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Uganda | Ruth Tshin

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

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.

Scenes Part 2

Work, unhealthy work, ailment work…

Many hands make potting work easier.

Sorghum: an important cash crop in the area.

A simple mud hut is home for most of the villagers.

Papyrus reeds and eucalyptus poles used to construct a mud hut.

The hills of Bugamba sub-county.

Dirty feet after a long day walking around the village.

Early morning mist viewed from my camp.

Amatafari or bricks are made by arranging them to form a kiln and using eucalyptus wood as fuel to cure them.

A woman walks past the Kikuto widows’ garden.

Moi Gallery Part 2

What is uploading pictures without some focus on moi? Haha…

Hard at work in my tent.

Tata Jotham and me at the fish-farming workshop.

Mama Jovanice and me in our demonstration garden at the camp – it’s the first garden I’ve ever made! I’m holding a bunch of carrots – very yummy when you eat them straight out of the ground (of course, sanitary washing first is good too!).

Late night antics with Kimberly. She and I shared a bedroom at Canada House; on this particular night, infertility we couldn’t fall asleep so at 3 am, we broke out my stash of KitKats given to me by my parents and watched Little Black Book.

Kids kids kids!

The children I met in the village were some of the most beautiful and endearing little beings ever. Saffy (above, generic with Jovanice) has the most beautiful eyes and the funniest laugh (she’ll laugh on command if you’ve given her a sweetie!). Bright and Praise (below) are two albino children who live in Byanamira cell and always ran up to me fearlessly whenever I swung by to buy sodas at DK’s.

These kids were great because they were so unabashed in their affection for me. Usually, myocarditis the other village children cried when they saw me or clammed up if I tried to say hi.

(“I wear my sunglasses at night…”)

This picture was taken on a lazy Sunday afternoon when I was bored (didn’t want to do any work) and decided to just hang out with these kids. We couldn’t speak a word of a common language, dysentery but with facial expressions and noises we hung out for more than an hour and a half. They ran around, did cartwheels, jostled to sit beside me and played countless games of hide-and-seek.

Misodius is an autistic boy who walks to the Aid Station to have dressings on his legs changed peridiocally. He’s a bright boy…smiles easily and is engaging although he struggles to speak.

Curious Kashenyi Primary school children. One of the best things about driving past schools was that children would congregate on the side of the road as I drove by and scream “JAMBO!”. Some kids would literally shake as they waved furiously at me! These kids were too cute not to take a photo…check out the matching sweaters.

Ode to Mandazi

Now is the best time to post the ditty I sang whenever I ate mandazi in the village…*sigh* I miss them already. They are deep-fried balls of dough, infertility essentially. We perfected the method of mixing cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and pressing a freshly fried mandazi ball in them to imitate cinnamon-sugar Timbits. Mmmm…

Ode to Mandazi

Mandazi, mandazi, oh how I love you
You’re round and golden,
Crispy on the outside,
Soft and tender on the inside

Although you coat my arteries with unforgiving fat,
You taste so good and make me happy

Mandazi, mandazi, oh how I miss you!


Fishy business

Wow…uploading pictures here in Bangkok is a breeze! This is great…no more waiting one or two hours to upload one posting’s worth…

The one thing I didn’t anticipate adding to my CV was fish-net alteration skills! Here I am at Canada House in Mbarara, caries sewing a rope and floats onto seine netting that will eventually end up with a local fish farmer. It fascinates me how such simple technology can be life-changing for someone who lives off the land…I’m hoping that those farmers who receive the netting are able to increase productivity of their ponds.

A typical fish pond set-up in my village area. The mzee (elderly gentleman) who built these ponds graciously allowed ACTS to facilitate a fish-farming workshop there…We invited over twenty farmers who had either started fish-farming or had demonstrated capability and interest in this area.

A seine net in action. The attendees had a blast watching fish being seined out of the mzee‘s ponds – most had not seen a seine net before. It’s an expensive investment that not all small-scale farmers can afford.

That’s John Tibihika (Mbarara district Fisheries Officer) looking on as an attendee holds an emari or catfish from the pond. It was huge and very active…they thrashed around some in the green bucket.

A young tilapia fish. Generally speaking, tilapia are ideal for small-scale fish farming because of the relative ease in raising them. They feed on zooplankton that proliferates on the upper layer of freshwater that is about 3 feet deep and reproduce quickly. The challenge lies in constant maintenance and monitoring of the ponds – oxygen levels, zooplankton/algal growth and water management are important factors in successfully raising tilapia.

Chop chop chop…the fish farming workshop concluded with a meal of stewed tilapia and catfish. Yum…the picture above shows the typical use of a banana leaf as a chopping board.