I have been unable to get wireless Internet since I arrived to Uganda. Pardon my brevity and or typos. I write this blog short and brief because I’m using USA phone to write this post. But I had to start my filling everybody in on my travels.
We arrived Friday 1pm Uganda time. The drive from the airport was cozy, fitting 5 in a small car ( one of our grantees, Fremma, our driver and another driver who was driving b/c the first driver had no car). I learned a few words in Luganda, the language spoken here in Kampala, the capital, in addition to some backstory of the country. I know very little about Uganda, knowing mainly what you hear in the news here and there. My decision to come to Uganda was quite random- or maybe not random at all.
Uganda has been coming up the past 2 yrs. First, my friend Andrew moved here as a Peace Core Volunteer which was around the same time the The Pollination Project saw a surge in applications coming from Uganda. The applicants were referred to us from various places and sources, yet the projects have called my attention because of the creative responses to issues in their communities and the resiliency behind the grantees and people involved in the projects. After TPP and Andrew put Uganda on my mental map, Uganda continued to pop up everywhere.
Every time I said I wanted to visit Uganda, people asked me; “Why Uganda?”
To which I answered, “Exactly, why Uganda? What’s going on there? And why do I keep hearing about it?”
Slowly I’ve been learning ‘Why Uganda’. Uganda is a culturally diverse, geographically stunning and relatively safe country rocked by a violent history , bordered by tumultuous countries and a growing economy.
It is considered the Pearl of Africa. In fact, there was a sign at customs with an incredibly long hash tag that informed me of it. It’s one of the only places in the world where you can see Gorillas and other great apes, it has 3 safari parks, top notch white water rafting in the Nile River, ridiculously plush scenic views, crater lakes, coffee and vanilla coops and agricultural lands straight out of a National Geographic and a plethora of other things I have yet to hear about. The weather is tropical with a really nice cool breeze and a bit cooler in the south. The people so far have proven to be absolutely kind, patient and soft spoken. There are no shortage of languages spoken throughout the country but mainly one dominant faith, Christ- based theology with a minority Muslim population.
They’ve had the same ‘President’ for over 20 yrs and it is now illegal for people to congregate in a public setting and talk about the government in a negative way. I found out that a vast majority of the people strongly support the anti- gay rights Bill, and around 240 people have been sent to jail after passing this law. Much of the country believes that homosexuality are the reason behind the spread of HIV and a lot of this was sparked and spread by missionaries coming and heavily influencing the country with anti-gay propaganda. The anti-gay bill has significantly diminished foreign aid in the country to which Uganda has responded with ‘anti-west’ sentiments, stating that ‘they are not dependent on aid for the country to survive’. A statement, of course, often said by the rich.
Uganda is definitely going through a period of growth and the country is working hard at finding their own identity.
We are leaving Kampala for a very remote village in the East where my friend Andrew has been stationed for the past few years. It will take us an entire day to travel to his village.
Until next time.