On Wednesday several of us jumped on picky-pickies (This is slang for motorcycle taxi or boda) and rode to the ravine where several mountainous hills collided. Dipping into the countryside, the Bukalasi Secondary School sprawls itself into the side of the valley, revealing a large football field, small shops and an angled courtyard where students mill outside of classrooms. Greeted by Alex, the Headmaster of Bukalasi, Somali, one of the most well-known teachers at our vocational academy, explained our visit. Each of us represented a different aspect of the centre and led a talk with several students listening intently. George and Isaac discussed the coursework and technical training, Somali inspired the students with tales of success, and James mentioned the strong backbone of international support BVA receives. Afterwards, questions were followed by distribution of literature and we took a mutatu back to our descent.
I must say, hitching a ride on an open-air boda is so exhilarating when traveling up the mountains. The drivers go perhaps skittishly fast and your hair whips back from your face in delight. Not everyone likes the speed. Sometimes you’ll hear an expat (This is usually a white person, also known as a Mzungu) say, ‘Polé, polé! » This is just our way of saying, ‘Slow down you crazy driver!’ My first week I also used these words but have since decided to dig into the local way of fast, hard, and reckless. When it is muddy and the pools of sticky sludge create narrow misses, I go back to the polé way of navigation.
Upon arriving back on stable ground, the following three days of work were filled with administration meetings and one unforgettable trip to meet an orphan’s family. Barbara led this team of carpenters and scholarship students to help the grandmother who heads the household. All helped repair a run-down wall, bring needed items of hygiene and health, as well as wash particularly dirty blankets. It was a fruitful trip that was highlighted by the smile on a four-year old who received a yellow racing car gift.
The following morning we woke up at 6:00 to meet NGO workers from a nearby private school, construction outfit and medical foundation. Six of us began just after daybreak to climb a path that wound its way around small, earthy dwellings, goats, and angry-looking bulls. Almost two years of my time since late 2013 has been spent in Mozambique. Now that I am in Uganda I am struck by how well-made the homes are in Bududa district. The Lugishu people in this region have little and are often living daily with small amounts of food and struggling to pay school fees for more than 6 children in their households. However the state of their homes is not as humble as where I come from. The homes usually have two or more rooms and are made with local materials and/or concrete that gives the walls stability. The corrugated steel and metal roofs are also quite common. While the interiors of these homes are often bare, it is comforting to know most can keep the rain from entering.
Since I’ve arrived the rain has come once every 2-3 days. It never stops.
Submitted by: KIMBERLY BEEBE
Grants & Development Officer