A Travellerspoint blog

HOT!

OK, I guess the dry season has officially begun. It's 11 pm and weather.com says it's currently 24 degrees in Kampala. The mid-day heat is stifling, though the breeze does help to make it just barely bearable. The strangest part is that the Ugandans haven't shed their sweaters and shawls with the recent rise in the mercury -- not sure how they don't just evaporate! My kids won't stop pestering me to take them to the pool and if I could do it with a clear conscience, I think we would be there everyday!! But alas! To state the overused cliche, "So much to do, so little time!"

I can't remember if I've talked about my little chips and salsa business which I started with intention of handing over to my two part-time house helpers when I return to Canada. Well, so far it is going very well and recently I was able to source local canning jars which had been a real roadblock on the salsa end of things. Now I just have to figure out how to build or buy a solar oven so that we can bake the chips without relying on my gas stove. My little kitchen just isn't large enough to accommodate both salsa AND chip-making. And if I want the project to be sustainable after I leave, we are going to have to make sure that production can continue with the limited resources available to my two helpers.

I've registered the kids in Heritage International School's enrichment program which is basically a fancy way of saying extra-curricular activities. The boys and Mara are doing soccer and I'm helping to coach Mara's team; there was no team for Brooke's age division so I agreed to let her enrol in Tae Kwan Doe. She loves it and looks so cute in her uniform. I've really gotta take a photo of her in it and post it here. Her "hiya"s are impressive! One day, she will be a force to be reckoned with :)

The girls have also joined the choir; their teacher seems really passionate about music and I'm excited that the girls have the chance to be a part of that intensity. Both of them always exit the music room with big grins after each practice.

The homeschool co-op begins next Friday and I will be teaching African Geography again this term. It's always a good excuse to get to the pool and gives the kids a chance to learn from some other "teachers".

Tomorrow is a national holiday -- NRM (President Museveni's political party) Day. Hmmm. Would that fly in Canada? I doubt it! Here's a news article I found online.

Denis Mukasa Mbidde, the Vice Chairperson of the Uganda Young Democrats told journalists at the party’s weekly press briefing in Kampala today that since Uganda adopted multi party politics, the NRM day is no longer a day for all Ugandans.

He says it is illegal and improper for the NRM government to use public funds to mark a day which is for one political party, the ruling NRM. Mbidde says the NRM day is not shared by any other political party, but the current NRM party.

He says the NRM day should be scarped from the list of public holidays in Uganda and instead left to the NRM to celebrate it as a party day using NRM party resources.

Mbidde says the government must urgently address this anomaly in order to avoid imposing the NRM day on Ugandans. He says the DP will challenge the constitutionality of the NRM day (usually referred to as Liberation day) as a public holiday in Uganda.

But NRM Spokesperson Mary Karoro Okurut says the NRM day or Liberation day is legal and was designated as a national public holiday for all Ugandans when the country was still under the movement system of government. She says changing to multi party politics does not mean the importance of the liberation day stopped.

Posted by BriteLite 11:59 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

Making Progress

The last couple of weeks have seen significant progress on the resource centre front. Kara and I have hired a nearly full-time centre co-ordinator named Susan who started this past Monday. She'll be working four days a week from 10-4, at least until the next school session starts in February. After that, she will likely be working longer days since we'll be launching the after-school programs which will run from 4:30 till 6. Betty, the Ntinda centre co-ordinator, paid our centre a visit on Tuesday and seemed really pleased with what she saw. On Wednesday, Susan did an orientation at the Ntinda centre and oversaw activities at the Kansanga centre the other days of the week. She is a really sweet person and her love for the kids is readily apparent. She's very excited about the centre and its mandate to improve the reading culture amongst Ugandan children and to facilitate student-let initiatives. I think her enthusiasm must be contagious; she's already recruited one volunteer to lead an after-school study group, a local teacher named, Benard. Another parent, who spent some time at the centre with her young son today, offered to head up a netball club, and our good friend, Monica, is very keen to start up a drumming and dance club. It seems we're well on our way to having a full schedule of after-school activities.

