Weebale my friends.

Favorite3

Thanks a million!!

 

Oli otya, How are you?

I can’t believe it is here. The last morning sitting in my favorite spot, the city still mostly quiet except for those early rising roosters, watching the sun begin to peek through the clouds on the east horizon. It is cool again this morning, the blessing that comes after rain in this gorgeous part of the world.

I will keep the blog up for a few weeks and then it will quietly disappear. Thanks to those that have been following. Have you learned a bit about Uganda by looking through my eyes? Could you see my heart for the people I love here?

Now I can’t believe I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face, Oh, yes I can. Just ask my family. It was two years ago when this process began,. Thanks to my dear friend, Patrick, who wrote the letter of invitation starting the process to receive sabbatical, He has provided the apartment while here and I am  forever grateful. I am indebted to my dear friends and colleagues, Tom and Stephanie, for covering for me at the university. I have missed them and will be ready to get back on the team.They are treasures!

Thanks to Carly, Timba and Ceasar for putting up with me, traveling with me and making me feel wanted and loved  over so many weeks. The conversations, meals and laughter are imprinted on my heart! You are all amazing, talented young people and I wish God’s best for all of you!

I still have work to do, projects and papers to finish, reports to write, but they will come in due time. I have done my very best to NEVER TAKE FOR GRANTED each beautiful and precious day I have had here. I am so blessed. Let me close with some of my favorite pictures.

Weebale. Thank you!

Favorite8

NIna – you will be missed in Uganda but Texas will love you!

Favorite2

The children of the Rwenzoris.

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The children of Kikandwa

Favorite9

Ceasar at his finest – helping a tiny one get her water.

Favorite5

I had to include a couple of safari pics so you would know I saw more than the leopard.

Favorite6

Look very carefully at his feet.. sorry the croc is a bit blurry.

Favorite1

No better way to close my blog than with a hug…

 

Ceasar.Max.Genevieve.

It is a rare cool windy late afternoon here in Uganda. The sky is gray and the clouds are moving quickly across the sky. My time in Uganda is almost over and with it the blogs. Only two remain, today’s I have reserved for three more very special people that have each played a role in my life.

Ceasar

Ceasar

Let me begin with Ceasar. He has been my driver. But that comes no where to a complete description. He has also been my bodyguard, Luganda language instructor, grocery cart driver, bookbag carrier and more than anything else, my friend! We have laughed over many meals at our favorite restaurant, Cafe Java and had great conversations about life along the roads of Uganda. We have enjoyed pampering at Sparkles and he has patiently listened to me whine about city traffic. Thanks for keeping me safe, getting me places on time, waiting for me when needed and being a bright light during my weeks here! You are amazing!!

Max

Max

Next is Max. Max is the gate keeper. I can’t imagine a job waiting for someone to arrive at the gate but he has made me feel safe as I come and go from this apartment. Thanks for the constant smile and the trust and safety I feel with you downstairs.

Genevieve

Genevieve

Last but not least, is Genevieve. She is our housekeeper. What a joy it has been to come home to a clean house with today’s laundry on the line and yesterday’s ironed and put away. A few days I have been home when she has come to clean and we have had the most fascinating conversations. She is a woman of strong faith and often can be heard singing gospel songs as she cleans. Thanks for making my life so much simpler!

Francis & Beckham

Today I was in Kikandwa once again. Several years ago we met this precious little boy named Beckham. A busy rural road is all that separates his little home from KIkandwa Health Center. He and his mother often attend the events we have been part of over the years.

It was a big day for me today. Beckham finally met one of the people I most respect and admire in Uganda, Francis Kamuhanda. Let me first tell you a bit about Francis. He is not a high level government official or powerful wealthy entrepreneur but I think he is one of the most amazing people I know in this beautiful land. He is the headmaster of a primary school called Sure Prospects. He has a unique sustainable model of engaging and integrating children with special needs with those without. When I asked him this morning how many were at his primary school this term the answer was 530. Of that number, 180 have special needs such as blind, deaf, missing limbs, Down Syndrome, Autism and more. Here is what is so special about this school. Often in Uganda, there is stigma attached to those with special needs, indeed even at times, it is a death sentence. They are often hid away or put in institutions. At his school you do not find that at all. All the teachers and children learn sign language, they assist each other, laugh together, play together. It is beautiful to see.  So I was thrilled to ride with Francis this morning to Kikandwa to meet Beckham.

