Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Update from Kasese

I am currently staying in a hostel in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. Seth and I have been traveling for the past few days and although we had planned to trek back to Kasese today, we cannot bring ourselves to do it. The six hour bus ride is very hot, bumpy and crowded and we have spent most of this morning traveling on small crowded mutatus to get to the capital. Not looking forward to sticky laminated seats and chickens pecking at our ankles, we have decided to break up our travel and enjoy Kampala for a little while! In the past week we have traveled to Murchison Falls, where we went on safari. While in the park we saw elephants, warthogs, giraffes, antelope, hippos, crocodiles, lions, and much more. We also took a boat ride down the nile river, where we spotted many hippos and took pictures in front of the falls. Following our trip we went to Mukono district for a dinner with one of the organizations that AGRADU works with. The food was wonderful, and we liked the place so much we decided to stay for a day and see the city! After staying in Kyetume for a few days we went down to Katosi, which is a small fishing village in Mukono District. We visited the two girls who are working there, and they showed us around town. We went to Rhea's english class, fed monkeys on Monkey Hill, and took a boat ride with a local fisherman out on Lake Victoria! It was great to see the girls, and totally worth the bouncy rides on the mutatus to get there (mutatus are rickety vans that serve as taxis and ugandans load 20 or more people on them) It has been really interesting to see the other interns CBO's and where they are living. It is also just nice to hang out together, it is a bit of a reminder of home!
So now, Seth and I are relaxing for the day and updating our blogs. Tomorrow we are back to Kasese, and we plan to go to the local schools to begin teaching or tutoring in whatever subjects are needed. One difficulty we have faced in Uganda is that although there are programs for us to work on, they rarely fill our day. In order to take full advantage of my time here I am going to help out in the schools as much as possible in the next few weeks. I am also working with a secondary school on a health program, and with another local organization that supports children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Many of the children have HIV themselves, and they are often teased in school for it and tend to drop out. The organization aims to counsel the children, give them ARV's, pay their school fees, and push them to get an education. I have also recently begun working with the Rwenzori Empowerment Center, an organization that is doing a lot of good work in the area. The organization has an orphanage for street children, a training center for women to learn how to sew and make a living, and a micro-finance program. R.E.C. also pays for landmine victims to travel to proper hospitals and get prosthetic limbs. I am constantly impressed by how many people are working hard to improve lives in this country. I am also surprised at just how kind Ugandans are, and how willing they are to help out whatever the situation.
I suppose that is everything that has been happening for the past few weeks, I am having a great time but also looking forward to getting home. As the weeks progress its funny how much more often the interns talk about foods we miss when we are all together. I will try to post some pictures, but Ugandan internet is quite different than the speeds we are used to.

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