From Work to Play, and Everything in Between

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 4.35.02 PM6/21/15 (Day 5)

Hello Readers, Sam here. It’s day five of our adventure in Uganda
working along side our Partner Kitovu Mobile LTD and I have to say
it’s been as action packed as expected. I can speak for all of us in
saying that everyone was excited to leave Entembee airport and get on
our way to the hotel in Masaka on the first day, where we were picked
up by our soon to be good friend Stephen, who is the director of
Orphans and Family support program at Kitovu.
We spent much of our first day at Kitovu meeting the staff and talking
to our contact, Charles, about all of the programs that they run.
Turns out they do much more than I ever knew they did.  GlobeMed at
NEU’s specific project relates to water sanitation and hygiene, but
Kitovu goes as far as to supply antiretroviral treatment, offer
support to orphans, lead financial education courses for elderly women
and much more. All of this they do by driving out to the surrounding
communities, hours away from their offices in Masaka.

The Work

Our second day was a real treat because we got to observe a meeting
between two of the Self Help Groups that Kitovu organized. Self Help
Groups are groups of women that have come together and are taught by
Kitovu to organize their money and resources to farm and invest to
reach a point of financial stability. This program takes about four
years, with the final year being spent passing on what information one
group has learned to another that is just starting out.
Watching this happen I could see the impact that a grassroots style
approach has on developing communities. Each of the Self Help Groups
utilizes what resources they have to reach sustainability, rather than
foreign aid. It builds structure and good practices that can continue
long after Kitovu has moved on to another village. During the meeting
the two groups discussed every aspect of what it takes to create a
collaborative economic system. The passing of knowledge between two
neighbors stands at the very least to be more effective at shaping a
positive future than any influence from a foreign power. In this
instance Kitovu has provided tools to assist a singular community.
However social nature of the community allows for the potential for
Kitovu’s impact to be amplified to others in the area. All things
considered it turned out to be an exhausting day and we were all very
excited to be able to see the beauty of Uganda’s major body of fresh
water, Lake Victoria, the following day.

The Play

Our little beach day turned out better than any of us could have
expected. It started pouring on the hour-long ride there, but as soon
as we arrived the clouds gave way to a beautifully warm and breezy
afternoon. Stephen and a student at Kitovu named Winnie, who had
helped us translate at the meeting the day before, accompanied us.  We
took a bunch of pictures by the water and dared to dip our feet in and
walk on the silky sand. Like any American beach day I’m always readily
equipped with a Frisbee so we also taught out new friends how to throw
and play Ultimate. While it may never become as big as soccer (or
football rather) I feel that there is some true potential for the game
to catch fire over here in Uganda. It was during our post game rest
that we saw a couple boats on the water and managed to finagle our way
into a motorboat tour of the coastline that was literally crawling
with monkeys and snakes. The final notable thing was lunch, which we
got at a small shack on the beach. If you like fish as much as I do
you had better get yourself over to Lake Victoria because they were
serving freshly cooked fish that they no doubt had caught earlier that
day. I’m not talking fillets either; I mean the whole raw fish was
charred leaving us to pick off as much meat as possible from the
skeleton.

The in Between

I can definitely say it’s been a great trip so far and there’s
definitely lots to admire about the culture. I realize this post is
getting pretty long and I haven’t even mentioned the food, the people,
or the town of Masaka yet (probable better for a future post). But
what I can say is during the 30 minute to 3 hour car rides to and from
Masaka it’s easy to see that Uganda is literally bursting with life
flora and fauna alike. We’ve seen vendors sell us freshly picked
mangos, pineapples, and sugarcane through our car window. A multitude
of animals can be seen on any road happily grazing in the sunlight.
I’ve come to enjoy every minute of the long car rides enjoying the
view from atop the endless peaks and valleys in this part of Uganda,
the whole time thinking what could possibly be around the bend.

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