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Reisverslag Back to reality
7 april 2016
Back to reality
For the first three days I hoped he was right, because Kampala and I didn’t really match. There is way too much traffic! In Amsterdam it’s busy too, but there the bikes and tourists are your main worry. In Los Angeles there are many cars, but hardly anyone walks. In Kampala traffic is everywhere. Boda boda’s (taxi-scooters), busses, trucks, cars, the occasional bike and massive groups of pedestrians. You can’t just stand on the side of the road and breathe. You have to keep moving if you don’t want to get hit or stand in someone’s way. Or at least, that was my feeling. So I was looking forward to the quite countryside.
But not before I had some Indian food and went to the Kampala Comedy Club with a German and Canadian girl from my hostel. We had great fun! Obviously a few comedians had to joke about the three white chicks. “Are you really that white or did are you from Congo and bleached it?” he asked me.
The next day we drove to Karenga in the Northeast of Uganda (district Kaabong). It took us 10 hours to go there, instead of the expected 12. Including a flat tire and a few cows on the road. At first side it was just what I expected a small village in East-Africa would be like. Small houses, dirt roads and people carrying buckets with (or without) water. How idyllic!
I’m living in a small guesthouse called Buffalo Base Campus and it somehow reminds me of an American farm. Without the horses in the back. The house is standing 8km from Kidepo Valley National Park and 38 km from the border with South-Sudan. I have my own bed that I share with two Dutch students. Most of the time we have electricity and water, but because of the rain season – about which Solomon told me not the complaint, because the land needed the rain – the sun isn’t always available to provide the power. There is no warm water, but I don’t mind it as much as I thought I would. I do mind the bugs in the bathroom though
After a couple of days I got to know the town a bit better and then on Tuesday – 4,5 days in Karenga and 7 days in Uganda – reality hit me. Hard.
Elementary schools are free in Uganda, so most of the children are going there. Yet, not all of them. Some of them have to work on the land to provide for their families. That would be somewhat OK, if there was no-one else to do the work. But a lot of times there is. Monday afternoon my roommates, one of the staff members and I went pooling – the only thing you can do besides sitting in front of the house and looking at people passing by. While we had great fun with the men that wanted to see the white chicks play – and in the end wanted to win from one of them – there was a boy working on the field on the other side of the street. And he wasn’t the exception, he was the rule. Women and children do the hard labor, that’s for sure.
The other thing I’ve noticed is that there is a lot of garbage everywhere. In Kampala, but also in Karenga. In the gardens, on the street, everywhere. The roads are made of sand and goats, chickens and insects are walking the street freely. The men, women and (young) children are walking through the waste on bare feet or with flip-flops on. I asked why nobody cleaned the roads, but as it turns out, there is no place to put it. No garbage belt, no truck that brings it away, no nothing. So the people of Karenga have no other option than to just throw it away anywhere or to sometimes burn the garbage. In their gardens or on the street. With fire hazards and/or unhealthy flumes in the air as a result. So you can’t blame the people, but it will have a negative influence on the health and safety of the community.
So, after a sleepless night, I found an article about how people get paid for gathering waste that can be recycled in Kampala. And decided I wanted to investigate if there are any possibilities for the people of Karenga to make use of that arrangement – somehow. Because the plans were that I would set up a citywalk through Karenga for tourists, I had to discuss my plan with the manager of the project (Lily) and she was happy with the initiative.
So, for the next 3,5 weeks I’ll try to come up with a plan to solve the waste problem for the village I’m living in. Maybe there is already an organization working on it, then I’ll meet them in my journey. Maybe I’m the one who will start it all for this beautiful part of East Africa. Either way, reality hit me, woke me up and hopefully inspired me to make a little bit of difference in that crazy world of us!
To be continued…
7 april 2016 13:40 | Door: Els
Lieve Kim, seems like a very rewarding project you will be working on! Good luck!
7 april 2016 16:26 | Door: Wies
Work your magic on the waste project girl and keep enjoying yourself to make the most of this experience. XxW