Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sponsoring Kids isn't just for the first world

I felt like I was at the circus this morning. A car rolled to a quick stop in front of my office door, spitting gravel and moaning, sagging under the load it was forced to bear. A single door opened, and like the circus clown car, a steady stream of people began to emerge and file into the office. A neverending stream really… how many people can you fit in a Corolla? Just as impossibly they all then sat onto a couch designed for three people, and waited expectantly.

These were the kids of a local village just a few kilometres from our centre. Musaazi Moses, pictured, is one of our Post S4 students who has finished a diploma in primary education and is a teacher at a nearby school. He, along with Kasibante Vicent (friend and co-worker in the community services office) are together sponsoring all of the kids you see here as best as they can. Not through a formal program,but out of their own pockets they work together to purchase food, clothes, books, pens and pencils, and other things as needed to help these kids out. I asked Vicent why he was compelled to do this, and he answered, “I was helped when I was younger, and I was in a better situation than these kids, so how could I not assist them as well?” Most of the kids you see here don’t even have a home, and are instead transient, shifting between relatives as their ability to care for the kids weans. Then off to the next bed.

Vicent is also a Post S4 graduate. I love seeing guys like him and Moses, hearing their attitudes towards life and seeing how much sponsorship has changed their lives, the very way they look at the world here. They have devoted themselves and the little they earn to helping others for what seems like every waking moment of every day. They were helped themselves, and now they are a success and are able to give back to others in need.

Really puts the commercials from back home into my head. “For only a dollar a day…” - “for just the price of a cup of coffee…” But how much more does “only one dollar a day” mean when you make four?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Happy Birthday Monica!

Step 1: Go rafting. Finish. Complain that you cannot move. Be hungry.

Step 2: Accompany Sean & Jamie for what is, in our opinion, the best food available in Uganda.

Step 3: Discover the restaurant is full of people and have the kitchen closed before eating anything substantial. Remember you ate there the night before and be ok with that.

Step 4: Enjoy drinks and cupcakes and huge fire-hazard birthday candles.

Step 5: Eat Chapatis in lieu of dinner in the greenlight district of Bujugali.


Happy Birthday Monica! Hope it was fun!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Drowning a thousand deaths on the river Nile

I learned my lesson in Dominican Republic by smashing various parts of myself on rocks and other blunt objects while rafting on our honeymoon, so I didn’t have too much of a desire to head out for 8 hours of rafting on the Nile. Luckily for Monica, Jamie is much cooler and braver than I, so she jumped at the chance. This, on Monica’s birthday, was the right choice, as they ended up getting the coolest guide, coolest boat, and having the best time possible. Monica was even treated to a front seat ride in light of the fact that it was her birthday. She sounded pretty nervous before heading out for the day but had no regrets when coming back. Pretty nice experience for a birthday... celebrate it in Uganda with a good friend and one of the best rivers in the world for rafting!

Happy 28th Monica :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tired of trash on your streets? Enjoy the idea of people being imprisoned for tossing plastic bags? Rwanda is for you!

We took Monica to Rwanda as a part of her trip. Really it was a great excuse to see the country as we had wanted to get in for awhile, so we were thankful Monica had made the plans to come and that she was so gung ho about seeing the place. So what can we say about Rwanda? Well the country is fantastic. Clean. Like… unbelievably clean. If you see Uganda and then see Rwanda back to back you just can’t believe your eyes. I swear there’s a clear demarcation from space, a great wall of trash piled up at the border where the sheer lack of it is enough to pop your eyes, and re-pop them on the way back across the border. The entire country apparently cleans up every morning and sweeps the streets. This is probably a pretty oppressive thing to live with daily, but it sure is nice for tourists.

We visited Kigali, the capital, which is in the centre of the country and were there from the border within 1.5 hours. Highlights for us included visiting the genocide memorial centre in Kigali, eating ice cream at the Bourbon Street Café, and visiting Hotel Rwanda. We only stayed one night, but it was enough and we had a good time. We were also able to meet up with a friend-of-a-friend living in Kigali who gave us a rundown of the city and helped us out. Thanks Linley :) Overall a great time, and if we get the chance we’ll someday head back to Rwanda and take in some of the rest of the country. Canadian citizens don’t have to pay for a VISA which is sweet!

Pics: Uganda in the morning mist, Kigali, Bourbon Street Café, The Memorial Centre torch (this place is unreal, and can’t be described… see it if you’re ever in East Africa), the most hilariously tiny and expensive room at Auberge le Caverne, Jamie and Sean in front of Hotel Rwanda

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Jamie shows us how to build a mud house with a smile

Watch, as Jamie shows us how to sling mud with a smile! In the end, a house stands built. This is the African way to build a house, and it was cool for us to be able to show Monica how construction works over here along with the team from the Timothy Centre and Shannon's family. Nice to be able to be a part of it ourselves too.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hunting chimps

Before we left QE park we stopped in at some gorge (forget the name) where you can see Chimpanzees on the cheap. Hire a guide, strap on your boots and hike down into the wilderness to mingle with the nasty stuff. Our guide was great and the experience was something else… as you descend into the valley, the air gets colder and the trees start thrashing and howling as the baboons go crazy (go ape….?) and warn the rest of the jungle of your arrival. Slop down to the cavern floor beside the river and there are fresh elephant tracks, your guide warns you to stop standing in the trail of red ants, and you begin moving through the forest tracking the chimps down. Hippos burp a warning and you can hear the jungle continually explode around you as you make your way further in. It’s pretty cool to be with an experienced guide as he points out where the chimps have been by spotting tracks in the mud, food on the ground, or piles of what’s left after the food (poop).

We hiked for 2.5 hours and saw everything in the jungle but chimps. On the way back out, hopes dashed, we waited for our guide to finish a cell phone conversation as we began rigging the raft for our journey back across the river when 10 chimps burst out of the bushes a few feet from where we were standing and started climbing the trees all around us. Jamie, Monica and I just froze. Our guide is off in the bushes somewhere talking on his cellphone and we’re face to face with a bunch of chimps who, as it turns out, are way freaking bigger than we thought. Nothing happened (… this blog is here right?) as they just ignored us and climbed the trees, but we were able to watch them do their thing for a good half hour.

Our guide then robbed us blind with a smile on his face, but it was still worth it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Safari in Uganda, with a boatride on the side

Next up for our trip with Monica was a safari in Uganda. We made the trip to Queen Elizabeth national park (which was something like 6 hours or so) and got ourselves set up in Bush Lodge where we had these sweet stilted canvas tents. The tents even had power, which was awesome, especially compared to places like Bushara island which have similar accommodations without the light.

Fun times were had, animals were seen, hippos marauded between our tents at night, and no one fell in the water on the boatride, which was excellent given the territorial hippo that gave chase when we got too close.

If you’re ever visiting Uganda, this is the park to go to. By far the best safari and overall experience we’ve had in the country. (We’ve also done Murchison Falls national park and Lake Mburu for safaris).

I think that Jamie and I can now officially call ourselves “safari’d out” which is a pretty cool thing.

And now… a bajillion pictures.