Hello Again! Our itinerary has kept us quite busy, and will continue to for the next week until we fly back to the States. We are now in South Africa and looking forward to visiting our Room to Read and Books for Africa partners.
Our last few days in Uganda were very memorable. We all had the opportunity to travel for one day with Invisible Children mentors as they made visits to families and students. Invisible Children sponsors a scholarship program for nearly 700 students in the Gulu, Uganda area. These students not only have their education paid for, but are partnered with a mentor who helps the student to focus on their studies. Many of the students attend boarding schools as well and the mentors communicate between the students and families so news from home makes it to school and back again.
The main mode of transportation for the mentors is cheap, fast and easy to maneuver in the busy Gulu streets: motorbikes! A number of us even cruised a little way out of town and into the bush, where the countryside is green, lush and covered in a mixture of tall grass, tasseling maize, and palm trees. I stopped at five different homes over the course of the day (which included a break at lunch for the local high school volleyball tournament) with Jefferey, who mentors 32 students in all. The conversations were in the local language, and usually centered around the health of the family members and other happenings at home. It was a fascinating and humbling experience to be invited into homes, offered maize (like sweet corn, without the sweet, butter or salt!) and soda and hear the conversations translated from my mentor. What an incredible look into the real day-to-day experiences of a wonderfully hospitable and open culture.
So much of our trip has been enlightening and terrific. However, I feel it is only right to share some of our more anecdotal experiences as well. In preparation for a cruise on the Nile which was planned for our time at Murchison Falls National Park (see Jason’s upcoming post), one of our members visited the Pharmacy asking for a motion sickness remedy. Upon leaving, walking to our restaurant and opening the box and reading the details, we found it was actually a remedy for morning sickness. This person was able to return the purchase for a full refund.
Ugandan vehicles have to be built to survive hard and bumpy roads in the dry season and large mud puddles and slicks in the wet season. Our vehicle was from the Invisible Children office, and held up wonderfully for our long hours on the road. One afternoon, as we were about halfway through a five our trek, we stopped to stretch. As soon as everyone was out of the car, we heard a hissing and looked; our rear tire was losing air, and quickly went completely flat. Luckily we had a spare with us, but the jack we had wasn’t tall enough to get the vehicle far enough off the ground! The next hour (maybe more) was spent trying to place the tire in the perfect pothole, while keeping the axel on high ground so we would be able to get the tire off. The truly ironic part was that this was one of the smoothest gravel roads we had been on in days…
More stories to come!
P.S. Wanna see how the whole thing started? Check out the earlier Africa trip posts: