A Travellerspoint blog

Niteo: New Kansanga Centre

It's official: we've signed the lease, paid the rent, hired a caretaker and have started raising support for our new resource centre in Kansanga. On Monday, I gave my parents a tour of the place, which still needs some work, but which we hope will have children busily reading and playing in, in no time at all! We just need to have a few electrical outlets installed, some plumbing repaired, and bookshelves bought and stocked (the Niteo Ntinda centre has offered to share books with us), and we'll be ready to go. I plan to do some of our homeschooling at the centre from here on out so that I will be available to tutor local children who are now on school break until the end of January. From the report cards I've seen, it looks like some tutoring is required. As far as I could decipher after reviewing some grades, the Ugandan system (at least at the primary level) allows a student to earn failing marks in core subjects like math and science but still to progress to the next grade as long as the other subjects like penmanship and religious studies are high enough. From what I could tell, all subjects were given equal weight. One boy we know, had 47% in math, 51% in science and 53% in social studies but still managed to place 12th of 28 in his class and was passed, thanks to a 98% percent in penmanship and 95% in religion. This seems to me to be a problem!

Academic issues aside, we've been in regular discussions with our umbrella organization, Niteo, and the details regarding our partnership are slowly falling into place. We are now able to accept tax-receiptable donations for our centre either online on the Niteo website at www.niteoafrica.org or by cheque, payable to Niteo and mailed to: Karine Veldhoen at 365 McCarren Ave., Kelowna, BC V1W 4W3. There is no place to designate to our centre when using PayPal online, so if you would like to use this option, please be sure to send me an email (bakerjocelyne@gmail.com) to confirm your contribution directly with me.

I am very excited to be partnering with Niteo. We met with the founder, Karine, this summer when she was here in Uganda with a team. She has a vibrant personality and is enthusiastic about providing opportunities for impoverished children. I particularly like the name she has chosen for the organization. Niteo is a Latin word meaning to shine, glitter, be bright, glow; to bloom, thrive. Not only is it our vision for the children of Uganda, but it also reminds me of the verse in Phillipians 2:15 which says..."Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life."

At the gate

At the gate


Our hard-working caretaker, Alima, and her daughter, Rider

Our hard-working caretaker, Alima, and her daughter, Rider


View from the front

View from the front


Backyard still needs some work! We hope to plant a community garden.

Backyard still needs some work! We hope to plant a community garden.

A large, bright room and the future home of our library

A large, bright room and the future home of our library

The front yard has great potential for outdoor activities

The front yard has great potential for outdoor activities

My dad, fooling around in the centre

My dad, fooling around in the centre

Posted by BriteLite 02:56 Archived in Uganda Comments (2)

Murchison Falls

So while we were staying at the Red Chilli up in Murchison, we had the good fortune of being introduced to George, a long-time Ugandan safari guide and story-teller extraordinaire. He's been working in the park for about thirty years now (which means he was around back when Idi Amin was still in charge) and every now and again he will join Red Chilli guests around the campfire and regale them with history lessons and tall tales. The night we were there, he talked a little bit about the history of the park and the falls. At one time Murchison Falls was thought by European explorers to be the source of the Nile. Of course, John Speke later discovered the true source of the Nile at Lake Victoria near Jinja, but the finding hasn't really diminished the importance of the Falls to both tourists and locals alike. The sheer volume of water that passes through a relatively small crevice in the rock, just 7 or 8 metres at the narrowest point, is awe-inspiring. There was once a footbridge that traversed the falls and which the Queen walked across when she visited Uganda on her honeymoon. Severe flooding in 1962 took out the bridge and created a secondary diversion which resulted in the creation of a second set of falls which were called Freedom Falls because their formation coincided with the granting of Uganda's independence.

Posted by BriteLite 11:21 Archived in Uganda Comments (1)

Safari Snapshots

My parents have been visiting for the past couple of weeks (heading home tomorrow) and yesterday we returned from a safari trip up in Murchison Falls. Below are a few photos we took while we were there.

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

'Tis the Season...

for grasshoppers

So while many of you are gearing up for a white Christmas, over here in Uganda, we are bracing ourselves for the hottest temperatures of the year. And apparently grasshoppers -- big, juicy, green grasshoppers -- are also in season! I've observed, with interest, the growing number of grasshopper vendors, serving up take-away containers full of roasted grasshoppers. In fact, I've even tried one of these Ugandan delicacies myself (they taste a little like popcorn, just a little grittier). But up until today, I hadn't seen them sold live. As we walked our regular route to Mama Jordan's shop for Saturday morning reading, I was a little taken aback to see a vendor pushing a wheelbarrow full of the creepy crawly critters. Everyone seemed to be buying them and many of the woman we saw this morning, who would otherwise be busy doing laundry or cooking over their charcoal fires, were instead sitting in front of their shops, leisurely dissecting their newly purchased insects in preparation for roasting. Every other child seemed to have one in his or her possession and they seemed to take great pleasure in chasing my kids with their "pets". I wish I'd had my camera handy so I'd have had some photos to post!

Posted by BriteLite 11:42 Comments (1)

Cool Videos

I was able to catch some of the excitement at Bugajali Falls on video. You'll have to excuse the shaking on the second video. I think I was trying to move into a better position but if you stick out the first few seconds, it does get better!

And my dad was right; it was a jerry can buoying this guy up!

Mara's comment after this performance by a man born with a lame leg was "Wow, Mom! That just goes to show you that you can be useful even if you're handicapped." If you look at the photo of this man with our family in the previous entry you'll see that he wears a huge smile; he was also one of the friendliest people I have ever met!

Posted by BriteLite 19:06 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

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