Posts tagged: Uganda
(Current note: we had a large debrief after this day, which I think is important to separate. Also someday I’ll actually post these for real. This meeting is generally about Heifer (HPI)’s practices.) Read more if you are interested in dairy, sustainability, Africa, artificial insemination, and the Millennium Development Project.
After TASO, which was incredible (and life-changing…) and something I would have loved to spend a whole week learning about, we went back to the hotel for a buffet lunch. The hotel was very close to TASO which was very tempting… I’d love to sneak back out there and ask more and observe more, but I feel like that would be a Bad Call. Maybe next time. After lunch we went to the MADDO (Masaka Dioscesean Development[al?] Organization) Dairy. We toured the plant and bought AMAZING vanilla yoghurt (sh500/ea). Heidi was very sweet and bought me some. We had 2 each, but it was totally worth it. We then returned to the hotel and relaxed, sawm, and showered. I repacked my bag a little bit because it’s gotten a bit too difficult to handle. At 6.30p we had a meeting to debrief the day and talk.
Ted told me today that I should consider going to medical school and becoming a physician. He said that I’m serious, mature, and that I’m hard-working enough to handle it. Hearing that meant so much to me… it’s hard to really express how much. We spoke about it a lot today, and although I’m pretty sure I won’t be going to med school in the too-near future, it was still very nice to hear.
This changed me.
I am now going to write my notes from MADDO. If you’d like to learn more about dairy collectives in Uganda, please feel free to continue.
This is the section of this day we spent at TASO, The AIDS Support Organization. These notes come from information sessions, our questions, and a tour, so might be stilted, but this was the absolute highlight of my trip. I am a huge nerd about this kind of stuff, and I realize not everyone might be, so if you’d like to read more please to click.
I am going to break this day into a few different parts, because we did some incredible things.
Woke up coughing in the night. Left late this morning- around 9a. Leslie got sick and couldn’t come. We picked up 2 others- Suzanne & Wade, from Texas. They just joined us for the morning. We drove to the farm of a woman named Goreth (?), who’s part of a group of HIV-infected and -affected famililes. Goreth is HIV-negative, as are her 6 (!) children. However, her husband was HIV-positive (and was man enough to tell her). He passed away, leaving her with many dependents. She has a cow and a calf, a goat, chickens, and a premanent house. She grows banana, mango, passion fruit hybrids, and marijuana, which they smoke and feed to cows for pain/illness (current note: we were out back by the compost and saw these two suspiciously familiar plants. Familiar odor and look. Someone asked, and the response was “we don’t have a name for it. We smoke it and it has a harsh burn. We give it to the animals when they are sick or in pain and it makes them feel better. I can’t make this up).
The group joined together to build a tree nursery, which was incredible. They had coffee, carrots, beets, border trees, and SO MUCH more. They intend to have all members (30?) with animals by 2015, and intend to buy more animals with sapling profits. They get ~16 cents/sapling. Now they have 10 with cows and 8 with goats. They Pass On the Gift, as well. After, we went to TASO (current note: see next post for TASO and more).
Left Lakeview Regency Hotel to travel towards Masaka. Out of quarantine. Stopped at the Masaka Heifer offices, which were beautiful. One very nice thing about them was that they’re not lavish mansions like so many other NGO offices. We drove out to visit a Women’s Goat Cross-Breeding Project. Stopped along the way for bathroomage which was a bit much for me so I passed (Current note: I can pee anywhere, now. Really. Nothing frightens me).
Arrived at Phoebe’s farm, where we joined a treeplanting training session. They had tons of impressive charts and diagrams about the steps of planting, why trees are important, and many other things. We received mango plants, which we placed, but didn’t get to plant them. However, we then got to plant some border trees (Current note: trees that line the boundary of a field, or a farm. Usually help with soil erosion). It felt amazing to get my hands dirty. There’s been so much deforestation in Uganda (often to make way for banana trees) and the land is now very dry. We were told that Phoebe’s land had been in drought for the past 3 years.
