13 months preparing and 6 years of pilots within Enactus. It is time WSV stepped foot on the ground, taking the first step towards the Million, Million, Million plan.
In the north, in Lira, we will be training the International Refugee trust (IRT) and Organisation for Community Action (OCA) to set up Petal, Roots and Right Light social enterprises.
Going south, we will be training the Parish of St. James and the Parish of Bittern Park of the Church of England, and their partner parishes in Naminage and Bupadhengo to establish Petal enterprises.
20kg of training materials, 30kg of kit and 10kg of clothes between two of us and a 20-hour journey flying over 13 countries, ended with us gracefully gliding over the green covered islands of Lake Victoria. We arrived in Uganda, a beautiful country with happy smiling people, you would never guess that poverty was such an issue.
A fewthings we learnt during our first two days in Uganda and journey from Kampala to Lira:
The drought has not dried up spirits
Being from the wet city of London, UK. It’s hard for us to imagine, let alone understand, the destruction and terror of a drought. But right now, Lira, 36 degrees, is facing a serious drought. Animals, wild and farmed, are dying. The weather patterns have been unpredictable in recent years, with people struggling to adapt. In spite of this, as we made our 6-hour journey from Kampala, the people were smiling, laughing and carrying on strong; a resilient people. All around us for miles, fields were being burnt as communities prepared the land for the life giving and overdue rains. We are told that when the rain starts, life currently dormant rushes into green and bloom.
The Chinese have made camp
As we passed town after town and all the Chinese built roads in between, the streets were crowded by bustling markets, intense with competition. Chinese everything was being sold; Chinese lorries, Chinese phones, Chinese hydropower plants, Chinese rice fields. Only cheap things on sale though, even the good Chinese products are still out the reach of the people. Even so, the Chinese have well and truly made their camp in Uganda.
School of entrepreneurs
Government schools in Uganda often have over 100 students in a class. Teachers are over worked, poorly paid and many are absent. Our driver, Hassan, the motor loving encyclopaedia of Uganda, drives several times a week to Lira and provides tours to all manner of clientele. He works 3 times as hard as he needs to so he can send his children to a private school and give them every advantage in life.
But when pressured, people fight back… fight hard and triumph. As we neared Lira we saw fields and fields of papyrus. Teachers from schools use the papyrus to make all manner of products to sell to parents. Each shilling helps to better educate one more child and pay one more teacher closer to what they deserve.
The 6 kings and many tribes
I have a few Ugandan friends, and done a fair amount of preparation before coming here. In all my conversations and google searches, I did not once hear that Uganda has 6 kings each owning all the land in their territory. Only the north has no king and is ruled by tribes, one of which is the Luo people. The Luo originated in South Sudan and became refugees as they fled conflict to settle in northern Uganda (around Lira)… and in Kisumu Kenya, where the WSV journey began.
This introduction blog marks the start of WSV’s drive to the Million, Million, Million plan and we would not have chosen a more beautiful place to start. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @WSocialVentures for updates.