This beautiful boy is the ninth in his family and his mother is struggling to raise him alone after his father left them. Beckham has a contagious smile and captivating giggle but has significant special needs. When I asked Francis to travel with me, he obliged and brought a teacher with him. They spent some time with Beckham, evaluating him, playing with him. The tender way Francis interacted with Beckham brought tears to my eyes. You see, I expected that of my friend, Francis, and he did not let me down. Francis says the first thing he needs is an eye exam and perhaps glasses from Mengo Hospital. Then a visit to an orthopedic specialist near Entebbe will be in order. Beckham’s mother will be taught to help him to walk and complete other small tasks. My hope and dream and prayer is that one day very soon he will be ready for just the right school, hopefully Sure Prospects.

 

Beckham, Francis & Beckham's mom

Beckham, Francis & Beckham’s mom

 

Francis & Beckham

Francis & Beckham

Sunday Stovetop Snacks.

Two blogs in one day. Impressive. I just could not wait to show you what I made on this lazy Sunday afternoon.

You may recall that the oven is not functioning and using a gas stove has been quite the learning experience. But today I attempted making cookies on the stove top. Thanks to my sister-in-law Susan for introducing me years ago to baking cake mix cookies. We had a cake mix imported from the US so why not try?

Carly and Timba say they are good. Timba had his with blue icing icing. I must agree they turned out pretty nicely. It really was quite simple. So the next time you find yourself on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a cake mix, 2 eggs and 1/3 cup cooking oil and only a gas stove top for cooking, I highly recommend!

Enjoy!

Cookies1Cookies2Cookies3

 

Potholes and Progress.

Sorry that I have been off the grid a couple of days, but I am back. Yesterday we were back in the village again. Carly and Sandra launched their NGO!!! More about that tomorrow.

The 1 ½ hour drive each way gives me time to ponder…

Potholes… It is pothole season back home. After the freeze and thaw, freeze and thaw over the months of winter those annoying holes just seem to appear.  They begin innocently enough but can seemingly grow overnight into craters. By the time I return home, the attack to fill them will have commenced. Now they say there are sometimes potholes that can swallow a small car but I don’t ever remember being a witness to that spectacle, at home.

But here… well I will close with some pictures today telling the story. But in the meantime, let me explain a bit more. Most are not actually potholes in the traditional sense we think of at home but rather a creeping erosion from the edges aided by the torrential rains. Sometimes it is to the point the tarmac (asphalt to my American friends) is gone and what remains is the red clay soil. You can be so innocently heading down the road at 80kph and then the brakes squeal at the sight of red soil just around the bend.

But first, let me remind you of all that manages to share Ugandan roads; cars, of course, 14-passenger ‘taxis’ often loaded with twenty or more, huge intra-country buses, lorries, cattle trucks, smaller pickups and the incredible number of massive petrol carriers. Just beginning the list….  also, there are boda-bodas, (small transport motorcycles), bikes, people, cows, goats, dogs, wandering chicken and yes, in places, lazy baboons. No wonder I don’t drive here and admire the drivers that do so. Other than the fact that they drive on the left side of the road, I am certain the first time behind the wheel one of the above would meet its demise.

Oh, but the real fun is… construction… The road between here and Kikandwa is under construction and seems to have been for years. The highlight when you delay are the entrepreneurial men and women dressed in pink lab coats running for your vehicle laden with muchomo, fried bananas, g-nuts and assorted drinks. It is so hard to explain construction with my words. So I will end with pictures as they tell it much better than I ever could.

The potholes!

The potholes!

The cattle trucks.

The cattle trucks!

Construction

Construction

Construction

Construction

and more construction.

and more construction.

The baboon.

The baboon.

and of course, the snacks as you wait!

and of course, the snacks as you wait!

