Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Off we go again

Hello everyone and apologies for the long absence. We've had rather a lot on, as you are about to find out.

We are leaving Uganda on 21st Dec, as in 'leaving leaving' not 'Christmas holidays leaving'. We took the decision about, i dunno, six weeks ago. Why? Well, the long version is a bit complicated and more nuanced than what follows, but here is the short version.

1) My job. It was fun and most of the time I enjoyed it, but it became pretty obvious that I wasn't really making the business any money. Product development mainly involves telling suppliers "do it like this, not like that...and please can I have the perfect, finished article by next week?" Then you wait for them to deliver. Then you start the nagging phone-calls. Three weeks go past: nothing. Someone gets malaria, has to go to the village, or it's raining. Then you get the pillows/bunting/macrame dolls and it's still wrong and you have to send it back. Repeat ten times. Now, this is Africa, and things do happen a lot slower round here. Given how difficult it has been to get crafts into the shops quick enough, it was hard for my bosses to justify my full-time position.

I was offered part-time, but as the main breadwinner, we couldn't really live on the money. And in my heart of hearts, I was missing my girls a lot. I think Emma and Gloria didn't mind that much that I wasn't around, but I've really missed baby K and I like to think she has a soft spot for me too. I've also gained a new appreciation of how productive mothering is. Boiling up carrots and smearing them on my toddler's face feels like a better use of my time than waiting idly for craft paper from Kenya and feeling guilty for being paid for it.

R liked his job in the cocoa business, but realised he much preferred emergency response. But it wasn't just about the jobs. I think we found living in Uganda much tougher going second-time round. The electricity saga, a gruelling school-run over terrible roads, the riots when we just arrived back. Our friends witnessing a man being beaten and then burnt to death in a horrific case of mob justice, not one mile from where we live. A lot of frustration and sadness over a great country badly managed.

We also had something of a nagging conviction that we had moved back for the wrong reasons: the nice climate, the great school, the interesting work opportunities. All very convenient, but even three months ago we felt torn and lacking in passion and purpose for being back.

So where too now? Well, we have been exploring various options. R applied for and got a job in a country which does tick our passion and purpose boxes. (Its government is rather touchy, so that's why I'm being coy about saying exactly where.) But we all wanted to be sure it was the right thing, so he flew half way round the world intending to visit it only to have his visa for said country denied. At least he got to explore the airport for 8 hours, and he brought me back a tasty seaweed snack. Yesterday he had an interview for another job in....Teddington! I can't deny that a large part of me would LOVE to be home. We could buy a big house and stay there for forty years and never go on an aeroplane ever, ever again. But stop me before I count my many chickens before they are hatched.

Operation Pack Up N Leave is going well so far. (Another reason why I haven't posted for ages.) We have sold our car, lots of paintings, got new jobs for our staff, had parties. According to BBC Weather it will be snowing in Portsmouth on Saturday! Can I get woolly coats in Owino market?
So there we have it. Leaving on a jet plane with no job and nowhere to live. But we are happy and are sure it's the right decision. Here's a picture of our darling Emma, going out with a bang in her Christmas play, Hosanna Rock!