I was able to meet with the LC (local chairperson) today. She's the person responsible for pretty much everything that goes on in the district and holds quite a lot of clout. We discussed Niteo's work and exchanged contact information. I imagine we'll be in touch with her on a fairly regular basis. Apparently, there is a women's vocational group that meets every Sunday and she was quick to point out that if we had any training ideas (of which I do have a couple up my sleeve!), the women are ready and very eager to learn.

There is still a lot that needs to be done to spruce the place up before we hold our grand opening; however, slowly but surely the work is getting done. Today, the razor wire went up around the perimeter of the compound and Rinto was busy planting grass and shrubs. Despite, the messy yard, the kids were still keen to kick the football around. It's so rewarding to see the enjoyment all the kids are getting out of just the little we have put in place so far.

Working on the Wall

Working on the Wall


Rinto Plants Shrubs

Rinto Plants Shrubs


Playing Memory

Playing Memory


Saturday Morning Story-Time

Saturday Morning Story-Time

I took Rida, the caretaker's daughter, with me on a short walk through the neighbourhood, recruiting story-time listeners as we went. It wasn't long before we had a healthy-sized group and in the end, over 25 kids showed up at the centre. Little Jovanni, in the blue T-shirt, looks innocent enough but he tried to escape with a couple of toys hidden in his pockets. When he was found out, he just gave this mischievous little grin that seemed to say, "Well, it was worth a try, wasn't it?"

Feeling a Little Overwhelmed at First

Feeling a Little Overwhelmed at First

This little girl was bawling as her older sibling dragged her into the centre, but a few minutes with the toys and books and her tears were forgotten!

Football...Anytime, Anyplace

Football...Anytime, Anyplace

Frank, Mugabe, and Matthias don't seem to mind the less-than-ideal playing conditions. I love how Mara and Brooke have stationed themselves at the gate to let in visitors!

Posted by BriteLite 11:19 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

Traveling Light

I'm looking around my place and after six months, it's still looking pretty bare. On more than one occasion, the thought has crossed my mind to go out and buy some paintings for the walls, cushions for the sofa, knick knacks to spruce up the coffee table, etc. But then my practical side kicks in, and I realize that with only five months left to spend in Uganda, I'll just be packing up or giving away anything else I get from here on out. And that pragmatic thought always remind me of another journey I am on – life's journey, which really, when you stop to think about it, is very much like my trip to Uganda. I'll have been here in Kampala for nearly a year out of, what I hope will be, at least an 80ish-year lifetime. My 80ish-year lifetime, in turn, represents just a blip on the radar screen of eternity. So, I have to ask myself during times of this kind of reflection, what kind of extra baggage am I carrying? What's slowing me down? What's cluttering and complicating my existence? What kind of stuff – and how much of it – will I leave behind when I eventually depart this earth (because as we've all been told and must intuitively know, we can't take any of it with us)?

Posted by BriteLite 01:22 Comments (1)

A Sampling of Titles

I was reading through my journal/day-timer and came across some book titles I jotted down while at a children's book fair awhile back (pretty heavy reading!):

Deadly Habits
Who Killed Danny?
Freda Doesn't Get Pregnant
Sugar Mommy
Street Child, Beggar....Rose

Posted by BriteLite 10:59 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

A Wild Explore in the Woods

I started this entry last year (Dec.30th LOL) and am hoping to finally finish it tonight!

***********************************

Yesterday, the kids and I returned from a lovely four-day vacation which comprised two nights of camping at a guest farm in Fort Portal, several hours west of Kampala, and then one night in Lake Mburo National Park, home to Uganda's only wild population of zebras, eland and impalas.

As usual, it was a treat to escape the pollution and congestion of Kampala and it was especially nice to be in the company of two other families. I always feel a little less stressed when embarking on a road trip with my small brood when I am not the only adult responsible for our well-being! Our drive to Fort Portal got off to a good start; being both a Sunday and Boxing Day, the roads were eerily quiet and we made it out of Kampala in record time. We made it to our destination without incident, although my truck showed signs of overheating as we entered town (upon further investigation I found the radiator was completely empty and suspect a repair job is in order). The guest farm was just as beautiful as is looked in the online photos and after a long hot drive, we were all ready for the pool.