 

Here Kitty Kitty.

Oh my goodness! Guess what I saw last week? I can’t believe I have not told you!

I have been on about twenty safaris. Some time ago I lost count. I have been on safari in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. I have sat mesmerized as a lion killed and dined with her son on a kob (small antelope), watched a hyena saunter past the front left bumper of our safari van. I have admired giraffes, zebras, and even visited a white rhino sanctuary.  I have been witness to the thievery of baboons and even blushed at the sight of mating elephants. I have been in awe of massive hippos and elusive crocodiles at the great Nile waters’ edge but not quite seen it all…. Until last week.

Now, for the benefit of my Drake colleagues traveling with me to this beautiful land who have heard me whine over the years about this failure, my retort was always, if this happens, I need never return! I thought I could take for granted it would NEVER happen. Even when taking students on safari, my quip was, “Don’t ride in my safari van if you want to see a…… leopard!” You see others had been on the same safari in other vans and viewed this most magnificent but secretive feline but not me.

But it happened this year! Now Murchison Falls National Park is by far my favorite spot for safari and we were at Queen Elizabeth National Park so it will now have  a special place in my memory! Not only did I see the beautiful cat up very close, not three feet from it on another limb of the tree was its dinner, a freshly caught dead kob. He must have been taking a late afternoon nap before a late evening dinner.

I will close by letting pictures tell the rest of the story. Oh, and to my friends and family, I will hopefully once more be back!!!

Leopard3Leopard1Leopard2

Tick.Tock.Time……

So today I had two meetings that did not happen. They were scheduled – or so I thought. Not sure why the miscommunication. I won’t go into the details as to when or with whom. That is not important to my conversation. Why does it bother me when that happens? One of the things I like most about Uganda is the slower pace and lack of obsession with the time of day. Without their cell phones most Ugandans just might not know the exact time but would have a relative idea.

That is okay as the day is planned by events not timetables. Let me explain what I mean. If a meeting is scheduled for ten that means sometime in the morning. Terms are used such as midday or late day. Now I think midday should be high noon – but not necessarily so. And late day – no idea exactly when that might be. Remember the saying “to be on time is ten minutes early”?  Not so much.

Please do not get me wrong. After fourteen trips I absolutely realize it is the culture and I accept that… except when I happens to me… So let me ponder why….

Traffic – unpredictable to put it mildly. Now that school is back in session the traffic in the city has multiplied. Jams are common. I am used to getting across town in twenty minutes back home with little variation except in bad weather or after an accident. Parents may travel quite a distance to drop off and pick up a child which compounds their already complicated schedules.

Rain – everything grinds to a halt until the cloud burst passes.

That explains late but still doesn’t account for ‘not at all’. I have learned that simply it is the way it is. Now I have some colleagues that have adopted the idea of schedules, confirmations and punctuality. But they just may be the exception.

So to my very esteemed colleagues, I adore you and please bear with me when my culture bumps head on with yours. I really am trying. I must know what not to take for granted.

Trek in Time.

Well it is finally time to share the story of the Batwa Pygmies’ Island.

On the far side of Lake Bunyonyi, at the crest of one of the larger islands is a settlement of Batwa pygmies.This group of indiginous people dwelt for generations with the gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in the southwest corner of Uganda. But in 1992, Bwindi became a national park, a refuge for the endangered gorilla, and the Batwa were evicted from their homeland. With no place to go, many died but some settled on the top of this remote island on Lake Bunyonyi. As hunters and gatherers, this new home was a drastic contrast to the home they had known. In many ways, this group has been frozen in time. We met a man carrying a hand-made bow returning from a hunt for small animals.

On the beautiful afternoon of our stay on Itambira Island we were offered a boat ride. Our guide asked if we wanted to go to Pygmy Island. With no idea what we were about to head to, we readily agreed! In some ways, a HUGE mistake, in other ways a most remarkable experience. After many minutes peacefully coasting on the glass water we arrived at a wobbly dock and disembarked. That should have been my first clue.

Moses - the dock

Our greeters as we began the trek to see the Batwa Pygmies.

