Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mbale, the Garden of Eden of Uganda

Welcome to Mbale Uganda, about the most beautiful place in Africa.
Mbale is located in the eastern part of Uganda at the foot of Mt. Elgon. High humidity and abundant rainfall make this area an active agricultural center where anything will grow.

The city of Mbale is lined with beautiful old mahogany trees
The mission has sent Elder and Sister Rix from Hurricane, Utah to nurture the brand new branch of the church in Mbale. When we visit this beautiful part of Uganda we stay with the Rix in their plantation home. It is a large, beautiful home with a spacious well groomed yard. The gardener/guard lives in a small cottage on the grounds and keeps the place in pristine condition. They are having a wonderful time nurturing this new little branch. They are great hosts and make us feel very welcome.
Everyone works in the gardens - mom, dad, grandma, kids, everyone.
We have just finished a large water project in Mbale that benefited 113,000 people with clean water and hygiene/sanitation training. Beneficiaries included the Koran Primary school along with 14 other primary schools who received a new latrine, hand washing station and rain water catchment system with a 10,000 liter tank.
Included in the project was 60 protected springs and 30 clothes washing stations. Eddie Mutebi was the general contractor who runs a pretty efficient project, finishing the project in 4 months. Such efficiency is unheard of in Uganda and the Mbale District Leaders were overwhelmed with the results.
Eddie and the man designated to care for the new spring water source.
Surveying the site.
Getting around to visit all the sites of this project isn't easy. Routes are just foot paths as we drive deep into the country side.
A new protected spring
Mostly the children fetch the water twice a day.
Some need a little help to get that water up on their heads.

Some can handle it all by themselves.

Clean water -Such a gift - One that is greatly appreciated.
While visiting a spring in Mbale I ran into one of the new Hygiene/Sanitation trainers. She was fixing dinner, peeling cassava. I sat down to help her and visit a minute. She was so happy to have me spend some time she ran into her hut and put on her Hygiene/Sanitation shirt (note logo) and explained to me that she was in charge of 5 families, her neighbors, to make sure that their part of the community was practicing the new skills they had learned. she also brought out her well worn Bible to show me she was a Christian, a sister in the gospel.

Mbale truly is a paradise. Beautiful scenic views where ever you look.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It's a Bargain!

On the way home from Mbale last week we stopped at a roadside fruit stand and what a bargain.
14 Mangos, 1 pineapple, and 9 passionfruit = $3.00
When you travel with Ssimbwa you never fail to get a bargain. When you are out in the country prices are much less than in the city. We seldom return home without bags of beans, potatoes or rice - Ssimbwa is always looking for inexpensive food to feed the children at his pre-school.

a dozen pineapples
maybe a 100 pound bag of mangos

Once while out working in Buikwa out by the shores of Lake Victoria we had to stop and by silver fish.
By the time we got home we had silver fish swimming all over the back of the truck.
Silver fish are very high in protein and considered a poor man's food. They are great for fixing a fish stew for school children who need a healthy lunch.
Some things are just more than a Muzungu bargains for though
Grasshoppers are a bit much but none the less loved by Africans and again, high in protein. Masaka is known as the grasshopper capitol of Uganda. At night they put out large 50 gallon drums under bright lights. The grasshoppers fly and hop towards the light landing in the barrels which they can't get out of. In the morning you find a great food supply or a good income source.
Lets not forget the truck full of water melons on the way home from Kiryandongo.
At least 20 beautiful melons nestled in the back with corn husks to keep them from breaking on the bouncy ride home. Henry (our apartment super.) wanted to help unload because he wanted a melon. We got 4 but Ssimbwa took the rest home to feed family and friends. We are almost sure he made a profit on those melons, he is pretty shrewd.
(the corn husks were recycled a second time as cow fodder - nothing goes to waste in Uganda.)

Shopping in the country is always an experience (especially when you take Ssimbwa along.)