On the 13th May, I travelled to Ruhanga, SW Uganda for 6 days.
I've been to West Uganda before, so even before arriving I knew is was a beautiful part of Uganda and turning up at Uganda Lodge, my expectations were met even futher. I said that Zanzibar was beautiful but Zanzibar is man made, all the buildings etc. But here it's nature in all it's glory!
Uganda Lodge is on the main road to Rwanda, not that you could tell, surrounded by many hills and wildlife.
Uganda Lodge is a research centre for people in the community to come to work, through building, carpentry or to have computer lessons or sewing lessons. Volunteers can stay, with all money going back into the project and can help within the community doing different work.
Turning up at the Lodge, there were only 3 other volunteers at the Lodge. Helen who was also 18 and 2 older men, Colin and John. They made me feel very welcome, along with the lovely staff.
That night we were just chilling in the TV room when a white landrover with 2 Brazilians turned up.
Mikael and Haroldo, are currently travelling Africa and making small documentaries, showing only the positive side of each country they go to.
Mikael was in his 30's and Haroldo his father was in this 60's and were incredible men. Haroldo had so many stories and we just spent the night listening with envy.Haroldo thanked me for just living life and couldn't believe I was only 18, from the way I held myself physically and through conversations, I was very mature. My head was growing, I'm surprised I made it through my bedroom door J
They've invited me to go to Brazil in 2014 for the World Cup. I'd so be up for it, will just have to wait and see where I am in life.
Mikael and Haroldo left Thursday morning after giving us all these green ribbons, which were to remember the first Africans who formed with the Catholics to establish a church in Brazil. They were tied on with 3 knots and whilst doing so we had to make a wish. When the ribbon finally falls off, hopefully our wish will come true!
We painted the Nursery classroom and then headed into the nearest town to get wood and bolts, for a see-saw that we had planned to make throughout the week.
We tried milking the cow today. I got whacked in the face by her tail and got hardly any milk out. It really does take some skill.
As I wrote in my journal, Thursday was the day I really found peace within myself. Today I realized I had changed. I knew I had, but being away from the group, away from the village, in a new environment with strangers, I felt confident and comfortable within myself. Something that I personally have been wanting for a long time!...
I was talking to a local in the afternoon, whilst the sun was slowly setting and asked him about his feelings on the elections. He told me that he wants Museveni to stay in power. "There is peace in our country. When Idi Amin was in power we couldn't do anything, he would steal from us and boss us around. I can now sit, walk and talk with mzungus, grow my crops and us the transport, there aren't any worries now,he isn't doing anything wrong" It was interesting to hear his point, as I've only heard negative points of Museveni.
That night we sat around the fire, with the local workers and then played pool.
John, Colin, Denis (owner) Spark (worker) and myself climbed the mountain opposite the Lodge. I couldn't find out the height, but hopefully from some of the photos you'll see it was a beast. It took us 3 hours all together but the views were worth it along with our internal pride, it was hard going!
That evening we went down to watch the local boys train, only for me to get involved. Every time I'd make a tackle or dribble past they'd all congratulate me, shake my hand. I seemed to of surprised them with my hidden talent J
John and Colin headed into town to find a longer bolt, as it didn't fit through the plank, whilst Helen and me were left to saw the tyre and sand and paint the wood.
I was cutting the tyre in half, only for Nelson to come shouting "Madam, Madam" He looked scared as I turned around with a huge saw in my hand. Nelson completed the cut for me along with the sanding of the wood, as he said I'd take all day. Haha J
That night when coming back from the toilet, James called me over to come help him dig. I knew he was joking, but I took the wheelbarrow and walked off, well wobbled off, it was heavier than I had expected. They were moving mud that had been dumped from one end of the plot to the other. I dug and chatted away to James and Alex, who said they really enjoyed my company, liked how tough I was, how I was the best in defence and that they would cry when I leave! James also told me he doesn't want to produce with me, as mzungus are expensive but I'm not a mzungu, I'm a Ugandan! Still I told him no producing will be done ha J
We had Rabbit for dinner, was really good.
John, Helen, Denis and myself went to a local hot spring. It wasn't quite what we expected. We thought it would be in sequlded , only to find it full of half naked locals staring at us as we tip-toed across the rocks. We drank some tea, the water taken from the hottest part of the spring and then dipped our toes before leaving. It was a bit awkard for us, not that the locals seemed to mind us being there though.
John and me fixed the swing that was hanging from the tree by the school and then we all chilled watching Star Wars as the heavens opened, it poured down all night!
Today we got cracking on the see-saw. The locals helped us a lot, cementing the tyres and wood in. Whilst John and me just looked holding the spirit level J We showed Nelson how to use the spirit level as they just go by eye judgment, he wasn't impressed by what he called, 'the English tool'
We needed a hole straight through the middle of the plank for the bolt, so Nelson with his one eye and hand drill, got at it. It was so funny to watch him drill at many angles and then look at us confused when the bolt wouldn't go through. He ended up hammering it through!
We put another coat of paint on and it looks great. We were very happy with it!
That evening I paid Denis, for him to realize it was my final night and that we must have chicken. I told him not to worry but within minutes a chicken was caught, being plucked and it's neck sliced. It was strange that they pluck the chicken before the kill it. It was still moving for a good few minutes after it was killed. I had the leg for dinner, yummm J
I really didn't want to leave!
Denis couldn't of made me feel any more comfortable. He really cares for all staying there, along with the workers.
The workers always wanted to chat and their humor was very quick. They were great fun.
The accommodation was lovely and the food brilliant. We had goat, beef, rabbit and chicken, with many different vegetables each night, followed by freshly cut fruit and cows milk.
I'm hoping to return for a long weekend before I leave, just for a proper goodbye to all the workers.
When I got back to Bulenga, I was instantly hit by the change. I'm not sure why but after saying goodnight to Jane, as soon as I got in the house I sobbed.
Going away from village always has it positives and negatives and I always seem to find it hard getting back into routine but as soon as I am back in routine I'm sure I'll be fine.
It probably doesn't help when your full of flu and have to collect water or light the charcoal stove. It's only when I'm ill I realize how hard work some things are, but that's obvious really.
This morning I hide away in the house, I just wanted privacy but walking through the compound talking to families who are back, I'm feeling better and adjusting back to village life.
We start school again on Monday, so need to get on with some lesson plans but luckily I'll be able to do some in the first week of term, as not many pupils turn up.
It's now 3 months until I'm back…
All my love x x Emma x x
The photos from Ruhanga don't seem to be uploading, I'll try and do them soon!