mandag 12. oktober 2009

From the Sickbed:

The power of draft is unmistakable. Whether you are in the northernmost, coldest areas of the world or in equatorial Africa, be aware of the dreaded draft. To get to the point; I’ve fallen sick. Quite tiring, boring and annoying, but it will surely pass. So I thought I would use the opportunity to write some words about where we are.

Imagine you sitting in the back of a car in the middle of Africa. The car is a wreck of a Toyota ’90-model held together with ropes, making sounds you don’t want to know where are coming from. You are driving on a road best fit for tractors and 4-wheelers, sharing the back seats with 4-5 locals wondering what kind of business a white person has in their taxi, normally with one of them eager to chat, bumping up, down and sideways with a pointy thing coming in from the side – all the time passing banana plantations, small mud houses and courtyards, boda-bodas with more load than one would fit in a car in Norway, women dressed in colourful dresses carrying food, wood and water on their heads, children running, smiling, waving, a pink mosque, and more banana plantations.

All this shown with a backdrop of hills covered with squares of fields and plantations in different shades of green, and the 5000m high Rwenzori mountains ruling in the background. This is the road up the Mubuku valley. Our home for the next four weeks.

Mubuku valley is divided into two sub-counties by the river Mubuku. On the west side you find Bugoye sub-county, Maliba on the east side. Until now we have spent most of our time exploring the villages of Bugoye and Ibanda – Bugoye being the village where the new hydro power plant is located, conveniently enough with both an excellent lunch and satellite internet.

We have found a place to stay in Ibanda, so we are now leaving the comforts of hot showers and sitting toilets in our hotel in Kasese, to be more conveniently situated close to the site.

At first glance, Bugoye looks like a settlement of only 15-20 tiny shops along the road and with a small marked under a tree. But behind the facades towards the road, there is a patchwork of houses, shops, people and services in all shapes and sizes. There are for instance a hotel, several restaurants and even a cinema. The standard is somewhat lower than what we know of from Norway, but the food is very good and people are happy. Almost every spot over a certain size is used to dry coffee beans. They are spread out on the ground, patiently taken in and out every night and on every rainfall. They look like colourful carpets of red, yellow and brown on the red soil.

In groups along the road you’ll find many men sitting on their motorcycles asking if you need a ride. They are called boda-bodas and are a very common site all over Uganda. We’ve been told that many young men drop out of school to drive on of these, hoping for easy money. Unfortunately, the market is overloaded and finally they go back to agriculture – if they didn’t already sell their land to get the boda-boda that is. There is also a small market in Bugoye. This is where you’ll find mostly women. They come from farms in the area, selling all kinds of vegetables like potatoes, matoke (a kind of a banana that is one of the most important foods in the country), coffee, rice, flour, etc.

Surrounding the market, there are as much as 6 butchers, tailors, grocery shops, drug stores, a shoe vender, and many bars. Unfortunately there is a culture of many men drinking. While the women are at home doing hard work trying to make a living for her family, the husbands have a rumour of spoiling everything away on drinking and such. The women have no power here and men can often have many wives. This inevitably leads to very big families, often poor and without means to send the children to school.

Ibanda is a bigger village further up the valley from Bugoye. This is where both the Rwenzori primary, secondary and high school is situated. The community council has their office here, and more importantly, this is where you’ll find the brand new Noremco stadium. This is our site. We have met a Scotsman called Stephen Pritchard who started an NGO called CDTS (Community Development Through Sports) two years ago. He lives in Ibanda and he and his staff are organizing football and netball trainings all over the valley, bringing youth and children together to play. Their new stadium is the flattest one in the entire district (they are normally veeery bumpy), and the pride of the valley.

We are going to work with the kids from CDTS and together construct changing rooms and tribunes for the stadium. We are very excited and eager to start!

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