Posted by: zdy1 | 8 March, 2009

I’ve made it to Mbarara!

Well at last I have reached Mbarara, it is good to eventually see the rough location where I will be living and to start to meet some people who I will be working with.

Mbarara is a medium sized town by UK standards although big in Ugandan standards and rumours have it that it will be upgraded to “city” status within the next year. The main high street through the town is busy but you can quickly get out to the backwaters of the town where there are dirt roads and plenty of banana trees! Mbarara is in a hilly area and while there aren’t “proper hills”, it does mean that there are frequent good views which makes me happy!

I spent a week with a Ugandan family just outside Mbarara, the living was basic but still better than what I had when I lived in Kenya – there was some electricity and even couches!! They were a lovely family who made me feel very welcome and were quite happy to start teaching me the basics of Runyankole, the language of the area. I was properly introduced to the Ugandan fare. Same every lunch and dinner so feel very familiar with it now! Matoke (savoury bananas) steamed in Banana leaves is the main staple. May sound good but needs tasting before a full verdict is made!! The other common items were rice, irish potatos, beans, g-nut (peanut) sauce and meat stew. It was actually very edible but I faced the same problem as I remember from Kenya – I could never eat enough to satisfy my hosts. My stomach is just not that big!

Generous, the Maama of the family I was living with worked at a disabled childrens centre nearby, so I spent several days there. It was a fantastic place and one I expect to build links with once I start work as a physiotherapist. I spent most the time observing the OTs and OT students who was working there. They were doing a great job although I was rather amused on the afternoon when I joined in with a session to be taught basket weaving!! (As my OT friends will probably tell you this is one of the frequently used stereotypes of OT that isn’t the most appreciated!)

Will write more soon as I get my head round where I am. Here are a couple of photos for the meantime!

This is where I stayed for my homestay!

This is where I stayed for my homestay!

Matoke being cooked

Matoke being cooked

Me and My homestay Maama Generous (We were on our way to a wedding!)

Me and my homestay Maama

My homestay - view from the door

My homestay - view from the door



  1. Hi Zillah,
    Great to hear that you’ve arrived in Mbarara, and that your home-stay went well. Interesting (and evocative!) pictures – Rosemary says the Matoke pot reminded her of West Nile, although the staple there was generally (bird seed!) or maize.
    Are you expecting to start at the hospital immediately, or will you have some preotected time for language study?

  2. Thanks I&R!
    Not starting at the hospital for probably a few weeks to give me time to get the basics of the language. However I am hoping to meet with the relevant people at the University/Hospital in the next couple of weeks to hopefully get an idea of what their current expectations of me are!
    Enjoying language study – I’ll write a bit more about that in a day or so!
    Z x
    p.s. bird seed??!!

  3. Welcome to your new home Z. I’m looking forward to hearing about your language learning experiences. Did you get onto the language impact website. Greg Thompson’s stuff is amazing – probably the best language learning resources available anywhere on the planet.

  4. Millet = a cereal crop grown & eaten in East Africa – makes a dark brown “porridge”.
    In UK its generally sold in pet shops as a food for budgies 🙂

  5. Ah yes know it well – had it twice today. With sugar it is actually alright. Without…. now you have said it ‘molten budgie food’ is a good description!

    (Eddie – yes been using language impact website lots! – thanks for the advice!)

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