Here is where Moses comes into the story. Arriving with his rod – he was ready to lead me to the promised land. Now, Moses is not a Batwa, as you may recall he lives just around the bend. We began our trek – straight up!! My son would have been so proud of me, except for the whining, likely reminiscent of those following Moses of the Old Testament. A good thirty minutes of laughing, whining, stop and go, and yes, even a brief stop in which I emphatically exclaimed, “I can’t go one step farther.” Patiently, Moses took my arm, steadying me and perhaps even dragging me, proclaiming over and over that we were almost there, not bad for 11. At times I did feel 100 (see previous blog). But what we saw at the crest of the hill was absolutely worth the effort. A land frozen in time. Sadly though, they were used to those journeying to their resettled home and quickly brought out their cloth bags with bracelets and other hand-crafted souvenirs.

Pygmy4

The children and the souvenirs.

As we walked around the little plot of land, the lack was apparent; clothes, shoes, doors, beds, shade, food, many of what we call the basic needs.

Pygmy1

Little Ones.

Pygmy3

Home.

They performed a dance to entertain us before settling beside their handmade goods for sale. We had brought very few Uganda shillings along but gave what we could.

Pygmy5

The Batwa Pygmy Dance Troupe.

We were not there long and as I began the long trek back down I began to reflect. We take for granted so many of the basic needs. Even when we whine and complain that we don’t have enough, we really do have it easy.

IMG-20160227-WA0023

The trek back down. It really is much steeper than it looks….

If that had been the place I was destined to live my life, could I? Could you? Would I? Would you?

Seeds of Hope.

I think I may have just traveled to the ‘ends of the earth’ this past week. Lake Bunyonyi, a crater lake, second deepest in Africa at an estimated 900+ m (6400 ft.) . It consists of twenty-nine islands, sits at an elevation of over 6000 feet and is 4 miles by 15 miles of finger-like inlets with islands dotting the water. Close by is the land of the gorillas nearly touching the border of Rwanda.

It is breath-taking…  glass waters, hilly islands of every shade of green, ethereal mist resting on the water, thatched roof huts and terraced gardens dotting the steep hillsides, paradise… mostly untouched by time.

As you first enter on the red dirt road there are a number of resorts but we were surprised to discover our destination was only to be reached by boat as we headed for the dock to climb on board for the fifteen minute boat ride to Itambira Island. Once there we were greeted by Sally and her team from Seeds of Hope. They are an NGO working to educate the people of the many islands using their small retreat as a means of sustainability.

The food was delicious the hospitality wonderful and the silence overwhelming. We wished we could stay for days!!!! I highly recommend it if you want absolute peace and quiet! I will conclude today’s post with some pictures of paradise. Tomorrow, Moses and the island of the pygmies.

Seed of Hope 1

Kampala South Rotary.

Good evening. It has been a wonderful day with another trip to Kikandwa. Before you wake tomorrow I will have the next chapter of Moses, Lake Bunyoni and the pygmies posted but in the meantime I want to post pictures from our health center in Kikandwa. A huge debt of thanks to Kampala South Rotary for your amazing partnership at Kikandwa Health Center. A large number of the team were at the center today for a day of nutrition education, examinations and immunizations. I am SO grateful that I can take for granted their love and support and commitment to KHC!!! Enjoy – I will be back later!
KHC 2-27 2 KHC 2-27 3 KHC 2-27 4 KHC 2-27 5 KHC 2-27 6 KHC 2-27 7 KHC 2-27 8 KHC 2-27 9 KHC 2-27 10

Meet My Moses.

Well I am back from my amazing travel to the western side of Uganda and I have so much to share over the next few days!

Today I want you to meet my Moses! Why he is MY Moses will be part of the story of the visit to the pygmies but you will need to be patient – that story comes later….

