We left Apricot Guest House bright and early and began the long journey to Jinja. Davis warned us that the road was under construction and it could be a 3+ hour drive so we bit the bullet and left at 7. After a brief stop to pick up a non-existent Anna who hadn’t charged her phone and thus didn’t get our texts, we swung by Mukono to grab Andrew and proceeded out of town.
Well, we tried to get out of town, anyway. What actually happened is what happens often at major intersections: JAM.
There’s nothing you can do, aside from cursing the lack of traffic lights and traffic cops, but one thing we’ve noticed this year is that the infrastructure improvements have been immense in Uganda. There are actual honest-to-god traffic lights at several intersections, and (even more miraculous) people are actually obeying them! For anyone who’s actually been here before, this is nothing short of a paradigm shift. Even on the way home from the airport I commented to Davis that the traffic seemed less chaotic and more orderly, and he told me that the government has been cracking down on traffic violations and poor driving habits in an effort to curb the massive number of traffic deaths each year. Of course the added revenue from all the crack downs hasn’t hurt, either.
Once we cleared the jam in Mukono we zipped along quite speedily. The road to Jinja used to be full of potholes and ruts and broken down matooke trucks, but this time it was smooth driving. Thanks, infrastructure building.
On the way there we go through a stretch of forest and Erika and I always roll down our windows and get a deeeeeep breath of the lovely cool air. It’s always wonderful, but even wonderfuller is the next stretch of road which has the tea plantations. The air smells amazing and one day we will stop and take photos.
Our first stop was Amy Washington, founder extraordinaire of Kupendwa Ministries. We first met her in 2012 and have worked with her ever since. She runs an amazing home for teen mothers and also does intense community outreach. We helped with one of those events and distributed kits and taught reproductive and sexual health. She’s since moved to a new location which is way out in the middle of nowhere at the end of a crazily rutted road. The property is huge – about 20 acres – and she’s already built three houses for her mothers and staff, and is in the process of building more. She has solar power, water tanks and thus plumbing, tons of fruit and vegetables… and the most amazing view of the Nile.
We will be taking our team out there in July and I’m sure it will be a great experience. Amy is charming and welcoming and we wish her the best.
After a great lunch – truly awesome, even though it was in a restaurant inside a gas station, but go figure – we went back to Njeru (near-ish to Jinja) to meet Margaret Hasasha. She’s the Woman’s Advocate for the town and a truly wonderful woman. She counsels young women who have been the victims of sexual assault or domestic violence as well as teaches vocational skills. She somehow manages to find time to make and distribute reusable sanitary kits, too. Erika and Margaret had a great conversation and Erika will bring the team to meet with her and perhaps work in Margaret’s outreach programs, especially at a local school for the deaf.
By the time we made it back into Kampala it was 13 hours from the time we’d left. We were exhausted and covered in road dust but it was a great day. This was a day to reconnect with some old friends of ISEE and plan for the future together. Never a dull moment in Uganda! More to come…