Day 3 – 15th June 2007
There’s no truer fact than this:
‘Uganda is the friendliest place on Earth’
As I was told this on the bus by Burtie this morning, I looked outside of the stationary bus and saw lots of white teethed smiles peeking into the bus and asking for your well-being:
‘How are you?’ which you have to ask back.
The children waves at the bus to which we enthusiastically wave back. Random strangers go out of their way to achieve your destination. Amazing!
Jami, Jackson and I went to the third largest city in Uganda, Jinja, and headed to the city market but pretty soon we didn;t know exactly where it was. We saw a nice looking tall local lady and asked her for directions but she took us there instead! How sweet! We chatted and found out she lived in Manchester in England for six years and also she owned a restaurant here. En route to the market, she showed us her restaurant and showed us the menu. On top was Goat and Chips! Yummy!
To get to her restaurant, we had to climb a dark and dank stairwell, which we were wary at first but the surprise was great! We promised we would discuss her restaurant with the others. She didn’t force us or anything and left us to make our decision, which was really nice of her to do.
We spent the morning in Jinja, where we exchanged our US Dollars to Ugandan Shillings – US$250 gives you 402,500 shillings! It would be the first time I was nearly a demi-millionaire! The bank had an armed security guard, which he eyed us over as we left..hmm. Walking down the high street we were heartbroken as loads of orphans ran up to us and begged us for money. We had to say no. Who knew what we would be funding? Their education or their bosses who run a money-making scheme?
We stopped off at an internet cafe where the organisers sent an email to our parents informing them of our safe arrival. Bought a fizzy drink (700 shillings), I gaped at the price but inflation must be high here. Orla, Lily, Katie and I talked outside of the cafe, people-watching, fanning ourselves as the heat was bearable (but it had been cloudy). And proceeded to talk about Urban legends!
The town of Jinja definitely showed 2 sides – the business and cosmopolition side but behind those busy shop fronts were the shanty villages. People had houses made of serrated steel, mud and sticks. People there were gaunt, emphasised by their hollow cheekbones. It made me more committed to the Softpower Education Project as children raised in these shanty villages should have the best possible start.
Back at the campsite called NRE Campsite, just outside Jinja, most of us went swimming in the River Nile (White) and near the rapids. It was a amazing experience…I’m swimming in the Nile! Only 5 years prior I was in my geography class looking at maps of the ile, which seemed so far away and here I am!
The NRE Campsite is a fantastic place with a view of the White Nile and using what Nature has to offer…plus there’s a bar hehe. The bunkbeds are really comfy, especially compared to the plane seats! That morning I slept really deeply and now I’m feeling great! Sharing with Dan, Jami and couple Ames and Steve. Mosquito net came loose in the night but managed to screw it back on the ceiling.
Later that evening, we visited two schools, which Softpower has built in the past. One of them was the famous Wakitita Primary School, which we heard about before leaving Britain. The kids there were so friendly and extremely cheeky! They were amazed at my height and one of them wanted to climb on my shoulders so he could see the world! There was an absolutely fantastic atmosphere showing the vitality of the schools. Because of the happiness of the children, it really highlights the need for schools to give them the best possible start in life.
Hal and I talked to some kids, they were all 10 years old and they kept taking the mickey out of Hal. These were my kinda kids! I egged them on, especially that one of them were high as Hal! We ate Jack-fruit – a really sweet tasting orange like fruit. They were supplied to us by the teachers and the jack-fruit were massive! We enjoyed eating them with the kids as we all sat down and they laughed at our attempts to eat them without dribblign fluid down our chins! These kids were amazing. they had such a happy go lucky attitude.
We got back on the trucks, which we travelled to the primary schools in, to which we were stood at the back. The air was lovely, the heat is just right and allowed us to look out at the stunning views amongst the hills. The best bit we waved at everyone and they waved back with smiles and running in the wake of the truck.
Now we are chilling out back at the NRE Bar overlooking the White Nile, I can’t believe I swam in it! It wasn’t until later on that I discovered that it may contain crocodiles!
I kicked back on the sand and watched the sun go down and had a bottle of local beer in my hand and sighed. This truly is the most friendliest place on Earth!
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