We were shown her goats; she had so many! One just had quadruplets, which will sell for 500k shillings each. She also has several cows. We went into her old house (a typical roundhouse) for food. She has her first house across from her newer, semi-permanent house. She is also gathering a pile of bricks, which she buys each time she sells a goat, to build a permanent home. From the tin roof of the semi-permanent, she collects water run-off into a tank. She received the tank as demonstration project to show the other farmers how it can be done at a lower cost. We ate delicious bananas, watermelon, and pineapple in her hut. (Current note: I can’t believe I didn’t write about this, but someone said a prayer before eating (from our group) that was all about thanking Jesus and I was definitely uncomfy. The things you remember from time in Africa…) As we sat there, it started to rain! Our group felt very much like we’d blessed the rains down in Africa (Current note: I have a mild obsession with that Toto song and it alternated with Under African Skies as the only things stuck in my head the entire time, forgive the reference) but there wasn’t a huge response from the farmers, which made some of us wonder how true it was that they hadn’t even seen rain in years.
We then attended a Passing on the Gift with goats for crossbreeding. The village had set up a mini-store for us to shop. The goods were very beautiful, but a bit expensive (Current note: for me. Not everyone else on the trip was a college kid on scholarship, things were bought). The villagers also crowded us a lot, so everyone mostly felt a bit uncomfortable. We went back tot he bus and traveled to a motel for lunch and a good bathroom. After lunch we made our way to the Tropic Inn, our hotel in Masaka. After checking in, I managed to lock myself in the bathroom (Current note: the lock broke off inside the door, basically. It was a super new hotel that hadn’t been properly constructed, but the bathroom did have a high window facing the hallway… and I am terrified of heights, which will be relevant soon). They got a ladder, Andrew climbed in, and I stood on his shoulders to get out. Trauma. They tried to move me into another room, but it wasn’t done being constructed, so I moved back into our room. We did some yoga and met at 7:30pm for a debrief. We talked about what we’d seen and how it related to our cornerstones. At around 9 we ate dinner. I had Dal Masala. Went back to the room early, watched a movie until I passed out (with my glasses on).
Felt better. Ears clogged, a bit coughy (woke myself up coughing in the night), but generally feeling better.
Current note: in my most recent move to Michigan for grad school, I found the gigstick that has all of Leigh’s pictures from this trip. I will start adding them to posts soon.
Up at 6.15a to leave for Mbarara. Woke up sick. Ate breakfast and got on the bus. Ted quarantined me in the front. Checked into the hotel and ate boxed lunches on the bus (current note: this is the first (and last?) time I ate goat). Drove to Ruhiira Millennium Villages Project (MVP). Visiting a farmer now. Many donkeys, goats, and cows. Moved to the project’s hospital, which had a very impressive laboratory, with many tests offered. However, they don’t have much of a plan for sustainability after MVP ends (5 yr project). Saw a gift ceremony with 40 original Boer (pure) goats being given. Ate local pineapple and watermelon. Went back to the hotel at 7.30p. Ate at outside pavilion, while local dancers performed traditional African dances from different parts of Africa. We were dragged up to dance several times. After they finished, some of us kept dancing for several hours. We tried to learn the “booty dance” (current note: they called it that!), which was a very impressive hip-shaking dance that none of us could really figure out. We kept going until around 10 or 11, at which point i had to go to bed. OUr room’s shower was broken, so I sink-showered.
