Friday, May 13, 2011


A picture of the Lugazi team the morning of arrival!

Uganda is a tropical paradise.  It is right on the equator but high enough in elevation that it is perfect in temperature and humidity…well it’s a little hot.  But it’s not that bad, really.  It is far different from the savannah cliché most normally associated with Africa.  Uganda is very lush and green with rainforest everywhere.  It’s a beautiful country!

We are working in a town called Lugazi, which is some 40 miles east of the capital city, Kampala.  The population of this town is somewhere between 39,000-40,000 people.  By the looks of it, there is a lot of work to be done in this community for the elimination of poverty. 

Although English is the official language of Uganda, it is much less common than I had expected.  For most Ugandans, English is their second language, with their first being Lugandan.  Lugandan is the language most widely spoken and most people seem to get a big kick out of us white guys trying to speak it.

Every morning when we leave the house we are greeted by a mob of little children chanting, “Muzungu! Muzungu! Muzungu!” which means, “white people.”  It’s pretty adorable at first but after walking three or four blocks and little children are still popping out of the woodwork to join in the chanting, it gets pretty ridiculous!  I feel like a celebrity who doesn’t want the attention.  However, the Ugandan people are extremely friendly.  They are very excited to have us work with them to solve some problems not only in Lugazi but also in the surrounding towns and villages.  Here's Kirk fetching some water the Ugandan way in a small village we visited this week.

This first week has been spent in meeting after meeting with community leaders and heads of local nonprofits and NGOs.  We want to collaborate with them on their projects so that we can invest our human capital in sustainable, worthwhile projects that will really make a difference in Lugazi.  We want them to show us which projects will help them the most.  This weekend we will be making decisions as to which projects we want to pursue and which might not be best for community development.  So far, it looks like I might be starting a piggery and then I’m hoping to find a small village which would be best for a TOMS Shoes shoe drop.

Of course, prepping for all the work, we spent last Saturday seeing the source of the Nile River.  The Nile originates in Uganda, flowing north out of Lake Victoria.  The big stone thing is the exact spot where they begin counting the length of the Nile.  On the left of that stone block is Lake Victoria; on the right is the Nile River.  And you can swim in it too!

Mind the Gap

The big journey commenced last Wednesday morning (May 4, 2011) when me and a few other volunteers, including my good friend Kirk, flew out of Salt Lake City to Chicago, where we boarded an overnight flight to London.  After chowing down some airplane food and a few sleeping pills, we finally arrived Thursday morning to gray skies in beautiful London where we enjoyed a 12 hour layover.  We hurried to get through customs so we could hop on “the tube” so I could get my first glimpse of Europe.

After touring the downtown area seeing Big Ben, the House of Parliament, Westminster Abby, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, and Piccadilly Circus (and experiencing London’s finest fish n’ chips), it was back to London Heathrow Airport for a power nap before boarding yet another red eye flight from London to Nairobi, Kenya. 

Friday morning we arrived in Nairobi airport and then finally on to our final destination: Entebbe, Uganda!  After our final flight we were greeted in the airport by our Country Directors, Ari and Jesse.  They arrived here a few weeks ago and have been busy setting up meetings with potential partners, finding a house for us to live in and cooks to make us dinner every night.