Well, today was one of the more interesting days I have had in a very long time. Those of you with the usual 10 second attention span for something posted on Facebook …. I walked about 6 miles on dirt paths (up and down lots of hills), got my clothes muddy because of the pouring rain, visited 2 Ugandan villages, got rained on, walked through mud and ate some local food that I have no idea what it was. Met lots of locals and learned some words. Interesting!
If you’ve read this far, grab a beer or coffee, I’ll tell you what I did today…. As background, within 2 hours drive of where I am, there is no infrastructure whatsoever, which means no electricity, no plumbing, no running water, no refrigeration, no paved roads, no cars (a few 4x4s). In addition, many of the things that we take for granted simply do not exist; like garbage collection, restaurants, Internet, TV, radios, stoves, ovens, coffee makers (or anything that runs on electricity or gas) No electricity means no TV, no NFL, no NHL, no 9:00pm news, no recorded music. And no light bulbs unless powered by a solar panel and small battery,. And no generator because if you have nothing that runs on electricity, you don’t need a generator 🙂
Note: I am staying in a basic lodge that caters to western tourists that come here to see the Mountain Gorillas (not far away) so electricity is a few power strips in the restaurant that are hooked to a battery that has a solar panel. No electricity in the rooms except solar powered lights. Internet is via cell phones that broadcast wifi signals and route the traffic onto the cell phone network.
Singing Gorilla Project does projects to better the lives of locals. One of the projects is the installation of water tanks in places that do not have running water, which is basically everyplace within 2 hours drive of where I am. Water tanks are important because they can catch rain water and store it. The alternative, which they are doing now, is to send the woman and children 2 hours round trip to the river, to get water and bring it back in containers on their heads. Why the women and children, why not the husbands? Because almost every able-bodied man is working in the capital (Kampala, 10 hours away) in order to make money. By putting in water tanks, Singing Gorilla Project thinks that the children will spend more time on school work. I’ll write more about what “school work” means here if anyone is interested.Let me know.
The tanks need to be purchased from the capital and delivered here. Then rain gutters have to be created and affixed to the sheet metal roofs, along with the pipes to divert the water to the tanks. Concrete pads have to be poured to support the tanks. And some plumbing has to added to get the water out of the tanks. Singing Gorilla Projects takes donations and pays for the cost of all of this (about $1000 per tank) but the village needs to do ALL of the labor to get the tanks delivered and installed. It is a JOINT project. There is no government support for any of this … if anyone is interested in why, I’ll be glad to elaborate. 🙂
Today, we went out to see how it is going. We also had two other items on the agenda, but this is Africa, so everything takes 3 times as long as planned and we never got elsewhere. Tomorrow, maybe.
We set out at 10:00am in a 4×4 and traveled til the roads were too impassible or narrow, then took off on foot, We walked for about an 90 minutes (with at least three 500 foot changes in elevation) and got to a village that was having one of the water tanks installed. 5 or 6 guys carried the empty, huge water tanks through the same paths we walked and delivered the tank, with much celebration from everyone! The concrete pad for the tank was still being prepared. The locals insisted we eat lunch, which was some sort of potato-like stew. See the picture. As D would say, it was made with love!
We then walked another few miles up and down more hills, and watched the delivery of a second tank in a different village. As they say, pictures are worth a thousand words so I;I’ll post a few pics, and video later if anyone is interested.
We walked a few miles back to the 4×4 in constant rain on muddy paths. A 30 minute drive and we got back about 4:00pm.
If you’ve read this far, you get rewarded with a few interesting anecdotes … This first village was unique because it had a woman that was about 98 years old. They told me that they are not sure of her exact age because no one else was alive when she was born, and she does not remember how old she is. Yes, that is what they told me. She looked great for 98. The second village also had a unique person; it was a woman who they said has been blind for 40 years. This woman helps deliver babies, but they said she does not know what the babies look like, she just delivers them. She looked older than 40 but I’m not sure if she has been blind her whole life, but my question about this only got a blank saying “that’s the stupidest question I’ve ever heard”. She seemed nice so I let it go.
The video (1 min 30 sec) shows the arrival of a water tank to Soma village. It starts out a bit dark but it gets bright quickly. The song that is sung is common during any type of celebration for something good that has happened. This tank will be able to store water so the journeys for water during the dry seasons should be less frequent. This is the final result of a lot of work by many people.