At the top of this page, I wrote *WRITE MORE ABOUT MPVs* and I didn’t. Now, I work for an NGO that is inextricably tied with the Millennium Development Goals, as their attainment is one of the main goals of the Outcome Document of the UN High-level Meeting in September that I’ve been working. The lack of sustainability in the projects designed to bring the world up to “millennium standards” worries me deeply. To begin, I feel as if the MVPs (at least, the one we saw; I shouldn’t generalize) being unsustainable in any form is a grave disservice to the people that the MDGs intend to aid. Giving a low-income country a service for X amount of years with no intention of making sure it can be carried on after direct aid ends is irresponsible and immoral. One cannot begin a culture of dependence on a service that is in no way able to be carried on by the local infrastructure. Although it’s nice to say (as many people we spoke to in Ruhiira said) that “fundraising is underway” to continue the hospital services after direct aid ends, funding is one of the major battles in any development project. As a whole, I think the MDGs are a wonderful tool, but they must be wielded with precision and care. Otherwise, we will end up with a Millennium World for a few years, and then be stuck watching as it withers and dies, leaving behind empty facilities and dependent populations who have had a taste of what we tell them life should and can be, just to have it taken away from them. Our responsibility is vast, and from what I saw in Uganda, it is not being carried out properly. Whenever the MDGs are mentioned in the Outcome Document, I am nervous, and I can only hope that down the line we will not look back with our collective consciousness and rue the day we adopted these worldwide standards.
Today, we woke up at 5.15 am to go on a game drive at 6a. The warthog we took pictures of last night was eaten by a lion, leaving only bloodstains behind. We had coffee & muffins, then piled into 3 vehicles. Ours- Maia, Leigh, Charlie, Brady, Leslie, Andrew. Our driver Vincent was hilarious and knowledgeable. We saw tons of kob, waterbuck, warthogs, birds, a monkey, elephants, and more! We spent much of the drive trying to see lions, but to no avail. Vincent said it’s because they’re all in church. Iv’e totally lost track of the days of the week… very surreal. We got back at around 11a, and have free time until 4.15p when we’re going on another game drive! Am currently laying in chair on the side of the pool, trying not to sunburn/fall asleep. Swam a few times. Skipped lunch, which might’ve been a mistake… oh well. Back on the bus now… not amazing.
Translated from French:
I’d prefer the Jeep but we didn’t have the choice… There is a problem with the employees of Heifer (current note: perhaps not the best choice of wording?). They don’t use deodorant and the culture is very different. Some of us can’t function, and I understand completely. I’m in the back of the bus now, and it is a bit difficult to write, but our guide is very difficult also! He speaks very quickly, and with a very strong accent. Also, we’re in a repetition of the morning.
Back to English:
The evening game drive was a bit boring. We were in our own bus, which is a bit bumpy and smelly. The guide was hard to hear. We attempted again to find a lion and failed. Returned to the hotel at 7.45p and went to dinner. Our 6 + Kim, Donna, and Heidi. Heidi has been feeling really lonely and left out, so we put real effort into finding and inviting her for dinner. For yet another night, our conversation turned very dark. I wonder if the kind of people who’re drawn to support Heifer are incapable of having lighthearted conversation in larger groups. One-on-one, usually, we’re fine, but we all seem to have interests, experiences, and knowledge about some rather depressing topics such as homelessness and drugs. After dinner we went outside to sit by the fire. There were not many bugs, which was nice. We cut up the jack fruit from Kasese and ate it. It was sliced into chunks which are split apart to reveal seeds encased in meat. There’s also stringy parts surrounding them. You pull out the pod with the seed, and eat around the seed. It is very very very sticky. We sat outside and waited for the hippo but it never came. Huge thunderstorms.
Stayed with a family in Kasese. Family had 2 parents 2 children? 27 year old male S’elly was English translator.