The guest farm is home to cows and goats and even a camel.
Lovely gardens line the drive up to the reception area at Kluges Guest Farm

Lovely gardens line the drive up to the reception area at Kluges Guest Farm


Tall trees on our nature walk

Tall trees on our nature walk


Tight squeeze

Tight squeeze


Massive banana trees...very jungle-like!!

Massive banana trees...very jungle-like!!


In amongst the papyrus

In amongst the papyrus


Scarecrows guard the crop! <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/Emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Scarecrows guard the crop! :)


Cuddling the goats

Cuddling the goats


Roasting real Jet Puffed marshmallows. We made s'mores!!

Roasting real Jet Puffed marshmallows. We made s'mores!!


Messy!

Messy!


Very messy!!

Very messy!!


Curious camel

Curious camel

The kids enjoyed spending time with the animals. We even got to watch the cows being milked. The second day, it poured rain but we managed to stay dry in the restaurant where our gang took over a large table and occupied ourselves playing card games, eating and visiting.

When it was time to pack up and head back to Kampala, there seemed to be a general consensus among us that it would be nice to extend our holiday and take the long-way home. So with little in the way of concrete plans, we headed south in the direction of Queen Elizabeth National Park where we got a glimpse of an elephant grazing in some grassland adjacent to the highway and made an impromptu stop (planning session) at the equator (different equator crossing than the one from an earlier post -- this one is in western Uganda and apparently isn't actually right at the equator but several hundred metres down the road. It was moved because it's original location was right at an intersection and apparently caused frequent accidents)

Chillin' at the equator

Chillin' at the equator

We made several calls to lodges in Queen E Park during our pitstop but all were, understandably fully booked, so we decided to press on a little further to Lake Mburo where we had confirmed availability earlier in the day -- safari tents which at 40,000 shillings a tent seemed like a bargain. Was there a good reason the prices were so cheap we wondered?

As soon as we entered the park, we were greeted by impalas and shortly after that, warthogs, zebras and waterbucks.

The accommodation proved to be rustic but adequate and the nearby restaurant served up a delicious supper.

At Acadia Cottages: the meals were reasonable but the rooms were not! $400 for a family cottage that slept 4. We stuck with the $20 safari tents at the neighbouring Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) site

At Acadia Cottages: the meals were reasonable but the rooms were not! $400 for a family cottage that slept 4. We stuck with the $20 safari tents at the neighbouring Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) site

The next day, most of us woke early to head out on a walking safari which evolved into a game drive after the ranger declared our group unfit to do the walk (on account of the many young children!) It was probably for the best since we did get to walk around a little but were spared the hefty bill we would have paid if we had gone on the full walk to the salt licks. We drove up to a beautiful look-out which was one of the highlights of the drive for me.

A hippo making its way through the brush -- we seemed to be headed in the same general direction

A hippo making its way through the brush -- we seemed to be headed in the same general direction


Warthog den

Warthog den


Herd of zebras

Herd of zebras


At Kazuna look-out, close-up of an acacia branch with one of the lakes in the background

At Kazuna look-out, close-up of an acacia branch with one of the lakes in the background

After the game drive, we boarded a boat for a ride on the lake. Lots of birds and other interesting creatures to see. At one point we entered a little lagoon that was literally crocodile-infested. A little unnerving to see crocs slipping into the water on all sides of you!!

This one was just a baby

This one was just a baby


A hippo regards us suspiciously

A hippo regards us suspiciously


Pretty Brooke models the (not-so) latest in lifesaving vests

Pretty Brooke models the (not-so) latest in lifesaving vests


Breakfast with a view

Breakfast with a view

The trip home was long and tiring and the truck did eventually overheat in Kampala's rush-hour traffic. Fortunately, it didn't happen right in the middle of one of Kampala's busiest roundabouts! (Turned out to be a water pump issue which has since been resolved along with my starter problems--thank goodness I've found a good mechanic in town) It was good to get "home" as we now call our little apartment here in the city. Happy New Year everyone!

Posted by BriteLite 10:23 Archived in Uganda Comments (1)

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