Raise your hand if you ever had to ride the bus to school! Now keep it up if you hated it like I did! Thankfully, it was for a short time and my big sister kept me safe in the dark while we waited at the bottom of the hill. We could take for granted, rain or snow, warm or cold, that big yellow bus would come to a grinding halt and we would climb on board. My kids were lucky, they lived close enough to walk and would find a ride on those miserable Midwest winter days.MY Moses

But this is not my story – it is Moses’s day. Here is Moses. I met him yesterday at Lake Bunyonyi, the most amazing,untouched place on earth! More on that later too. This is Moses’ story. Moses is 11. I asked him. He asked me how old I am, not realizing it is really not that polite of a question. I laughed when he asked and he said “100”? I just laughed again. He has two sisters and four brothers. Moses

Moses Village

Moses’ Village

is in Primary Five (5th grade).  This is the village where Moses lives. It is on the banks of one of the many islands on one of the deepest lakes in the world. Yes, an island. Moses has never left the group of islands. There is a small town, Kabale, just eight kilometers away but he has not been there. That means he has never driven in a car on a paved street. Each day he climbs barefoot into his school boat. The children go to the few 

School boat.

School boat

schools scattered across the islands by boat. The sun takes its time rising above the hilly islands so the boats begin heading across the glassy water about 8:30 in the morning. They head back to the little clusters of homes dotted on the hills of the islands about five in the evening. What amazed me, and in fact brought me to tears, was his school. I will tell more about it in the pygmies’ story but let me show you using a couple of pictures. Clay walls, one chalk board, handmade bencheMoses' Schools. Now, this is the Primary One classroom but Moses’ was very similar. Where were the shiny desks, white boards, TV and DVD player and projection system, the maps, the games, the BOOKS??? I told him I lived in the United States and asked him if he had seen it on a map. He has never seen a woMoses' School2rld map. just one of Uganda. Moses is incredibly intelligent, speaks English quite well and has big dreams. I asked someone about teachers for this remote part of the world and was told that often teachers that are not strong academically end up in the remote areas. From what I read on the chalkboard, the Primary One teaching is doing his or her very best! Moses melted my heart. I asked him what he wanted to do one day. His response was “a doctor”. That means someone needs to be there for him all the way through secondary school and his parents will not ask him to stop so he can tend the garden. He will need to pass the tests for university. How will he learn biology and chemistry? He will have to compete against the students from the city schools and private schools for a government scholarship to university. He wants to become a doctor and come back to take care of the people of his village. I know full well the odds are not in his favor and I wish he could take for granted the opportunities most of the young people I know can but he is strong and smart and I wish him the very best and pray that God gives him the desire of his heart!! More on MY Moses later……

Kenai Has Arrived.

Kenai arrived today. He is Carly’s four month old puppy and ADORABLE! Today’s blog will be a pictorial of this handsome boy! Oh, and don’t worry if there are no blog posts for the next few days. I promise more for those still reading over the weekend at the latest!!

I really do have gorgeous eyes! I just need a haircut!

Sharon had been watching me and will miss me!!

Sharon had been watching me and will miss me!!

Mom – my size 4 sweater is already too small. May I have a size 8 please?

The patio is my favorite place - just like Deb!!

The patio is my favorite place – just like Deb!!

Clouds.Thunder.Rain.

I put on a sweater this afternoon! It has been four weeks since my arrival to Uganda and the first time I needed a sweater.

Catchment Tanks

Catchment Tanks

Why? Four weeks later it has finally rained! The clouds started to build in the usually cloudless sky, the thunder began to roar and then it rained! It is as if a catchment tank in the sky had been filling up for weeks and this afternoon the bottom fell out!

Rain 2Rain is precious here. In a land where more than 90% of the country relies on agriculture, rain matters. We take for granted our four distinct season but here at the equator the seasons are two – rainy and dry. The farmers say the patterns are changing and they can no longer take for granted when the rains will come and this is of great concern. Also, it seems as if each time I have been here when it rains, it pours. Not the gentle rains of Midwest summers that nourish the crops – the rain today as most days came in a torrent and ended much too soon. It is rain that stops traffic and causes everyone to dash for cover.Rain 1

So for now, as the we head into late afternoon it is surprisingly cool. The dust has settled for a while and the catchment tanks have filled back up a bit. It has been a nice change….

UNO.Dos.Tres.

