Sunday, July 27, 2008

Uganda- Week One

We are safely here in Uganda! Our first few days were spent in the capital Kampala, a bustling city intertwined between 7 green hills. We were given a tour of the office, a overview of the programs currently running in Uganda, and introductions of all the staff. After recouping from jet lag we set off on the 6 hour journey into the Western Region. I cannot even begin to explain the way this other-worldly beauty of landscape mixes so intently with a poverty of vast proportions. It leaves your heart with a simultaneous sense of awe and twinge of pain. Passing village upon village we were greeted with open smiling faces. Faces not confined or defined by circumstances. We spent the rest of our week working alongside the livestock program and more specifically the fish farm projects. SP has assisted 19 families in the planning, building, and maintain of personal fish farms. The project helps to generate income for the families and serves as a protein supplement to their diets. The ponds are poly-culture which means they are stocked with multiple species (tilapia and catfish in this case) and often reach well over a 100ft on each side. As we visited from family to family I was overwhelmed by their stories. Each one sharing uniquely about the immense impact this project has had on their personal lives. One man was eager to tell me how he was finally able to afford a new roof after selling some of his fish at the market.

Sorry for the overload of pictures but this is honestly a fraction of the beauty which has passed through my lens in the last week.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Photo Essay #2- Basse Car Park

As most of you know we are currently back in the US of A, but only for 3 weeks. On July 19th we will be leaving for Uganda to serve with a Christian International Development/Disaster Relief Organization by the name of Samaritan's Purse.
During our last few weeks in Basse, I had the opportunity to interview a gentleman by the name of Omar Baldeh. Omar was very soft spoken and juggled each question I asked between a slight pause and his thousand yard stare. You can find Omar sitting under the bantaba on the outskirts of Basse, along the dusty red dirt road cutting through the bush to Senegal. Most likely he will be wearing his olive green haftan and a zebra stripped beanie, which stands as a statement of personal defiance against the 120 degree heat. Omar has spent his entire life here scratching out a living by taking passengers back and forth between Basse (The Gambia) and Velingara (Senegal); a distance of about 15 miles. His vehicle is an old 1970 something Peugot, which seems to be barely clinging on to life. It was no doubt sent over from France as scrap metal but somewhere along the way it was semi-resurrected. The fare for a one-way trip is 65 Dalasis ($3.20) and that includes all the adventures of having to disembark multiple times due to flat tires, a traffic jam behind 20 cows, and a push start each time the vehicle is turned off. The younger boys featured in the slideshow are Omar's apperantis (apprentices). When they aren't ridding on the roof, they act as luggage loaders, vehicle jump starters, and mechanics.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Photo Essay - Basse Motorcycle Workshop

Welcome to Basse's Motorcycle Workshop. Here is where Basse's population brings their motorcycles for tune ups or repairs. Basse is somewhat unique in that a large portion of its population uses motorcycles as their primary means of transportation. I was recently able to interview a young apprentice or "apperanti" named Mohammadou Jallow. Mohammadou grew up in Basse along with most of his extended family. At the age of 16, due to lack of funds, he was forced to drop out of school and start working as a motorcycle mechanic's apprentice. For the last 3 years Mohammadou and 4 other apprentices have been working under the close supervision and tutelage of the master mechanic. Currently, he uses his salary to help his family pay for living costs and his siblings' school fees. His dream is to save up enough money and open his own motorcycle repair shop.

Mohammadou Jallow - Motorcycle Apprentice

Apprentices at the motorcycle workshop.

Mr. Jallow taking a break and brewing some attaya.

Mohammadou's close friend and fellow apprentice, Demba.