When you’re in your sixties and just had a hip replacement and various health ‘weaknesses’ not that long ago, how would you spend five weeks’ time just before Christmas?
My legendary mother-in-law chose to go to rural villages in Uganda, visiting elderly people in mud huts with bags of groceries, medical equipment, water tanks, as well as hugs, kind words and spending time with them.
She was not there on her own. She was there with a team, a few from the UK as she is, and many more locally. ROTOM is a charity that looks after elderly people (called jajjas, which means ‘grandparents’) in Uganda. The headquarters is outside Kampala (see maps below).
My mother-in-law is part of ROTOM UK. ROTOM UK ‘adopted’ a village called Namuganga and supports jajjas in many ways. They build simple but solid houses and latrines for the jajjas, they gather all jajjas every fortnight for a fellowship meeting and a nutritious meal, and they visit them regularly and take them to the medical centre if necessary.
A house built by ROTOM (left); The hut a jajja lived in beforehand (right top); New latrine (right bottom).
Fortnightly fellowship (left) and the meal (right).
Mum visiting a ROTOM school doing a Nativity (left); ROTOM medical staff provide healthcare in the local village (right).
The team have just done a project of purchasing nineteen 1000-litre water tanks and installing them outside jajja’s houses so they have clean water to drink, cook and wash with, without having to carry jerry cans from often polluted streams and water sources miles away.
A grandchild getting water (left); New 1000-litre water tanks (right top); You can see the water tank installed in front of the house (right bottom).
ROTOM also has a Champion Programme to provide the young people from the villages with further education. 120 young people are receiving college or vocational training as I write. Many graduates from the Programme have come back to work in the villages to look after their jajjas and younger siblings and a few are working for ROTOM themselves to help the local elderly.
So many lives have been touched. I’m so proud of her and her work! But so much more work needs to be done for these jajjas who have so little but, quoting my mother-in-law, “to say they are an inspiration is a massive understatement”!
Photos from mum’s camera and ROTOM Facebook page