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Life in Africa Gulu

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Life in Africa Gulu

Post by Admin on Fri 28 Mar 2008, 6:36 pm

Norman and I are now based at the Life in Africa HQ in Gulu, and have had a busy schedule, touring around with Francis and George. We'll be here for a week.

Gulu today is much different than what we saw in Invisible Children. The streets are filled with people night and day going about their lives. Still there are many issues to address and some people are still living in the displaced persons camps, like one we saw today. The war went on for 20 years, so many don't know where home is anymore. This afternoon we gave a lady a lift that didn't know what town she had to get off at to find her village. Her mother told George to make sure we drop her at Palenga and then she'd need to find her way walking through the bush.

Saturday a group of 45 children were here singing and playing games. They had a lunch together and then we explained the hammock making project. None of them had ever seen a hammock before. Nobody in Norman's village had either. Hammocks are just not common here, so this could be a very profitable opportunity for Life in Africa, and the Good Samaritan School to make them to sell in local and international markets.

I asked the kids how many were night commuters traveling from the villages to sleep together in shelters during the war in fear of being abducted. Nearly all of them put up their hands. Most of them also put up hands when I asked how many lost parents.

We have one sewing machine here ready, and the other awaits the peddle which fell out of the box on the bumpy bus ride from Mbale. The peddle is in the bus station office, so we'll have it back tomorrow and start sewing hammocks.

Yesterday, we attended a wedding in Masindi, a village near Karuma falls on the Nile. Along the drive we fed baboons' begging on the highway, and got some photos. I'd never experienced anything like it.

George was the chairman of the wedding committee. He grew up with the family and they paid for his school fees. The family is one of the largest land owners in that district, with 1000 acres, and all of them are very well educated... being doctors, lawyers and teachers. The father died early and eldest brother, a lawyer, was a member of parliament at age 23, and put the other eight siblings through school. They are keen to have more volunteers visit their village and offered their houses to live in and land to set up a camp on. One of the sisters is head teacher at a local school and will be happy to have guest teachers. The place felt very safe and I will work on facilitating this project.

We arrived at the village exhausted from an early morning and late night of dancing the night before. I regretted not bring a hammock to rest. Kids everywhere, keen to play with the Muzungu(strange white guy). It seemed like I was the only white person they have ever seen.

I wished I had the dance hoop. I looked in hardware shops for materials, but plastic tubing is rare here. I grabbed a large bike tire off the roof of a bycycle repair shop, but it was too soft. The men there thought I was silly the way I was playing with it, but after walking away they called me back to get a more sturdy tire, with treads worn down smooth. It worked perfectly.

We washed it at the village water pump, and by then there was a group of 30 kids ready for a show, plus a dozen prison inmates that happened to be sitting there.

The hoop play went on for hours before and after the wedding, and they were fighting over it by dark, and following me in a huge crowd, so I needed to hid-out to keep them from following. One little boy took a special liking to the hoop and loved being in front of the camera. He was a pushy kid, obviously needing attention. We became good friends and he stayed with me, holding my hand and asking me to swing him around. This sort of personal connection I find very satisfying, because I was able to give what he needed, and maybe the hoop could be a positive way he can continue to channel energy. The hoop being a bycycle tire ended up being a good thing, so that they could use what they had locally.

The choir singing at the wedding was enchanting and I plan to use the music for the soundtrack of my documentary. I shot a good overview of the whole wedding and will give a copy to the family, plus a disc of all the still images. The dance party afterward lasted all night and I was too tired dance, but the bed I was laying in was only a hundred feet from the massive speakers and crowd of 500+, so again I got little sleep. Norman slept in the vehicle far away, and got much better rest. My head hurts, and throat hurts a bit, which I'm sure is due to lack of sleep and water. I can't drink the local water, everyone reminds me, so I always need to be prepared. It is hot, so I need to drink a lot. I need to sleep now.

Please take the time to read Aaron's proposal below and help continue the work we are doing here. I really want Aaron to come, knowing he has many gifts. I have given him $380 from the sale of 7 hammocks that Karenann Whalen sold in Montreal. Now we need others to take action soon as possible. The reason I write reports and share images is to inspire a grassroots movement, which will really make a difference on the ground in the long term. We will continue the work started by the connections made this trip. Already, Shady Willis and Jamie Luv are planning Action Hero adventures in Uganda this coming summer.

