In October 2019, I visited a local NGO, SORAK development agency in Uganda and observed its activities. This is a report of description of what I happened and felt during that time.
Originally, I sometimes travel backpackers, and on average I go on a medium to long-term trip once every few years.
My most interesting part of such trips is “the lives of the local people”.
This is because through that, I can get a glimpse of the differences in culture, values and the problems faced by each society, which I find very useful in expanding my horizons.
Before I went to Uganda, I wanted to see the poverty and social problems of African countries with my own eyes, but I didn’t have any connection in Africa.
So, I requested “Global Bridge Network” to assist and it introduced me to two local NGOs from Uganda which has enabled me to be heading to the sites like always by myself.
|● Mubende Townscape|
First, I visited an NGO called “SORAK” which is active in the countryside of Mubendé.
In the morning of the first day, I met SORAK`s representatives, Mr.Muhammad. Then I visited its offices and SORAK-built school (which also serves as a childhood orphanage) and neighboring houses.
In the afternoon, I went to a small village nearby and saw a representative of SORAK giving a speech lecture at a women's association (Women gatherings seem to be common in villages of Uganda).
The content of the lecture was about knowledge that seemed to be useful in their daily life, such as efficient cultivation methods of crops and how to sell them.
I was given the opportunity to speak, so I asked them a question "What is the hardest part of your everyday life?"
Many people raised their hands and spoke positively, giving the following answers.
・ Job shortage
・ Male domination of women
・ Livestock disease
・ Drought / Poor harvests
・ Distance to the hospital and transportation costs
・ Hospitals being closed on weekends
・ Husbands do not take HIV tests
・ Corruption of the police
・ Lack of knowledge / education
It was almost the same problems faced by most of the people in Africa, but I felt that it was a good trend that many people were aware of their lack of knowledge and education.
|● Participants presenting their opinions at women's association lectures|
For example, Before, there were many people who did not have the habit of washing their hands after visiting the toilet, which seemed to be the start point of the spread of diseases.
So, SORAK staff are now visiting households in small villages and making simple hand-washing devices beside the toilet.
If you have a tree branch, a small plastic bottle, and a string, you can make it in 5 minutes.
Also, there is a system of using pot-hole toilets in the gardens of each household, but when not in use, if you do not cover the hole, the flies might end up jumping onto your food.
In the result, it may lead to the spread of diseases. Therefore, there will also be need of making a toilet lid as well. This can be made free of charge because the material is only plastic fragments, tree branches and nails.
|Villagers using simple hand-washing
equipment installed by SORAK |
The fourth day was the Uganda Independence Day(Oct 9), so there was no work and SORAK'ｓschool held a party at school.
This party is also for a school and a graduation ceremony. Basically, children spend a day singing and dancing and performing musicals.
Uganda children are carefree, and even to me who doesn’t like children, I feel they are cute.
At first glance, there seems to be no bullying.
Ironically, maybe there are more bullies in countries with economic development.
Finally, I spent 4 days with the people of “SORAK” and had a great experience.
They were always kind to me that I was able to eat rice several times for free, and every day, I was picked up by car to a cheap hotel where I stayed.
|● School students of SORAK`s built school|
The NGO called “HOPE FOR THE FUTURE” and supports slums in the town of Entebbe.
The managing director of the organization took me to the actual slum, gave me a lot of explanations, and was able to see the residents' homes.
This seemed to be even worse than the rural people supported by SORAK, and many homes in Uganda are made of bricks, but their homes were made of soil and wood.
In addition, many homes were collapsing, and there were no toilets in each family.
Furthermore, even if there are schools, there is no money to send the child to school, and many of the children are not able to go to school.
Many children had abdominal swellings due to malnutrition.
The cause of poverty seems to be due to the fact that there are many single mothers, there is almost no work, and unlike the villages in the countryside, there are no fields to do farming.
At HOPE FOR THE FUTURE, it seems that there is still lack of funds, and also the support is not yet enough
|● Slum children|
|● State in residents' house|
By the way, Uganda seems to have many local NGOs run by Ugandans.
I wondered if there were so many Ugandans who could afford to donate even though the country was economically poor, but most of the donations seem to come from overseas NGOs and individuals.
Europe and the United States have a culture of donating more than Japan, so I think many of them come from such places.
Even with all kinds of problems, I feel that assistance for the education of children is especially needed.
If children are not educated, the next generation will remain poor and will not be able to escape the negative chain.
Support for education is support for independence.
Also, since children cannot choose the country where they born and their parents as well. Although in Japan, where we have a strong theory of self-responsibility, I think there are many Japanese people who can support this, especially if it’s about education.
Not only in Uganda, but just looking at news from around the world about problems in the world, if you don't know the actual situation in detail, you won't have a sense of realism and will not be willing to help. When you look at it, you can see the actual situation and get the feeling.
So, first, I think I would like many people to visit the site and see the facts with their own eyes.
|● Lake Victoria near the slum|
Because it is a far country, air tickets are not cheap, but the local prices are cheap, so it was not so expensive.
I stayed in a cheap hotel for around 900 yen per night in a private room with a flush toilet and water shower.
There are also some sightseeing spots such as safari tours.
At last, I stayed in Uganda for a total of about two weeks and apart from the time when I visited the NGO, I traveled around the country alone and had much fun.
I hope many people can have a chance to go to Uganda once.