Today’s blog will be quite brief. It will be another day sipping tea from the balcony patio, working on my computer, playing UNO with Carly and Timba, NTV news coverage streaming in the background.

UNO – For those of you following progress, Timba has taken a substantial lead in our UNO competition. Timba – 18, Carly – 14 and Deb – 10. I really need to step up my game….

DOS – A two man race. The election has boiled down to two candidates. The main opposition candidate, Besigye, has been removed from multiple locations by police multiple times in the past few days. The final results are due today at 4 pm. President Museveni has a substantial lead.  It has been quite interesting and I can take for granted it will continue to be as the day progresses.

TRES – Day three of being sequestered here in this lovely little apartment.

Stay posted…..

Ugandan ‘Snow Day’.

Yesterday was a ‘snow day’. You know, one of those times when  the media warns you that tomorrow you will need to stay put so you stock up from half-empty shelves at the grocery store on the way home, ready to hunker down.  Then the next day when you are stuck at home, you sleep in, then just putter around trying to find things to do. Maybe it is catching up on a project, maybe reading that book that has been on the shelf too long or catching up on all the Hallmark movies you recorded on Tivo,.But you can take for granted that by late in the day you want out, need out, begin to feel trapped.

That was yesterday and will be today. Now, let me clear things up. It did not actually snow here – not sure if it ever has except for on the magnificent  Rwenzori mountains on the far west side. You may recall, it was election day. For much of the day we were shut off from the rest of the world with no Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Internet or Satellite TV. It felt much like a snow day. The US embassy cautioned us to stay at home and we obliged. Timba did venture out to vote – twice, The first time there were not ballots. The second time – success.

So how did we spend our ‘snow day? Very well, I would say. Pancakes and bacon for a late morning breakfast, computer work, a short nap, fried chicken strips and mashed potatoes (all from scratch) for an early dinner and an evening of UNO topped off with a dish of ice cream. We have decided to keep a running tally of wins over the next few weeks. Here are the current standings: Carly – 4, Timba – 3, Deb – 2. I started slow but finished strong. We are competitive! Oh, and we are playing by South African rules. Maybe that was I started out slow – I kept learning new rules as I went along,. But no excuses or whining….. I will update you periodically on the standings. Day two is just beginning. We shall see what it brings….

Wishing you a wonderful Friday and hoping for a snow day for you if you need one!

Refreshed.Renewed.Ready.

Cup of Tea and Computer

A cup of tea and my computer – life is good.

I really had every intention of writing my blog this morning over my morning cup of tea but time escaped from me and here it is, though late in my day, perhaps still time for morning tea for you. Night falls quickly here just as the morning sun seems to rise so quickly so I will try to write before it gets too dark here on my patio (my favorite place). The first few days it was instant coffee but now the days begin with a cup of African tea (tea, tea masala and milk). If you want to try it when I get home let me know. I will have the tea masala.

It is election eve but for today, business as usual. Carly and I worked until mid-afternoon as we usually do, then went with Timba for a delicious late afternoon lunch at a restaurant I had not been to before. We capped the afternoon with some indulgence at Sparkles Saloon. Now, lest you think we were drinking mid-afternoon, in the states we would call it Salon. I find it funny how they add the extra letter. Carly and I each had a mani-pedi while Timba had a cut and shave. Then we ended with a brief stop at Nakumatt to prepare for potential hibernation the next few days before heading home.

I thought today I would answer the Most Frequently Asked Questions. Now that may mean just one or two people have asked as I don’t have that many readers but still let me indulge.

  1. Why Uganda for sabbatical? Iowa winters…. enough said. Okay, maybe a bit more of an explanation. You see, I go nonstop. Ask my daughter, sisters, colleagues or friends. They can take for granted that I will be busy, probably too busy. I LOVE all the incredible roles I get to play from teacher, to center director, to board member but they result in packed days. I needed to rest! Here is how Webster describes sabbatical. “A period of time during which someone does not work at his or her regular job and is able to rest, travel, do research”. That is what I am doing. I want to come back refreshed, renewed and ready to pick up where I left off. Besides, I LOVE Uganda. The country, the people and my friends here have a special place in my heart.
  2. Who are Carly and Timba that you always refer to? Excellent question. Carly is a former student that lives and works here in Uganda. She came to Uganda three times with me while a student at Drake and fell in love with the country. Okay, and perhaps a wonderful young man named Timba. Timba is a fitness trainer. Let me describe each of them… Carly is adventurous, generous-hearted, intelligent and absolutely a sweetheart! Timba is brave, intelligent, handsome and absolutely a gentleman! They are treating me with such kindness!

