What I saw in Uganda
And why it is “the Pearl of Africa!”
Plus sanitary efforts to keep girls in school
As my time wraps up in Uganda, I visit schools that have received water points through Water to Thrive and another funder, Blood Water out of Nashville, Tennessee.
Providing a well or safe water point is more than just water, it provides opportunities for other initiatives. Our partner in Uganda, PaCT, focuses on education, healthcare including prevention of diseases, maternal and infant health, human rights and economic empowerment.
Included in their education and water components, they work with schools in educating children about the importance of planting trees and other vegetation to prevent erosion and to provide fruit for the school. Songs are a great way to get children excited and to promote such ideas as washing their bodies, practicing safe hygiene such as hand washing and even education about menstruation!
Many young girls quit school because there are no private places to change their pads or because of embarrassment. The schools teach that menstruation is a normal part of life for a girl and they even involve the boys.
At one school, each class sent a representative in the production of reusable pads, boys included. The pads are sold in the market as an income generating activity. The proceeds are reinvested in the project. The school girls can purchase the pads at wholesale so that they can continue to attend school during their cycle.
Although much of Uganda is rural (80% of the population lives in rural areas) they are a country rich in biodiversity and offer much to the person willing to look deeper. In fact, Winston Churchill called Uganda, the “Pearl of Africa” due to the landscapes, wildlife, beautiful and warm people.
While leading vision trips with W2T donors, I like to expose travelers to the beauty they will encounter and not just see through the eyes of a westerner as we tend to focus on lack and poverty.
Even with many problems including lack of safe water to drink, Uganda is truly the Pearl of Africa.
Uganda straddles the equator so offers warm, sunny weather with lots of life giving rain. If you like wildlife, you can visit any one of their 12 game reserves or ten national parks where you can encounter the big five, go mountain gorilla trekking, or bird watching with 1,040 species.
On an afternoon of waiting for COVID results before traveling to Ethiopia, I was treated to some time in beautiful Jinja which is the source of the White Nile. Although I didn’t try it out, you can bungee into the waters, tube or kayak the rapids. However, when offered a dare to wade into the cooling waters of the Nile, I didn’t hesitate to take a dip.
Uganda is like many African nations and is comprised of many tribes and languages, but due to the use of English, it is an easy country for Americans to visit.
I’ve missed being here and love visiting the staff at the many lodges and places we stay. It is heartwarming to know they’ve been awaiting my arrival for almost two years. Most heartwarming is the thanks I receive knowing that the work of Water to Thrive is addressing a big problem for so many people in the rural areas.
Even with many problems including lack of safe water to drink, Uganda is truly the Pearl of Africa and I welcome any interested travelers to join me on the next W2T vision trip. I promise – you’ll be tired, hungry, hot, thristy,….you’ll laugh a lot and will probably cry as well, but most importantly, you’ll be changed and see how many experiences offer the chance to reset your perspective and become someone with a softer heart and a more giving soul.
About The Author: Susanne Wilson
Susanne holds a Master of Science degree in secondary education, an MBA from Auburn University, and a certificate in Nonprofit Management. She has been a leader in the non-profit sector since 2001, working with both post-secondary educational institutions and now serves as Executive Director of Water to Thrive.
More posts by Susanne Wilson