I remember riding in the car in mid-December during our adoption and seeing people everywhere walking along the streets with chicken legs clutched in their hands and a live chicken dangling and swinging with the rhythm of their walk. The wealthier people could afford to drape a live turkey around their neck as they took it home. Chickens were tied to the handle bars of boda drivers (motorcycle taxis). Cages on the streets were stacked as high as a stop sign with dirty white scrawny birds stuffed in tight. Beautifully dressed women in colorful long dresses sped by side saddle on motorcycles with a chicken in their lap.
Back then, my family wanted to do a chicken slaughter for our dinner. That was quite an event. Our Ugandan friends debated for a long time about where to go for the best chickens, the ones that were plump and moist and tasted good. We bought them a few days before the intended meal and let them wander free on the property and get fat. Every time I looked at the poor things I thought of the countdown to their heads being sliced off. I think I gave up meat for a long time because of the emotional trauma I experienced photographing the slaughter.
But this is the way chicken is bought for dinner in Uganda. Unless you buy it roasted or skewered on the streets, and we don’t do that. Our American stomachs can’t endure street food so we always passed. But our Ugandan friends frequently stopped on the street where venders would approach the windows, and they bought skewers of seasoned chicken to take home to the children where they lived.
Last week Robert purchased a large cage for our home, and then bought twenty chickens for the Christmas dinner. During the day the chickens are free to roam and eat the scraps from the cooking, and at night they are safely kept locked up in their cages. This is great fun for the children. We are thinking it would save money to purchase young little chicks and let them grow up at home and then dinner is always roaming in the yard. I am happy to report that the garden is yielding such bountiful crops that they are able to sell some at Phiona’s mom’s stand and purchase meat with the return.
To see a glimmer of self sustainability begin to occur with this ministry is answered prayer. We are going to expand our garden and grow more crops. There is a partnering organization that has committed to raising the funds to help us build a piggery! If we can begin with six pigs and they each have two litters of eight piglets a year we could sell pork and earn the money that will go back to the organization’s costs. I hope you will visit www.worldaidnow.org and consider donating to this excellent project that will have a long term effect on our Kirabo Seeds family.
I know the children in Uganda are getting excited about Christmas coming as they watch their chickens grow bigger and plumper by the day. They aren’t thinking about a fat man in a red suit visiting them with all their wishes to come true. They aren’t thinking about presents at all. They anticipate dressing up in a brand new outfit and going to church. They are thinking about how wonderful it will be to grasp the legs of one of those chickens and carry it to their jjajja’s as a gift for Christmas. It is rare for families to be able to afford meat in their diet so a chicken for Christmas dinner is a wonderful gift.
Next year the LaTorre family is planning to spend our Christmas in Uganda. We are considering celebrating exactly as the Ugandans do it. I wonder if we could experiment with the idea that Christmas isn’t about the gifts. What if we all wear brand new clothes, go to church, eat chicken with the family, sing songs, dance and laugh together after a delicious home grown meal. There is much in me that is longing for this sort of simplicity at Christmas.