Sososo awkward. Lots of being stared at. They were being incredibly gracious. They fed me so much that I couldn’t eat. Lunch at Kisinga was intense. Matooke (banana mash), g-nut sauce (current note: I never got the full name of this, but it tastes like thin, grainy peanut butter. It’s purple-ish.), sweet & irish potato, chicken, pumpkin, a green vegetable, beans, and even more. Dinner was MORE of the same. I’m burnt out on Ugandan food.. I asked S’elly for a bit of each, very very little, and got HUGE amounts of g-nuts, cabbage, rice, potatoes, goat, the veg, etc. My stomach was so full it hurt! I had to give my bowl back full. I felt awful and wanted to cry. I was ashamed to have not finished. I felt ungrateful, but too physically ill to handle any more eating. They asked me many questions, often about the weather and education in the USA. S’elly has welding training and works in it. He completed primary school but hopes to get to secondary school once he gets married. His father Thomas used to be a miner. his mother, Micheline, seemed so sad in every photograph I saw of her. They had a large family photo album, and we showed albums and S’elly explained my photographs to those who didn’t speak English (aka most of them…). After several hours of sitting around, I grew really exhausted. I went to bed around 10.45pm. The room was very nice (bigger than Billy’s room @ 3550! [current note: this is a reference to my then-boyfriend’s former apartment, in which he had a very small room. Traveler’s eyes.]) with a locking door. Heifer provided sheets & mosquito nets, and the bed was very nice. They gave me a lamp, too. It was a bit difficult to go to sleep, as the family had a radio that they loved to blast. One of the little girls was dancing to it for hours. I got many comments about my dancing at the festival. Apparently I danced like one of the local women. I’m incredibly proud of that.
In the morning I woke to someone sweeping the yard for hours. Then there was a howling dog, a rooster, and a radio attack of DOOM. I hid out a little, then S’elly came to get me. When I arrived, I was told “you bathe now”. I told them no, and they told me the water was already heated. In awkwardness and confusion, I ran to Wendy (two houses down; Kim stayed in the house between) to ask what to do. Wendy told me to basically hooker shower (current note: this is my wording, not hers), so I awkwardly washed my legs & arms, armpits & crotch, all while remaining at least 50% clothed. You mix hot & cold water in a basin that’s resting on rocks. There’s a cup for rinsing, a clothesline, and not much privacy. I guiltily poured out some of the water on the rocks so they didn’t feel that I didn’t bathe. Did the same thing in the morning. There’s a separate place for pee & shit; one is just a pile of rocks semi-covered by woven leaves and the other is a hole in the ground in a small hut. The kitchen is a dark, smoky hut separate from the house. They have a foot-pumped tap for hand washing and a tip-tap (?) for drying dishes.
There is a zero-grazing goat pen with 2 goats. They have a kitchen garden where they grow vegetables. They also grow coffee ($$), vanilla, avocado, jack fruit, pineapple, mango, and feed for the goats. They gave me 2 pineapples when I left, possibly in response to Wendy & Ted’s family, who gave them a huge jackfruit and a bag of avocados. Breakfast was tea/coffee with banana, hard-boiled egg, bread, and roasted g-nuts. Wendy & Ted rescued me early so I started tea w/ them, and then Micheline appeared with more. We gave our bundles of gifts to our hosts, and got on the bus. We picked everyone up and each person gave a bundle to their hosts. We were told to give them to Mama. I did notice that Thomas was mentioned as the head of the family each time, but doesn’t Micheline own the goats??
We finally gathered everyone by about 10:30 (?) and left for Mweya Lodge in QENP (current note: Queen Elizabeth National Park). We arrived around 12, checked in, and got to our rooms (9). At 1 we ate lunch. I was SO sick of Ugandan food, so I ordered a hamburger. We had a meeting at 3.30, so in-between I washed out my clothes and showered. At the meeting we went over our cornerstones (current note: there are cornerstones of the Heifer ideology. We were each assigned one to think about/discuss at meetings. Mine was “genuine need and justice”.), Wendy attempted conflict resolution, which was interesting. At 4.30 we left for a boat cruise on the Kazinga channel, which connects Lakes George and Edward. We saw countless hippos, cape buffalo, elephants, crocodiles, and SO many birds.
