Uganda – the land of the red soil and lush green pastures. What an intense but great trip. I was out in the field for 4 days, doing site visits, meeting with all sorts of people and having meetings with the organization that funds our programmes. The last two days were spent training programme officers and teachers on how to write good texts. I was not sure how people were going to react, as some parts that I had planned felt perhaps too basic to me. But I learned that all was appreciated, even the basic stuff. I guess sometimes what we think is ‘known,’ is really not to others. The people in general, that I met along the way, were wonderful. Beautiful. I have never felt a connection to the country before this trip. A few specific moments made my eyes watery. I guess Uganda is my third home. My mother’s home.
The Shoe Project continued in Uganda (read more on this at the end of this blog). Many people were happy. As in Kenya, as we drove to different areas and noticed people without shoes, we stopped to ask people why they were not wearing any. This lead us to determine whether or not someone needed a pair. One woman danced after putting hers on. She got down on her knees and prayed. I did not feel comfortable with the women going down on their knees. We had some confused people too. Why were we asking them where their shoes were? What did we want in return? We encountered an angry man today. We did not give him shoes because he had a pair. He followed us to our next stop, where we met 3 women and a man without any. He told us if we did not give him a pair, he would call the police! Then we had a blind man asking us for a spare pair. Something interesting to note – in Kenya there were equal amounts of men and women that did not have shoes. In Uganda, 9 in 10 men had shoes, while 2 in 10 women did. Research project?? We went through Lira this time to get back to Kampala, rather than using Soroti. It still took about 8 hours! But that is because we stopped to talk to people and distributed shoes. But really, the driver just could not multi task. He could not talk and drive at the same time! I finally made it to the hotel at 10pm and I got my first, proper, hot shower in days!
There is a young woman that i have been training, etc. for the past 4 days, and it was not until our drive back to Kampala that I learned more about her. she was an orphan. her parents both passed away when she was young. she has a younger brother too, who is still in the orphanage. she left the place when she was 23, when she found someone to sponsor her to go to college. after college, she joined a young professionals development programme and soon after that, she was hired by one of our programmes. she found out a couple of years ago, that she is HIV positive, but shedoes not want to take meds, as she thinks that will make her feel like she is sick. how do i get this woman to understand that taking the meds is a good thing for her? she also seems to believe that there is a cure for AIDS. gees, i went through this with the kids at the academy in Nairobi, after they watched the news, where a woman said she went to the villages and was cured. and our driver indicated to her that there is some german organization who thinks that they have found the cure! she has written her life story. i cannot wait to read it.
I felt a bit panicky in the late afternoon. I realized that there is still so much that I want to do, and half my life is over!
I am in Kampala for 2 more days before I head back to Geneva.
Oranges being sold on the side of the road.
wanted to sleep in. and could not. have the whole sunday off today, so i decided to go buy more shoes for the shoe project and leave it here with my people, so that they can distribute. went to bata, as it was around the corner. 20 minutes later, they still could no sort out the shoes that i wanted and honestly, it was only 20 pairs. so i left, asking them to coordinate amongst themselves so that when i come back in the evening, they are all there without any issues. the man that makes the carrot juice at nakumatt told me to come back in 15 mins as it was not ready. of course, when i got back he realized he forgot about me, and they only have one blender, which was being used to make tropical juices. i decided to unwind at the serena. imagine, i think it is the only serena i have been to that charges an additional 50 percent on top of the spa prices if you are not staying there. and to use the internet for an hour you must pay, even if you are going to eat lunch there, etc. i was pretty annoyed and of course, me being me, just decided to up and leave at the ridiculousness of the whole situation. i guess i just woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. i did decide to leave the kindle aside and buy a real book, so that will get me through the rest of the day. i have seen a lot more mzungu women here who seem to have adopted black babies than i used to see in kenya. just an observation. i finally bought the photography book, ‘kampala’, which i first saw when i came here in 2006 and did not see again during my last visit.