Friday, November 30, 2012

When in Uganda

 RolfTraichel, FCL Director, Alberta, Adele McGuire, Metro CU, PEI and Laurie Tennian, CCA, Ontario, wade through water to cross a flooded road

Grasshoppers, White Ants and other Curiosities
Grasshoppers are crunchy, salty and tasty. How do I know? It was one of the food items on the lunch menu during my Canadian Co-operative Association study mission to northern Uganda. No after effects. Just a few legs sticking in my teeth. Kidding!

 Now that I have tasted cricket, I would try white ants, another delicacy here, if offered.  I did, however, pass up an opportunity to try homemade beer, made of sorghum.  Sipped from a plastic jug through long slender reeds, the brew has lumpy grey yeast foam floating on top. As hot as it was (temperatures have been ranging from 25-30 C) the words buzz kill came to mind.

Since the last two blogs have centered around heavy topics, I thought I would go on the lighter side tonight and tell you  some of the notes my teammates and I have taken to tell our Canadian family members and friends when we return home December 5. 

·         The beer of choice for us is Nile beer and is similar in taste to our Moosehead ale.

·         Ugandans put their surnames before their given Christian names. The top two names seem to be Stella and Peter.

·         Uganda is a Commonwealth nation and is predominantly Christian. The influences of both can be seen in many ways.  We have seen enterprises called Trust Jesus Saloon, Mercy Unisex Salon, God is Able store and Blessed Internet Café. 

·         Almost every household it appears has a cell phone, even though many communities are still without electricity. Solar panels are a popular source of alternate power and are sold at roadside stands, along with charging stations, resembling our outhouses, to restore dead cell phone batteries.

·         Most main streets have a pool table outside a bar.

·         Ugandans drive on the left side of the road.

·         Most roads we are travelling resemble our logging roads and are riddled with potholes, rocks, puddles and trenches carved out by rain. Others have been “goat trails” at best. It makes for bumpy rides. We have been stuck twice and another time had to wade through knee-deep brown water to cross a flooded road.

·         Boda Bodas are maniacs on motorcycles.  The fare-charging drivers have so many accidents that a wing of the Kampala hospital is dedicated entirely to their treatment.

·         Uganda’s soil is red similar to Prince Edward Island’s. Coincidentally, we saw an Island dirt shirt being sold by a roadside vendor.

·         Uganda’s oranges are green. Other tropical fruits grown here include bananas, papaya, mangoes.

·         Top crops are maize, yams, cassava, “Irish” potatoes, rice, yellow beans

·         Uganda is the biggest coffee producing country on the continent, next to Ethiopia.

·         50% of Uganda’s population is 15 and under. We are constantly swarmed by children who want to touch our pale skin.  Our entry into their communities is greeted by shouts of Muzungoos or Mondoos, meaning “whites”, and friendly waves.

·         Uganda’s population is 33.4 million, almost the same as Canada’s, but its geographical size is half the province of Saskatchewan.

·         Most rural homes in northern Uganda are thatched huts made of grass and clay.

·         Vegetation is lush green and includes palm trees, cactus and aloe vera plants.

·         Biscuits, similar to our Arrowroot cookies are often served at functions we attend, sometimes with great fanfare (packages draped with cloths and presented in fancy dishes). We are also offered a choice of Coke, Fanta or Mountain Dew. Ugandans love their soda.

·         It is common to see two boys or two men holding hands as friends

·         Rural Ugandans main mode of transportation is the bicycle, followed by the motorcycle. Most walk to their destination. Today we met a teacher who walked 20 kilometers , one way,  to be present for our get-together in the mountain top village of Erussi near the border of Congo.  This has been our experience – SACCO, RPO, ACE members travelling 5, 10, 20 kilometres by foot to share their stories of success with the Canadian co-operators.





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