Friday, June 12, 2009

Under African Skies

We have been unable to post until this point as we have been out on the farm for the beginning of the week, and the internet has been unavailable until recently. There are many things to catch up on!

Perhaps the best place to start is the bus ride out to Kasese. Seth and I caught a cab at 5:30 am to the bus park and upon arrival I couldn't help thinking that it was little more than a mob of people in a dirt lot. Before the car stopped people were opening the doors of the cab and taking out our luggage. John has warned us to keep an eye out for people who tend to run off with bags, so Seth and I sprinted to opposite sides of the bus to ensure nothing was stolen. Finally, after quite a bit of struggle we made it onto the bus and we were off. Although a bumpy six hour ride, the road through Mbarara offers some of the most spectacular views of Uganda that I have seen thus far. While riding through the foothills of the Rwenzoris the road passes by Lake Africa. Our friend Isaac was kind enough to explain the lake to us once in Kasese- he told us that the lake was shaped by volcanic lava, and it is a perfect replica of the African continent. In addition, the water source that feeds the Lake runs out the top in the same place as the Nile Delta. The bus passes right by what would be the border of South Africa and Mozambique!

According to all of the guide books Kasese is a hot and dusty town that isn't worth making a stop for on the way to Fort Portal. Although undeniably hot and dusty, I have enjoyed my time in town. Much to my surprise there are a lot of other mzungus around, and when I spot them I almost get the urge to point and yell "mzungu!". The phenomenon must be contagious. Everyone in the CETRUD office is wonderful and has been very helpful in showing us the local markets and restaurants around town. Our stay at the CETRUD garden was luxurious when compared to everyone else- running water, electricity, fans, showers, three meals a day, even air conditioning (for one night). However we made up for it quickly during our stay on the farm. During our three days we learned a lot about the day to day operations of the farm, and the pace at which things happen in rural areas. We also learned that it is possible to survive without running water electricity. The CETRUD farm provides food to local markets and hotels in Kasese, and prides itself on being a teaching farm. Training programs about nutritious farming, produce yield enhancement, and other topics are held for community members. One of the most inspiring programs CETRUD offers is the Caretakers Program, in which proceeds from the farm are used to support over 200 children orphaned and families affected by HIV/AIDS. The money pays for school fees and provides scholastic materials for those who could not otherwise afford school. Despite doing so much good in their community, CETRUD suffers in the sense that the CBO desires to do more than there is funding for. In my time here I hope to find more grant funding for the community so that they can continue to make a difference.

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