After our return, many of us went for a swim, then showered and changed for the dinner buffet. Our room was so buggy! They spray bomb the rooms each night, so we hid our clothes in the closet. The walk to dinner felt like we were inhaling bugs with each step. Had to eat inside. Afterwards, we went to sit outside around the firepit (bugs hate the smoke). At around 10.30p, we hear a loud rustling and then a crashing. A hippo came up and started grazing all around us. We followed it around the property for the next few hours. Apparently the hippo’s territory includes our hotel. On our way to bed we snapped a few photos of a resting warthog. We got back to the room and spent a bunch of time cleaning the dead bugs out of the bathroom/our beds. The mosquito nets here are strange- like hospital curtains. They surround the beds/vanity and end by the windows.
This entry is a little bit more jumbled, with language notes and asides. I will do my best to transcribe it.
Wabukyrie (Wah-boh-CHEEreh)= How are you? Pronounced slowly moving downhill.
Wah-sin-JA-yeh= thank you.
Bukyaye (Booh-KAI-yeh)= goodbye.
Honey for sale.
This was written the day after, in a reflection, translated from French.
We left the hotel. The trip wasn’t terrible; there were other cars for the baggage. We have crossed the Equator.
I bought something for my mother. We ate in a hotel where we’ll be staying in the future. The food was traditional. I love Tabasco Sauce. There were problems between some members of the group about the subject of appropriate conversation for when one is in public. Tensions were, and are still high. Our new hotel is mediocre. Brady’s luggage is missing.
List of animals seen to date:
Cows- Holstein, Ankole
African Forest Hog
Translated from French:
We are in the bus to visit a Heifer chilling plant. There is so much traffic here! It’s incredible and sometimes it is a bit annoying, but what can you do?
I have taken some photographs, but it is very difficult on the bus. We are travelling maybe 180km? I don’t know. There are many advertisements for HIV and AIDS health, but not many for contraception.
We have to remember why we do what we do. We get bogged down in the daily business of being us and lose our overall sense of purpose. Sometimes i’t snot easy to take that step back and refresh your sense of self and purpose, but even the act of thinking and planing what one must do is helpful.
This has been one of the most incredible, inspiring days of my life. Seeing what a person who started out with literally almost nothing can do with one change; one cow, is… surreal. The fact that one cow can so deeply change and impact so many lives is amazing. Here in Uganda it’s easy to see the process and effects of trickle-down economics. With one cow, Lidya supports herself, 3 kids, an AIDS orphan… the list goes on. She also has hired employees.
This is Lidya.
This is Grace.
Dairy Cooperative Visit- “It’s so great to love us before we even knew you”- Cooperative Chairwoman. “Our vision is coming true”.
Translated from French:
The evolution from an organisation into a cooperative. The vision of a center of commerce Markets. They needed to find a market. The women are very active in the cooperative. A CPO is not an NGO.
Began with 100 families. Now have 600 members in the cooperative. Intensive mobilization, school. More people; there are not a lot of “drop outs” today.
The biggest achievement is the price of milk.
Learned from others like EADD (East African Dairy Development), etc.
Social thinking -> commercial thinking.
- Animals for status -> make money with it -> infrastructure. Potential for transformation. Have made 12 million shillings in 3 months -> $6000 USD.
The children here are beautiful. They’re funny, and friendly, and so quick to smile.
Seeing Brady holding hands with a 5 year old boy was just great… I’m running out of adjectives for this experience today.
I was literally brought to tears during the Co-op meeting in West Kibonga. The roads are an experience as well, but a very different kind.
Genuine need and justice.
The toilet at dinner was interesting; a porcelain hole in the ground to squat over and pray you won’t miss and get your pants. I didn’t. Sitting in the front of the bus is so much more pleasant than the back. Tomorrow we check out of Speke (our amazingly luxurious resort in Munayoyo) and drive ~8hrs, over the Equator, to our next stop. Our luggage is coming with us. This will be incredibly unpleasant, but I’m hoping for the best.
There are many schools here named “New Hope”. This is a dry season. Everything is lush and green. It’s hard to imagine how amazing Uganda must be in a wet season. They have 2/year. When asked to pick the most interesting thing so far, I really struggled.
I wonder how different things would be if we had any black, or non-white group members.
Democratic Republic of the Congo- 38km.