Sunday, March 13, 2011

Reflections from Northern Uganda

Team Uganda apologies for the lack of posts. We have been up in Northern Uganda with no access to internet. We have had an amazing couple of days with a lot of moving and impactful moments, hope, and a strong desire to find a sustainable solution to the water situation we have seen first hand here. But as a team, we believe this opportunity is bigger than water.

Since our last post where we visited our first SILC group we have had the opportunity to travel to four more villages in Northern Uganda. Most of these villages are people who were in the in the IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) Camps for the last 20 years and have now returned back to their villages with in the last 2 years. These people are starting over with a threat looming of the rebel army coming back.

We had incredible meetings with all the villages. Each village we visited we would further perfect our method for running the meetings. In the end we began the meeting with the whole group – our team, CRS, and the men and the women of the village attending the meetings. From there we would break out into small groups, each with a translator – a women’s group, a men’s group, and a mixed group. We felt that we got the best insights from these breakout sessions where the groups were smaller and the people, particularly the women, felt more comfortable opening up to us.

We have so many stories from these visits that we thought we would just share a few insights and stories in this post:

  • As mentioned earlier, many of the people in the villages we met with had been living in IDP camps up until about 2 years ago. Within these villages, we met some incredible powerful people that were orphaned or abducted from their villages by the rebels. Their stories impacted every member of our team. We are still processing these interactions
  • We all felt the frustration of the opportunity within the villages. So much of their focus is on obtaining basic needs (getting water, food, etc) that planning for the future is not taken into account. In fact, the word future doesn’t exist in some of the local languages.
  • There is so much potential and hope of the people in the communities we met with this week.
  • One amazing aspect of all the villages we met with was the strength of the communities and their interest in working together to become better and help each other out
  • We’ve been eating a lot of local food such as ground hogs (edible rats), goat (including goat intestines), chicken, beef… Greg wins the prize for the most adventurous eater.
  • Oscar was the first to test out the sanitation practices of the village and the first ever to receive a standing ovation from the entire community upon exiting the latrine.

We are now headed out for Indian food in Kampala to decompress from our intense week!

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