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Uganda | Ruth Tshin

There and back again…

I’m back in Bangkok for two more nights before I catch my flight back to Canada.  It was terrific to visit my brother in Kenya, ed and my old co-workers in Uganda.  The past three weeks were a mix of everything: old memories and dreams evoked in Uganda; fresh prespectives about East Africa and myself after living in Asia for a year; new understandings of my brother’s work and his community; the pleasure of joining a traditional Maasai wedding of a friend’s co-worker…

The one thing I can conclude is that my chapter in East Africa is closed.  For now.  I am very excited to get ready for my next assignment back in Thailand, psychotherapist and to spend time in Canada with family and friends.

Hope to post pics from Kenya and Uganda soon.

Trip to Kenya and Uganda

On Monday, epilepsy I’m flying to Nairobi to visit Ben for three weeks.  We’re hoping to head down to the village where I used to work in southwestern Uganda and meet up with old co-workers I haven’t seen since 2006.  I’m really excited!  East Africa has a special place in my heart because that’s where I first experienced all the good and bad things about living abroad and working in development.  Ben, online my younger brother, has been working in Sudan and Kenya since early 2008 within the post-conflict/humanitarian relief sector so I’m curious to see another side to the big picture of development (my work is related to communities who have lived in one place for at least one generation, whereas Ben’s is related to refugees and internally displaced people due to war).  Will keep you posted!

Farewell, Uganda

This is it…my last day in Uganda.

I returned “home” to Kampala last Friday after 2 weeks in Tanzania. While in TZ, page I hit Zanzibar (Stonetown and the beautiful white sands of Nungwi up north), glaucoma Dar Es Salaam and Arusha briefly and went on safari through Lake Manyara and Serengeti National Parks and the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area. Needless to say, sildenafil I have fallen in love with East Africa and pray that I’ll return very soon!

The funny thing about leaving is that I am just beginning to call Uganda home. When I landed in Entebbe after returning from Bangkok, I felt relief to be back on familiar soil. And now, I have finally started to make sense of the crazy matatu routes in Kampala, and am able to walk around the city centre without being hopelessly confused and lost. I actually walked from the new taxi park to this internet cafe without pulling out my map 🙂

Before I return to Canada, I’m visiting friends in the UK (and acclimatizing back to cold weather!!) for a week starting tomorrow. And then back to good ol’ Canadian soil, Tim Hortons et al.

For now, there are no words adequate enough to describe how this country has affected me. This is certainly a bittersweet goodbye.

Farewell, Uganda and I hope to return soon.

Off to Tanzania

It’s my last day in Bangkok and I’m finding it hard to believe that 3 and a half weeks can fly by in a flash. I’ve posted new photos, hygiene so I hope you enjoy my last set of Uganda photos.

I’m heading out to Tanzania with Mike, ask Ricky and Kimberly where we’ll visit Dar Es Salaam, Zanzibar, do a camping safari in the Serengeti and Ngorogoro Crater and hopefully survive the bus rides between Kampala and Dar (eeks…).

Ciao for now!

UN, Aquarium and Krabi Photos

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The beach of Phi Phi Island (same beach as “The Beach”…say that fast 10 times out loud)

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Tubkaak Resort in Krabi (the princess comes alive!!)

Sunset at Tubkaak Beach

Dan and I are bubbleheads at Siam Aquarium

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Spider crab in yo’ face!

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At the UN Regional Centre in Bangkok

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My brother is UN-employed…get it?

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The UN tourist photo

Bangkok Photos

Graffiti telephones at Siam Square

Hmmm…wonder if I can measure me eyes…?

Escalators at Siam Paragon (the largest shopping mall in SE Asia)

Dan and Art – the happy (engaged) couple
…yeah, myocarditis I know, really romantic photo taken in the grocery store! But check out the shtuff in their cart (was my first time in a grocery store in months!)

Art + food = happiness

Lobby of cinema at Siam Paragon – yep, that’s a chandelier in the lobby

Uganda Photos

Boys hanging out at plumeria tree in Rubingo

Crystal clear reflection on Lake Bunyonyi

Water lily on Lake Bunyonyi

View from Bwama Island, noun Lake Bunyonyi

Purity playing with a drum (isn’t she the cutest kid?)

