Uganda in Verse

First published 2nd November 2013

17 people travelled to Uganda with a group from Bristol West Deanery in October 2013. It was a wonderful, life transforming visit, and Clare Jefferis one of the party was inspired to put pen to paper to compose this moving reflection on her trip.

Uganda by Clare Jefferis

The e-mail out of office auto reply simply stated Off to Uganda. Back 28th October:

1. Travelling

A bus and the airport

Movement and noise

Necessary tedium.

Tickets, passports, baggage, customs

Joining queues

Remove shoes

Assume the position


Cleared to…


Meet the group; try to remember names match them to faces

Announcements on screens to many places.

Wait, gate, queue, wait, ticket, board, wait, sit,


Off we finally fly

The flight? Too dull

You know how it is:

Your body is stiff

Your mind full of excitement

Yet mindful of the foreign unknown.

Tough for a control freak

To find herself in someone elses hands for two weeks.


2. Moving on…


Stand, stretch

Shuffle, shuffle to the terminal building

(Odd word, terminal, for the start of a journey

I think).


Follow queue, shuffle, shuffle.

Luggage (numerous)

Counted and accounted for

Outside (finally)

Hot. Red. Busy.

Three vans

(And three drivers)

And luggage

And luggage

And wait, load, wait, choose seat and seat mate, sit, buckle


Off we finally drive.


3. On the road

Not uncomfortable, these vans

Shes dependant on the drivers though

Tough for a control freak, perhaps shell relax into the ride

Enjoy even

Although unsure of everything.

Perhaps not


Confidence low

Suspension lower




Chat to the group

Try to remember names match them to unfamiliar faces

As unfamiliar places whirr past windows

Red dust

Wooden buildings

And people

And people

And the traffic

Is terrific; innumerable yet organised


Not by any highway code she knows.

The drivers are in control now

And she is relieved? resigned?

Can she relax into the responsibility of others?

The journey begins.


4. Impressions

Lists of adjectives (see appendices)

Senses at full alert, alliteration abounds


Purposeful, peaceful, poor, patient, parenting communally

Solid community

Who see their future




A welcome relief.

Farms burgeoning, diversifying

Subsistence necessary - cultivation improving

Small scale growth -




Proud of their small changes

Thatched huts with conical roof, walls round

Neighbours close

Family valued

Communities abound

Gardens surround them

Subsistence necessary cultivation improving.

Am I repeating myself?

Apologies it needs to be stated

Must not be underrated

The people do not need aid to achieve their future.


5. Belief

Is assumed

In this country classed as poor

Yet is faith rich

There is more worship and praise here

A joy to share

A need to express

A need to explore in song and movement.

The beat a steady rhythm

Of drums

And claves

And claps

And shakers

That make her join in

Albeit unwillingly; unsure at first.

Tough for a control freak

To let herself go loosen up, just a bit.

Easier in unfamiliar surroundings

No-one in judgement.

Perhaps shell try.

Not so difficult to put herself in someone elses hands.

But it is hard to let go

Tough for a control freak to accept someone will carry her.


6. Welcome

Vans dusty

Passengers weary

(Must try to remember names match them to faces)

Changing places,

Sharing personal histories

Creating a joint memory.

Group dynamics developing, evolving.





Road ahead blocked.


No, a sea of faces singing and waving

Banana smiles.

The beat a steady rhythm of whistles and flags

Joyful; thankful for us

Praising our safe arrival

Answered prayer.

Hands grasped, exchange of welcomes

(This could take some time).

Singing continuous, seeming ubiquitous.

She joins in

Clapping; moving surreptitiously

The welcome infectious

United in joy.


Universal themes:

Love and welcome

Joy and thankfulness.

Gratitude for small things -

For all things -

In this country classed as poor

Yet is faith rich.

There is more welcome

From men dressed in yellow

And ladies in yellow

With babies in arms

Twins in prison, yet the positive unity

Is profoundly affecting.

The sense of community,


Continuity of belief, of bonds.

How can she respond?

The control freak has more to give than she thought

Now she knows that someone will carry her.

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