David and I have just finished our final week in Uganda. Including my previous trip, I have now been in Uganda for four months and they have made me feel so welcome. After Australia, Uganda is my second home.
We wrapped production on our shoot at Buwooya Mission School after interviewing the Headmistress and Director of the project, once again in another sound booth built out of foam mattresses from a nearby house. With all the photos and videos we have captured from our time with the school, we are very excited to start editing it together to show you the journey and struggles that this school has been on for the past 7 years.
Our experience in the village was a great insight into the lives that people live in rural Uganda. The lack of running water, no electricity running into your house to give you light at night and no paved roads and footpaths has given us a lot to be grateful for in Australia. Simple tasks like brushing your teeth, having a shower, charging your phone become much more difficult. But those struggles are tiny compared to the issues facing many of the people we met.
Two boys, Weswa and Yusufu, lived near the school and became our close friends whilst we stayed at Buwooya. They could not speak much English, and we could not speak much Lugandan, but they loved photos. Whilst shooting the story for Buwooya Mission School, we also captured their personal stories, and how the school has helped them.
Just a short, five minute motorbike ride away from Buwooya Mission School is Lake Victoria, the second largest lake in the world. David and I took our camera gear down one afternoon to capture some portraits of the children who live beside the lake. These children live here as their parents are fishermen. They do not earn enough money to send their children to school, but once the children turn 14, they too follow their parents and start fishing. All around the shore were small silverfish which they had caught, food which we would often eat during our stay in the town of Buwooya. When shooting these portraits we were cautious of crocodiles, as there were several concerning reports of crocodile attacks in nearby areas. An issue facing the community which lives by the lake is sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and AIDS, which has broken families, creating widows and orphans.
Uganda is a country with a dark history, with previous Presidents Obote and Idi Amin causing the deaths of thousands of Ugandans under their reign, and the civil war which followed. The population of Uganda is one of the youngest in the world, they often say it is very hard to find the grandmothers and grandfathers. However, it is a country which is recovering, and what we have seen from our time with Rafiki Africa Ministries and Buwooya Mission School are committed individuals who care for their communities, and see the potential of the younger generation, and how they can be the ones who shape the future of this growing country. I am hopeful for Uganda, and look forward to see how the country has changed when I return.
As I publish this blog, David and I are now in Ethiopia on our way to meet Valerie Browning, an Australian nurse who has committed her life to helping the people of the Afar region, which stretches across Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. She started and continues to run the Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA) which is one of the two projects supported by EthiopiAid which I will be visiting in our time in Ethiopia.
This story is one I am very excited to tell.