commercial manager of the school, I (Aart) was the one who was setting them. Being proper Dutch reformed I thought of challenging the people by asking them not to do business on Sundays, but my local friends and colleagues told me they would not be able to accept this. So it has become a half day sales ban and the other half is voluntary. We’ll see.

My little joke about being Dutch reformed by background is that we are allowed to smoke and drink but we don’t go to the movies and don’t dance. The funny thing is that for an Ugandan Anglican is probably the absolute opposite. Maybe the Irish can be the judge of the ‘right’ culture? Or maybe they just do it all?

Soon after the market builders left, (I should not forget the guys among them who helped build a 2.5 ton car trailer) we received a team of four men, again for two weeks, who did (re-) wiring of the garage and the carpentry workshop. So the carpentry workshop is in full use now. Some of the big machines were ones I had used myself in the Netherlands before we bought them for the school. It was a joy to hear the big planes, 24-inch thicknesser and 20-inch surface plane, starting up and hearing the familiar hum of them (well…close by, you’ll need some ear protection). Also the generator is wired with an automatic switch-over, safety switches are installed and there is 3-fase power protection (necessary here if you want your pc’s and machines to stay healthy).

The local people were really amazed by the speed of work. Of course this was partly possible because of preparations. The space here is too short to explain all the dynamics involved here, I would say the only way to get a glimpse of how and why things are here the way they are in terms of daily work is only to come and do it yourself. That’s something the visitors surely told me.

“We will not be able to transfer this experience to the people at home, it is all so different.”

We certainly see it as part of our role here to facilitate these kind of experiences and we hope we will receive some of you sometime in the future. Our kids are now especially looking forward to meet their granny and some old friends here in Arua over the Christmas holidays. Have a blessed time too!

Aart, Geesje, Anne Fleur, Ruben, Jan Lucas and Lisa den Breejen

Aart and Geesje den Breejen

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