Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mercy Uganda Expands to Bugiri

Receiving the International NGO status means that Mercy Uganda must demonstrate a substantive presence in all districts of Uganda, particularly during the first year of operation. At that time the government will review our progress to see that we are fulfilling the requirements assigned under that standard. As a result, we’re expanding our child sponsorship and other ministry efforts into many districts including Bugiri, an eastern region about three hours from Kampala and an hour from the Kenyan boarder.

Lauren and I boarded the cram-packed taxi from Kawuku to Kampala and found Henry at the Shell station next to the busy taxi park where the Toyota vans were sent off in every direction. Weaving our way among the many signs indicating the destination for each taxi, we found the right vehicle and boarded. Henry and I were in the way back where the knee space was narrowest. He and I are both the same height, tall. Three hours of super squish but some great company with Henry. Street vendors reached in through the windows to offer everything from drinks, food, and candy, to handkerchiefs and cell phone air time. Along the way the taxi pulled over to an area where the street vendors again descended. Roasted chicken on a stick, some other kind of meat cubed on a stick, drinks, fruits, everything…if you don’t mind not knowing how your food was handled.

Henry’s mother lives along the route so we dropped in for a visit before heading into the bush. As usual, I admired her gorgeous array of fresh flowers. And, as usual, she prepared a meal for us beyond any expectation: chapatti, sugar cane, eggs, papaya, banana, and gee-nuts and sesame seeds (sounds strange, but it was fantastic). After offering our thanks, we said good-bye and hopped on three bodas that took us down the off-road trail leading to Kitodha, a village in Bugiri.

In a stretch, the trail could have been considered a two-track, but…that would have been a real stretch. Unlike Karamoja, the land was rich and green. I couldn’t help but be thankful that it hadn’t rained that morning or we would have boda’ed through slime puddles all morning. As it was our boda tires balanced on a three-inch-wide track with deep muck on either side. One slip and we’d become mud people. Half an hour later we arrived to the sound of music.