Our destinations in Uganda

Our destinations in Uganda

Monday, January 10, 2011

Return to Michigan

We arrived in Michigan today after 36 hours of traveling. Thank you very much for reading my blog while I was away. I had a great time in Uganda.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Saying goodbye to Muko and visitng the savannah

Yesterday we spent our last two hours in Muko in the morning. We had a meeting to discuss what we accomplished during the week and tied down any loose ends. Then 13 of us (the five team members, Christopher, Charles and the Turinawe's) loaded up into the van and headed off to Queen Elizabeth National Park.

The drive to the park was mountainous as was most of Muko. However, once we approached the park the terrain flattened suddenly becoming the savanna. Baboons welcomed us to the park. We had a dinner at our lodge (Simba Safari) before going to bed early. We got up for our 6:30 safari tour which lasted three hours. We saw hippos, elephants and many other native animals. We then had a brunch before departing for Kampala. We arrived and visited a friend of Generous's to look at more fabric then went to dinner at an Italian restaurant.

Tomorrow we will be doing lots of packing. We also hope to visit Father Bruno in the hospital. I met him when he came to Midland and Alma with Charles. We will then say goodbye to our Uganda friends before departing on our 1:45 AM flight (not a typo). We will land in Amsterdam and have a six hour layover before arriving in Detroit at 5:00 PM Eastern on Monday. This will be my last post before arriving back in America. It was a great trip and I learned a lot and cannot wait to share it with people.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Visiting orphans in Muko

Today was our last full day in Muko. We arrived around 10. Holly and Ashley went to visit the orphans once we got there while I stayed with Alexander to work on inventory issues. When Sue arrived I went with her, Charles, Generous and Alexander to visit orphans. First we dropped Dale off at Tito's garden. It was very nice. We visited eight orphans in four hours. Their houses were very difficult to get to since they were up on steep hills. We heard the orphan's stories, most of which were very sad but all inspirational.

We returned to Muko a few hours later to pack up all the baskets we are bringing back to Michigan. We ate at the White Horse Hotel again and it was another good meal. Tomorrow we are going to say our goodbyes to the village and leave for Queen Elizabeth National Park by noon.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Two busy days in Muko

The power was out last night so I was not able to post. However we had two busy days. Yesterday we arrived in Muko at 8:30 to prepare for Dale's dental clinic. We invited all 59 orphans to have their teeth checked. My primary jobs during the time was to take pictures of the orphans and interview their guardians. Holly acted as Dale's assistant.

We finished the clinic around three then immediately after Holly and I had to lead a focus group with the men of the village. We asked them what they would like to do to help out with the ACT program. The event was very successful and we received great feedback. We left Muko and arrived in Kabale with time to spare.
We spent a few minutes looking around downtown Kabale before going to dinner. It took three hours for them to serve us and the power went out multiple times. Still it was a good dinner with great conversation.

Today we arrived in Muko a little before 10 in the morning. The women of the village who make handcrafts were visiting the center to participate in a few sessions we hosted. Dale taught the women how to sew (among other things) while Holly taught them proper cutting techniques and I hosted another focus group to determine how we can help them out. This event was also very successful.

For lunch we ate at a nearby campground before heading off for some errands. First we stopped at a school that is currently being built. The headmaster is a Ugandan native who travels back and forth to the U.S. We also visited some land ACT is looking at purchasing. We then traveled to Ikamiro Church to have tea with Reverend Julius before visiting the medical clinic and the garden of one of the board members.

We left Muko after dark so we decided to eat at the hotel. It was a good meal. It was an amazing few days that have impacted me greatly. Unfortunately I am too tired tonight to discuss in much detail.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Meeting day

Today we stayed in Kabale for the entire day. We had a meeting with the ACT Muko Board followed by another meeting with the staff members of ACT. The meetings were successful in planning out the rest of the week and taking another look at ACT's strategic plan.

We had an early night - we were done by 7 pm. The five team members and Charles went to the bar and we played cards for a while.

Tomorrow we are returning to the village. In the morning Dale will be providing a dental check-up for the orphans. We will be helping out as well. Holly and I need to meet with Alexander to discuss sustainability issues as well as host a focus group with the men of the village to determine how they can be involved in the ACT programs.

Sorry for the short post - I am rather tired. However I am sure tomorrow's will be longer. Good night!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

First Day at the Village

We went to the village of Muko for the first time today. We arrived around 10 am then the team split up to go to four different churches. I went to the church on the mountain, Ikamilao Church of Uganda, with Richard, his kids and Christopher. On the way we picked up Richard's brother Caleb and his mother. We had tea with the pastor's wife before going to the ceremony. There was a lot of singing and dancing. Richard went up and made a special blessing for his kids, Christopher and myself. I also met a candidate running for a Parliament position. I met the pastor, Julius Kyarikunda, and then went to visit the medical clinic located next door. We all road down together heading for Muko after the two hour ceremony (and we were late!).

We had another great lunch at the Muko school before heading to another gathering of all faiths. People celebrated by dancing and singing again. We all felt very welcomed by the village. We spoke to the staff of ACT Muko and spent the day getting to know the staff and other influential people of the village. I also played a small role in trying to teach the children English, although they spoke it pretty well. We were also interviewed by a man who works for the radio station in Kabale. He asked us about our involvement in the project. We spoke to him for a while and he was curious about our opinions on the Ugandan culture.

We had another late dinner at the White Horse Inn with Christopher and Charles. It was pretty good - I had egg curry. We had some rather deep conversations and Charles told us more about his life. It was another good day in Uganda. Tomorrow we have a late morning (no complaints here) as the ACT board members will be meeting us here in Kabale. It is a rather relaxed day compared to the other days we have been here and there will be minimal driving. Still it would be nice to visit Muko tomorrow to see our new friends but we will spend plenty of time there the following three days.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Traditional Ugandan Wedding

Today we woke up rather late - around 8 am. We had a relaxing morning with breakfast in Mbarara. We left to go to a traditional Uganda wedding. The ceremony was performed in Rukiga, the local language of the area. There was a lot of dancing and music and was a beautiful ceremony. We had a giant dinner with many traditional Ugandan foods. I have been eating healthier here than I do in Michigan! We then presented our present to the bride before leaving to travel to Lydia's house. Lydia is a board member of ACT Muko who lives 30 minutes away from Kabale. We had a snack there and spoke to her for a while. We arrived in Kabale and checked into the Cepha's Inn where we will be staying the next few days.

I am a bit tired as I write this so I am not doing justice to all we did today. However I want to point out how fortunate we were to experience this event. We were able to see a traditional Ugandan wedding and visit a part of Africa that few Americans will ever see. Both the wedding and Lydia's house are off the highway quite a ways. The roads are bad but the geography is amazing. The hills just got larger and larger as we continued to travel.
Tomorrow we will be visiting Muko for the first time. We will have church service in the morning then sing at another service in the afternoon. To all those in America: have a great day!