Over the last few months, I have been saying I will be leaving for Uganda at the end of January; I will be leaving at the end of the month; I will be leaving in a couple of weeks; I will be leaving in a week.
Now, finally, I can say I will be leaving TOMORROW. Yep, I will very soon be on my way to Bududa.
Before I go, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has been reading this blog, sending me notes of encouragement, and supporting my GoFundMe campaign.
It has been an amazing experience. Long term friends, new friends, and people I only met recently have all confirmed what a privilege it is to go to Bududa, lend a hand at the Learning Center, and immerse myself in a totally different culture. When my excitement ebbed a little and anxiety about a month in a rural African village began to creep in, someone was always there to remind me that I am lucky to be able to do this. Helping those in need is a gift that flows in both directions.
And if I get to see a few elephants and giraffes along the way, it is icing on a very sweet cake.
In answer to some questions folks have been asking, I have listed below some specifics of the trip.
- At noon on Tuesday, January 28, a car service will take Barbara Wybar, Founder of the Bududa Learning Center, Jim Sharp, can-do guy and good friend, and me to Newark Airport.
- Brussels Airlines flies us to Brussels. It takes over 7 hours.
- Because of the change of time zones, we arrive in the early morning local time.
- After a two-hour layover, we leave for Kigali. I had to look up Kigali. It is the capital of Rwanda.
- An hour layover and on to Entebbe, Uganda, where it is 11 PM local time. Back in Philadelphia it is not yet dinner time – six-hour time difference.
- Hope I can sleep because first thing in the morning Uganda time, we are going to nearby Kampala. It is the largest city in Uganda with almost two million residents and world class traffic jams.
- Jim and I will help Barbara shop for supplies for Bududa and pick up some carpentry tools for the carpentry shop at the Learning Center. We will sleep that night in Kampala so we can leave early the next day for Bududa.
- Barbara knows a driver who will take us the village. It is 260 K, but because the rural roads that look more like skateboard parks than highways, it is an all-day drive.
I won’t try to describe life in the village until I have actually been there. Listed below are a few facts:
- English is the official language of Uganda and taught in elementary schools. There are many tribal languages, but most young people also speak English.
- Bududa is a village, population 4,200 and elevation 4,300 feet, in the eastern region of Uganda north of Lake Victoria and bordering Kenya.
- Bududa is also the name of a District, a designation that is equivalent to a State in the US. This district has one of the highest birth rates in the world, and the income level is among the lowest. During the past 15-years the population of the district has doubled from 123,000 to almost 250,000.
- We will be sleeping in a guest house that has electricity but no indoor plumbing. Can you say Pit Toilet?
- Electricity is scarce, expensive, and often unreliable in Bududa.
- Cell phones are ubiquitous and the internet is available, but slow and unreliable
- The Bududa Learning Center is a one mile walk from the guest house. It was established 15 years ago by Barbara . It has a full-time staff offering three programs that serve and support members of the community:
- The Bududa Vocational Academy is a full-time secondary academy teaching technical skills and trades including Tailoring and Sewing, Carpentry and Woodworking, Brick Laying/Masonry, Nursery Education/Early Childhood Development, Hair Dressing, and Computer Science.
- Barbara has raised funds to add Auto Mechanics to the Academy.
- The Bududa Women’s Development Group is a hub for micro loan distribution and teaches women money management and business skills.
- Children of Bududa is a sponsorship program providing placement, health care and educational enrichment for approximately 115 of the community’s orphans and vulnerable youth.
My tentative plan is to teach in the Woodworking program and to produce videos to help the Bududa Learning Center thrive and serve the local people . I also hope to use video to document traditional folk tales, music, and dance.
Thanks again for your interest and support. I will continue this blog while I am in Bududa and look forward to sharing videos, pictures, and stories of my experience when I return.