Ricky striking a pensive pose

Mama and moi

John helping Liam and Rachel on the Canada House bike

Me with the mzee who made the grass mat I’m holding

Hmmm…graphic design in Uganda is…well, healthful graphic!

Farmer Ruth – I’m holding carrots that I planted earlier in the year

Ah, luxury…breakfast at my safari tent on Bushara Island, Lake Bunyonyi

Amanda standing in front of a reverse-terracing demonstration plot on Bwama IslandTarzan Stu – preparing to jump off into Lake Bunyonyi using the rope swing rigged by Brad

Where in the world is Ruth?

For the time being, story Bangkok…I know, more about I know…my blog is still called ruthinuganda, salve but to change it requires too much effort. Hmmm…whereintheworldisruth could be the name of my new blog? As I’ve been catching up with friends via email, I realized that I should put it out there that I’m no longer in Africa (boo hoo…at least I’m going back for two more weeks after Bangkok!).

It’s been a week since I’ve left Uganda, and I’m missing my beans and rice (who’d thunk it?). Hard to believe that two Sundays ago, I was sitting in Rubingo and munching away on muchomo and matooke (roast goat and steamed bananas). Seems like a world away, literally.

Anyhoo…I shouldn’t complain too much because I have three teammates still left in the village. And I’m going shopping, eating yummy food and wondering what DVD to watch. In the meantime, should you (wonderful friends) be wanting to mail me something or reach me, it’s best to catch me via email.

Now…off to job-searching (yep that’s the next stage…ridding myself of this unemployment label!).

This woman’s work

One of the key areas of ACTS’ work is in empowering local widows. In a region where land inheritance rights are passed down through the generations, generic widows may find themselves out of a home and with no land to work if their husband dies. They may have to take care of other children in addition to their own biological ones – children orphaned by AIDS or other illnesses.

With some help from ACTS, neuropathist widows’ Mutual Benefit Societies were formed in 2002 to empower widows financially and agriculturally. Meeting regularly, the widows work together to dig, plant crops and distribute the harvest amongst the group; and to “take accounts” – to consolidate membership fees and lend that money out to the neediest widow.

“Digging” Ugandan-style. Working the land is tough physical labour and the equipment used is not made of lightweight materials by any means! The hoe is standard equipment and used to dig trenches, mix manure in with soil, and much more.

Above, the Kikuto widows stand in front of trenches they dug after a demonstration with the Kamomo Environment Group, in order to combat soil erosion.

“Taking accounts” can be a lively process. Some widows groups don’t have a secretary because the members are illiterate so Jovanice helps every month to manage their accounts. Whatever amount of money gathered, every little bit counts to help someone who needs it to buy beans or porridge flour.

Quiet dignity. The widows I met demonstrated warmth, courage and graciousness even though their circumstances would make any First World citizen cringe. I’m blessed to have spent time with them.

Country road, take me home…

One of the memorable parts of living in the village was driving the dirt roads and experiencing bumps, dysentery thuds and oofs I’ve never had before in Canada.

Once you get off the major road running down past Mbarara from Kampala to head into my village, you leave behind all traces of tarmac (or asphalt). The dirt roads are susceptible to erosion from heavy rainfall and some areas have piles of murram (dirt used to patch holes in the ground) dotting several kilometres of road.

Usually, eucalyptus planks are de rigeur in forming makeshift bridges so vehicles can pass over rain-induced gullies and potholes. I broke through such a bridge once in Kikuto, because I was carrying over twenty people in the pickup and the wooden boards, although strong, weren’t sturdy enough that time!

The road to Binyuga cell is the most fraught with hideous potholes and gullies. Jovanice is standing in front of a humongous pothole that could easily hide several people. We visited this particular cell several times and each time we ended up “footing” it there for half an hour instead of driving. At least it gave me an authentic excuse when I returned to camp to treat myself to my granola bar or chocolate stash.