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Touching Base.


Sam and Sarah were the first few friends I got to know when I was arrived. They became my mentors. Life in a new country would be tough without them.

Sam is a successful businessman while Sarah ran a butchery shop next to mine. My early days in Uganda, they I used to invited over for dinner for they knew I was there alone. Sam was a very patient guy and he would share with me Uganda's culture, the past, present and his vision of the future of Uganda. It was inspiring.

There was this story that he shared made me see another side of the negative impact on development. Sometimes development might neglect some simple things in life which are important.

In the village where he came, there were development work going on and the development workers were supposed to dig a borehole so that the village is able to get underground water at a more convenient location.

Usually the womenfolks would have to travel about 3 hrs to the nearest water source to collect water and 3 hrs back once every week. This will take up nearly the whole day. The development workers thought they were doing something good for the village.

After sometime, they realised that the womenfolks did not use the borehole which was only 6 metres from their home but instead continued with their normal routine of spending 6 hrs thru and fro from the water source. It took them quite sometime to understand why because of language barrier.

Finally they understood why when one of the lady development worker followed the womenfolks to the water source. The borehole that the development worker did would had taken away something from these womenfolks. The space needed amongst the women to interact among themselves.

During the 6 hrs journey, these women would then have time to chat, to discuss and to get a chance to share girls talks, Another important aspect was to have a break, away from the everyday toiling in the fields. The truth was that most of the time, women were the ones working in the field. The men will either go to town to drink, sleep or just waiting for their spouse to attend to their sexual needs whenever they felt like having it.

This lesson was invaluable. As modernisation takes place, we gradually lost the human touch. It might look a small and minute issue, but these issues are true.

Living in Singapore tho peaceful, it is rather stressful. Most of the time, we do not even know our neighbours? Everyday is a rat race. Never a time we would stop to say hello.

I recalled in 2005, when Uganda held their General Election, there were riots from the opposition parties and most of the streets were not safe. Fighting and looting was taking place in many areas. During that period, I happened to be in the process of shifting house, moving out to the suburb because I could not afford the current rent. Out of concern, Sam and Sarah called me and advised me not to make that move until the situation gets better. I told them I had no choice because the landlord had already given me the dateline. At that instance, Sam offered to pay for another month rent for me and made me stay on so that at least I will be safe until the riot is over. Beautiful people!

Little Honey Man

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From the desk of Lesster Leow © 2017 for Little Honey Man

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