Welcome to our blog for the 2017 Uganda trip. We’ll aim to post updates most days of our trip written from the perspective of each of the trip participants. This is Lisa (Kain Foundation Commercial Manager) writing for Day 0 as I arrived Saturday afternoon. The rest of our team is: Nick, Michael, Madelaine, Scott, Sharon and Evan representing Blue Sky Alternative Investments, Kain Lawyers, Halpin Financial Services, and Salisbury High School.
I departed a wet and cold Adelaide on Friday evening after a great send-off for the from the Kain Lawyers’ team complete with Ugandan videos, African themed-food, and plenty of departing gifts (think Gastrostop and hand sanitizers). Twelve hours later, arriving at 5am in 35 degree, smoggy Dubai airport was a bit of a shock to the system. Boarding the second flight to Entebbe a few hours later, I started to get a sense of the friendly welcome I’d soon receive when reaching Uganda. The plane was packed. It was closer to 40 degrees when we boarded via outdoor jet bridge, and only after a 30 min bus ride from the gate – Dubai is one HUGE airport. Yet everyone was happy, greeting one another, families flying together with young kids who were all in good spirits. I’d been reading Nikki Lovell’s memoir from her time volunteering in Uganda, We Are One Village – highly recommended. The Ugandan man sitting next to me whom I chatted with briefly at the start of the flight, was reading over my shoulder for several chapters and I could tell he was quite interested in the book. So, we struck up more of a conversation and he told me about his village in Kigezi in South Western Uganda, known as the “Switzerland of Uganda”. By the end of the flight, we’d exchanged business cards and he’d invited me to come visit his family home.
Finally I’d arrived in Uganda. After nearly 24 hours of travel, it was a test of my patience and equanimity to make it through the hot and crowded hour long queue for immigration/visa processing, and that’s even with having my visa pre-approved online. The lovely Angel from Adventure Expeditions, and our new driver, David were waiting for me and we managed to take care of most of our tasks and still get to the Adonai Guesthouse – our home base for the next 12 days – with plenty of time to freshen up before dinner. David’s skill as a driver was on full display as he weaved in and out of a busy Saturday evening traffic, dodging buses, motorbikes, and pedestrians who seemed to have a death wish when crossing in the middle of speeding cars. I think the biggest “pinch me” moment was withdrawing $2,000,000 from an ATM (about $500AUD) to take care of our group expenses for the week.
Angel, David and Mathias had a nice dinner at Cafe Java. Mathias is the project manager of our Jr. Landcare project whom I’d been speaking with over Skype and email for nearly a year, so it was wonderful to finally get to meet him in person. He was full of good news about the progress of Jr. Landcare: stories of how much the kids are enjoying learning skills such as planting and caring for tree seedlings, and how confident he is that these skills will enable these children to attain much better lives than if they had continued along the same lines as their parents as subsistence farmers. I initially didn’t get his point, but we drilled down and he explained how most rural Ugandan families live on what they grow on their small plots of land, which usually isn’t enough variety or quantity to meet the families’ needs. By learning agricultural skills through Jr. Landcare, the children participating in this program are developing marketable skills which they can leverage to become commercial farmers and to build businesses. After this conversation, I really got the flow-on effect this could have for the full community. Great stuff!
Here’s a picture from the Jr. Landcare Project’s most recent quarterly report this is the Kaboyo Primary Students planting tree seedlings.
That’s all from me for now, time to get the day started and head back to Entebbe to pick-up the rest of the crew. I’ve been chatting with then on What’sApp and know they’ve made it as far as Dubai, so I’m looking forward to giving them my version of the friendly Ugandan greeting – You are so welcome! – in a few hours.