Keep sending your questions!

The sun has set, the lights of the far hills of the city are glimmering. Time to go in before the mosquitoes decide I am  late-evening dinner.

Peace.Prosperity.Prayer.

Good morning. It is another day of bright sun here is the pearl of Africa. I am grateful for the breeze that blows between the patio and kitchen door. At home I take for granted my oven, microwave and stove but here I am getting much better at using a stove top only. Pancakes from scratch, no Bisquick mix this morning! They were delicious with my cup of tea and glass of juice while sitting on the patio enjoying the early morning sun. Life is good.

Today is a new national holiday here, just announced last week, so offices, the university and government offices are closed! It is honoring the late Bishop Janani Luwum. Here is a bit about him from one of the local newspapers, The New Vision“In May 1974, Bishop Janani Luwum succeeded his mentor Archbishop Erica Sabiti. Bishop Janani Luwum became the second African Archbishop of the Province of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire; and the second Bishop of Kampala Diocese. On February 16, 1977, Archbishop Janani Luwum was martyred at Nakasero by the regime of President, Gen Idi Amin Dada.”

This country has a deep history of both peace and conflict, of being ruled and self-rule. Two days from now this country will be conducting presidential and high level government elections. This happens once every five years and President Museveni has been in power for the past thirty.

On Sunday, to a packed house, the minister talked about the role of citizens in elections. He did not tell them how to vote but using scripture that they needed to vote and why.

There is uncertainty, even fear regarding the future of this beautiful country, so full of untapped potential. I would like to close with one of the scriptures from Sunday. Please pardon me for changing the words so slightly. I hope you will understand.

“Pray for the peace of Uganda. May all who love this country prosper. O Uganda, may there be peace within your walls and prosperity in your government, homes and businesses.  This I ask for the sake of all  my friends who live here.  Psalm 122:6-8 TLB (word in italics changed)

May it be so….

 

Opportunity.Obstacles.Odds.

Happy Valentines Day. It has been a busy wonderful weekend and I have at least three blogs churning though my little brain. The Ugandan presidential debate last night, save for later, church, this morning, hmm, perhaps tomorrow, the village, later as well.

Let me begin with a shout out to all those who have dined with me over the years at Faze II or Faze III. Hands down,  they serve the best meat in Uganda! Carly, Timba and I all had pork for lunch after church today at Faze II. The ribs were not quite Woody’s or Jethro’s but still delicious. The butter chicken and naan are still my favorites but I have dined on plenty of Indian dishes lately so that will be for another time. Tradition has been to have butter chicken at Faze III the last meal before leaving the country, time will tell.

But now, drum roll…. today’s blog topic…

It is estimated that Uganda’s youth (under 30) unemployment rate is approximately 80%. That includes the vast numbers matriculating from Uganda’s universities each term. In stark contrast, word has it that my business college’s spring graduating class had 100% placement with many staying in town! While US college graduates cannot take that ideal job opportunity for granted – the odds are much more in their favor!

For ten years we have been partnering with a large business school here in Uganda, where each summer we bring together students from both universities to study sustainable development. Last evening I had the absolute delight of spending the evening with five amazing Ugandan young people from the class two years ago. We had a feast of beef stew and noodles and ice cream and cookies. We talked and laughed while the televised Ugandan presidential debate (all five hours of it) caught our attention from time to time.

