So as mentioned in my previous post this journey is taking our team, which we have dubbed Team Uganda, I know very original, to as you guessed it Uganda. Winston Churchill called Uganda The Pearl of Africa. It is a country that offers so much natural beauty such as one of the main tributaries of The Mighty Nile flows straight out of Lake Victoria, the continents largest lake. The tallest most majestic mountains in Africa, called the Rwenzoris, are located in this small country, and it is home to the highest concentration of primates in the world. Uganda is beautiful but it has had many struggles.
Since the late 1980s the Republic of Uganda has rebounded from the abyss of civil war and economic catastrophe to become relatively peaceful, stable and prosperous.
But the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the north remain blighted by one of Africa's most brutal rebellions.
In the 1970s and 1980s Uganda was notorious for its human rights abuses, first during the military dictatorship of Idi Amin from 1971-79 and then after the return to power of Milton Obote, who had been ousted by Idi Amin. This is just a small portion of history full of civil war and rebellions.
Team Uganda, made up of 8 Canadians from different co-operatives across Canada, arrived in Uganda on Sunday January 20th in the early morning. A warm breeze and the rich smell of soil, and flowers greeted us as we exited the airport. I had to stop and take in a big deep breath of that so familiar but forgotten smell. I don't know what it is about the wonderful earthy smell of Africa it just becomes a part of you. It had been a long journey and it took us to many countries and some we weren't expecting to see. Our trip to Uganda for the last 2 years was to take us through Rwanda but again this year it wasn't meant to be. This year like last we had to be rerouted due to flight delays and we had the chance to unexpectedly visit the Cairo Airport. This led to a big discussion amongst all of us as to whether you can consider that you have been to a country even if you have only seen the airport. Maybe you can let us know your thoughts on this debate that raged through 2 countries. Our final consensus was that you can consider that you have been to the country if you have put your foot outside of the airport. Well to make sure we could count Brussels as a city we have visited we held a snowball fight just outside the airport. Luck for us there was no arrests. Cairo we could not count as there was little bit more involved in leaving the airport, but it did provide wonderful shopping. As we arrived in Uganda there was some tense moments as we waited for all luggage to be spit out on the carousel but a huge hurrah was heard when the last suitcase was delivered.
On Tuesday we will split from our team of 8 to 4 teams of 2 and we will all travel to different parts of northern Uganda. My partner and I are travelling the furthest north to the Koboko region where we will visit and work with 2 Saccos. One being Midia Farmers Sacco and Koboko United Cooperative Savings & Credit Society. Koboko region is found in the northwest of Uganda on the Congo and South Sudan border and had suffered greatly during the campaign of terror inflicted by Kony. As the rest of Uganda they are recovering and prospering and we look forward to seeing what we will learn and what support we can provide.
I look forward to updating you on our travels north and what happens along the way. Please let me know your thoughts on whether you consider you have been to a city even if you have only landed at the airport.