Since our last update we have a lot to tell but as you can all imagine we rarely get internet connection and when we do we also have to use the few minutes we have to inform our families and friends that we’re doing fine.
We’ve been moving quite a lot since our last update, Masaka, Nakkusi, Entebbe, Kampala and Kasese (Queen Elizabeth National Park).
Boarding Schools: when we were in Kampala we went to visit one of the daughters of our host parents called Divina. She studies in Namugambo Senior Secondary School (which is considered one of the best schools in Uganda). We went on a Sunday without realizing that there were specific visiting hours. However we had travelled a long way to get there and after talking to various staff members we were able to enter the school to visit Divina. While taking to her she told us about her weekly routine and how they study 7 days a week, all students are in boarding school and the strict schedule they have. Some days they have to wake up at 5am to wash their cloths. The facilities they had where many (swimming pool, football fields, library, laboratory, staff offices, telephones etc.) One would think that is what a school should have but here in Uganda very few schools enjoy these facilities. The cost of having a student in an outstanding school is almost of 300 euros per term which only the wealthier families can afford. The previous week we attended the Silver Jubilee of a well reputed Catholic Senior Secondary School in Masaka where the vice-president of Uganda attended in representation of the Government of Uganda. The event lasted almost the entire day. Mass, speeches, dances, lunch and entertainment was part of the program. We mainly enjoyed the typical dances because the rest of the speeches where in Luganda.
Transport & Infrastructure: First of all I have to talk about transport in Uganda. As we’ve been moving around quite a lot. We have been able to live and see how the transport in Uganda works. Buses don’t have an established schedule and no bus is direct. The aim is to maximize their profit so you will rarely sit in an empty bus. If the capacity of the bus is 15 seats you may find 20 passengers squeezed in the bus apart from the luggage that passengers carry which can sometimes be an a hence or baby birds. Our bus ride from Kampala to Entebbe which is around 30-40km took us 1h20min because the bus would stop every 20 meters to pick up and drop off passengers. Roads are normally full of bumps and holes so very few smooth journeys can be guaranteed. In Nakkusi where roads are just paths in the middle of the valley and we move mainly by foot or boda-boda (motor-bike) where up to 4 passengers could fit. We laughed a lot with Sylvia because I told her I knew how to ride motor-bikes so she hired one but I didn’t expect to drive a motor-bike carrying 3 people and in Nakkusi with bumpy roads. Luckly we had a driver because if not we would have visited a hospital instead of 5 schools.
Polan Polan, African Time: after experiencing that nothing occurs at the time that it was planned we realized that here things work “Polan-Polan” (slowly). It’s something that also annoys local people but I guess they are more used to it. Most of the things normally occur 1h or even 3h after the planned time so you have to be equipped with patience to carry out each task or activity.
Kampala: The chaotic city where you can get a good shot of adrenaline. While crossing the city in Boda-boda (motor-bike) you can almost think that you’re going to have an accident. Never had we seen such concentration of vehicles and pedestrians in a road all moving in different directions. During our first night in Kampala we had some crazy motor-bike drivers who didn’t even stop at the few red lights that the city has.
“Ambiance” in Masaka: Africans are born with rhythm. Thanks to our Ugandan brother “Marvin” (who is now in Burkina Faso) we were able to see how Africans dance. Rhythm is in their body and singing is also a way of expressing their feelings. In every school that we have visited we have been welcomed with songs and dances. We also live with 4 little girls (Siena,Caroline, Shidu and Leticia) who show us their skills. Caroline with only 2 years old is almost a professional dancer and baby Siena (almost 1 year old) is now showing us her first moves.
Bananas Paradise: Ugandans have millions of ways of cooking green bananas. Just by looking at the landscape you can see the amount of banana trees making green bananas the main dish. Not surprisingly we have been able to eat bananas cooked in many different ways.
Uganda Wildlife: Uganda is extremely fortunate to have a wildlife that is extremely varied. Although we weren’t able to see the famous Gorillas we were lucky to see many others wild animals like Leopards, Lions, Buffalos, Elephants. The most amazing experience was to camp, in the middle of the park where we heard all types of animals. That night two staff members from the National Park kindly invited us for dinner and thanks to our long chat we were able to learn much more about all the animals in Uganda and other interesting facts that we hope to share in our report.
We are now heading to Nakusi to spend our last 12 days visiting more schools, planting trees in the new land that KYEMPAPU has bought, helping Sylvia to prepare an environmental training headed by CEOD and writing our report on the current situation in the district of Bukomansimbi (Kirinda).