There were nine in that class that joined us two years ago. A year ago they braved the mid west snow and bitter cold to spend time on our campus. Each has taken a special place in my heart. After officially graduating a few weeks ago, here are the stats: four are employed in Uganda, three are employed abroad, and two still looking for employment.  They are certainly defying the odds but it is still not 100%. I  have been impressed with each of them; articulate, intelligent, engaging,  and motivated. Maybe the key is entrepreneurship – a couple of them are trying it. Uganda is a land of lots of opportunities – but too many barriers as well. These amazing young people are the future of this country! My hope and prayer is that the country realizes their untapped potential for greatness! With love, I wish them the very best!

Projects. Progress.Possibilities.

It is almost the end of my third week here and there is finally a hint of rain and cooler weather. There were actually drops on the windshield as we reached the apartment!

I am sure some of you may be wondering what I am actually accomplishing as my typical blogs are about other observations during my day. Well, besides my blog, keeping up with email back home and navigating heavy traffic ( I can always take that for granted) consuming significant time, I am making progress and  if you continue to read, here is my report.

  1. I have worked with colleagues on the development of curriculum for three programs; two undergraduate and one graduate. There is one more to go. I will polish the proposals over the next week before we submit to the reviewing body. This work always includes a delicious Ugandan lunch!
  2. I have completed revisions on a draft of a journal article.
  3. I am working with Carly on an extensive business feasibility analysis and report.
  4. I have been assigned to the committee for a PhD. student and working with him on his dissertation proposal.
  5. I am consulting with other graduate students on possible dissertation topics.
  6. I am working with a Fulbright student on his research project and planning for a research article,.
  7. Met with a colleague regarding a research paper or case study based on work in western Uganda.

Yes, I think I have been productive but certainly enjoying the weather, food, and relaxation of life here in Uganda. I miss home, friends and family but am settled in a routine!

Oh, and the ants seem to be conquered!

Tomorrow should be a great day and I look forward to checking in afterward! Stay tuned.

Presidents.Politics.Pause.

It is late morning and my day has turned upside down. Not totally a bad thing as I stopped by Java House to up a Malindi Macchiato and stopped by BBrood for some wonderful dutch bread and am now settled back home at my flat with the patio and kitchen doors both flung open wide. The breeze is delightful and the coffee delicious.

But to explain why I am home, I must start from yesterday. I am working with a wonderful young man, Jake, on a project and yesterday met Jake and his mom for lunch on the other side of town. As my route wound through the streets of Kampala I encountered neighborhoods never before explored. Turning onto a street near my lunch destination my driver and I came to a halt in the middle of a rally for presidential opposition candidate Besigye. The massive parade numbered well over 1000, maybe many more, and they were coming straight for us! Excitement, fear, trepidation, sheer panic… Maybe some of each. I sat frozen as the cheering, screaming crowd, some of foot, some on bodas, some in vehicles streamed past. My driver assured me we were fine but I was not convinced. I wish I had been brave enough to take pictures so you could see. To my relief, only a few minutes late I arrived for a delightful conversation over lunch.

So that brings me to why I am sitting here at home enjoying the coffee and breeze. You see, I had a day long meeting planned at the university followed by dinner with a dear friend. First, my friend called early this morning and postponed until early next week as she was not planning to come to campus after all. She was planning to teach later today at a location off campus. Okay, no problem. So after breakfast we dutifully headed first to drop off Carly for work then deposit me on campus. Traffic was the worst I have seen today so it was taking some time. As we were nearing campus one of the colleagues participating in the meeting today called asking if I was still planning to come to campus. My first reaction was to look at my watch thinking perhaps I was late but I was not. “Why, yes”, was my questioning reply. He suggested perhaps we postpone until tomorrow as some of the others were staying away just as my friend.

So you may now ask why. President Museveni is scheduled to be on campus for a rally this afternoon. I know that when there were US presidential candidates with their entourage and all the reporters and the tight security  for all the pre-caucus activity the past several months on my home campus (we were the epicenter) my first option was to stay away if  at all possible.

So for today, I will take for granted that the campus will be full of crowds and excitement and am content to only imagine what it might have been like today…… Ugandan elections are now one week away. I can feel the anticipation and see the increased security around town building. I will watch his rally, like most here, on the evening news.