Aaron will be visiting late May. He will be working in Norman's village for most of his stay. Below you can read my report after returning from the village:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The place was beautiful... the people.. the mountains...

Bunabumali Village is one of the most unique communities I have ever experienced. Houses are peppered on steep slopes connected by foot paths. There are no power lines and no cars. Mount Elgon high above catches clouds and rain comes and goes--- down pouring, then sunny minutes later. Banana trees and coffee bushes grow everywhere... as do children.

There are lots and lots of children. Norman's family, which has 8 children of their own, adopted 10 kids-- two homeless due to AIDS, and 8 that lost their parents in landslides. From 1997 to 2004... 1000 people have died from landslides.

I arrived at the school last week to a chorus of children singing and clapping to welcome me. Three days later, I was sitting next to the dead body of one of those kids, Doreen, age 10, the last of three siblings to die from AIDS, leaving her mother weeping with us beside Doreen on the bed.

I have been at this computer for nearly two and a half hours and it has yet to let me upload a photo, due to being slow, so we'll work on it tomorrow. I have lots to share. It was one of the most amazing weeks of my life. The place was beautiful... the people.. the mountains... everything.

The project was a complete success. Yesterday, we made 21 hammocks. We have recorded many people in the village on video sharing their needs and requests to invite more visitors to come with their talents.

Everyone in the village was grateful to have me there and I always felt safe. I was gifted three chickens and countless bananas, passion fruit, tomatoes, avocados, papaya, etc. They said I am the first non-African to stay in the village over-night. Everywhere I went, all eyes were on me, which was a problem at a track and field event, because I was taking attention away from what was going on, so I hid-out in the government hall.

Time has run out on this computer.

More soon.




Yo. All right.

So, I do have friends in Kampala, happy to host me if needs be. However, it would be nice to connect with Norman immediately and head straight to the orphanage to continue where you left off. Here are is a rough blueprint for what I hope to do:

1) bring (fruit and vegetable) seeds for commencing on permaculture gardening projects.

*is there room to build a small greenhouse? or perennial raised beds?

do they have tools?

2) to continue your work with hammocks and geodesic domes. *is there more to do? endless?

3) organize groups of children to perform musical theatre shows based on issues raised by the kids. theatre games. breakdance. beatbox. rap. recycled instrument making. anything which might bring positive media, relevant life reflection, and offer a model of peace and empowerment through the arts. (this would be amazing to film...even to put camera's into the children's hands (disposable cameras, cheap video cams, etc). and what about the refugee camp "ball" where we have local entertainment, local food, etc?

4) and lastly, to do interviews with existing NGO's, community projects, orphanages, musicians, artists, farmers, and others who are bringing real solutions of unity, sustainability, and creativity to Uganda and the world.

O.K. So, this is all still pending appraisal- based on what's actually feasible with materials, genuine interest, and monetary logistics- of course.

With no agenda,


p.s. i leave on tuesday to teach workshops with native youth in northern canada...


Last but not least, I must thank the most recent donors who purchased the sewing machines and fabric. Without their help, this effort would not have happened:

Mike Zolis, Gordon Johnson, Debbie Murphy, Glen Maclean, Ray Leaman, Barb Doyle, John and Dorothy Doyle, Nicholas Richard, Janet McClusky, Marcus Mccinsky, Virgina Stites, Robert and Cynthia Donovan, Jeffery Withers, Erin Slovitt, Nelson Hum, Charlene Richard, Monique Morin, Shawna Vassallo, Joey Rudy, Leon Turfitt.

Please show your support by donating now:

Good Samaritan Orphan & Needy school
Bunabumali Village.Buwali Parish,Bubiita Sub county,Manjiya county
P O Box 984 Mbale/ Bududa Uganda

Male Number of posts : 19
Age : 39
Location : Mbale / Uganda
Job/hobbies : Orphans and needy Children/helping
Humor : N/A
Registration date : 2008-02-10

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