The Student.Go Uganda team has been BUSY over the last few weeks and was without access to communication (and occasionally without power and water) until just the last several days. With just under a week remaining, our team will try and catch you up on our adventures over our remaining time in Uganda as well as when we return to the States. Thanks for all your prayers!
To say that June 4 was a memorable day is an understatement. This was the day we purchased the nets and went east to the district of Kapchorwa. I thought that we would drive to a local warehouse full of nets where we would load them up and then be on our way. I was a little off.
We ended up purchasing 2,000 PermaNet treated mosquito nets because of the overwhelming amount of contributions from so many people! This blessing also meant we had to be ready to tackle the beast of obtaining this large quantity as well as transporting them. We met the salesman in Kampala city center. He then led a few of us on foot through busy streets, markets, and even a shopping area into the basement of a market full of small stalls of varied goods. This is where we found a small net vendor whom we ended up working with. Then began a waiting process that would take about two hours before the nets were in our bus.
Did I mention this was after we had waited for about two hours trying to get a Western Union transfer of funds to actually purchase the nets? June 3 was a national holiday, meaning that we couldn’t obtain the money that day. It took visits to three different banks on June 4 to actually acquire the money because of the lack of power at one branch and then the lack of funds at another.
The nets were finally purchased, but then we had to figure out how to get 1,800 nets (200 circular were purchased later) back to the bus which was about a ten minute walk uphill through the streets we had crammed ourselves to get to the shop in the first place. This was solved by hiring four men to carry the 18 bags of 100 nets a piece to a truck we hired on a street behind the marketplace and then have that truck drive up the hill to the bus. The men placed the bags that were no lighter than 60 pounds on their heads and just hustled out to a small pickup truck outside where other men stacked the bags. I was able to help oversee the process of carrying and loading for about half an hour beside the truck counting each bag as it made it’s way. We were certainly a bit out of place as the only mzungus (white people) on the busy streets and got plenty of stares of confusion from passersby.
After the nets were loaded and “tied” down, the driver of course asked for more money before we took off to the bus. Nothing ever seems to be quite final when agreed upon in Uganda. I rode up front with the driver. Peter, a Refuge & Hope employee, said I could not ride on top of the bundles in the back because, “I don’t want rafting to happen again.” This was in response to the MDG team falling out rafting last summer on the Nile.
The bus was parked right across the street from the central police station, meaning that we could not park right across the street with a car full of white people and a poorly loaded truck with nets shifting almost completely off the side. Seems as there may have been some legal issues involved. Both vehicles went a distance up the street whereupon the men took to carrying the bags quickly after stopping of the side of the road. After a few minutes, the back of the bus was overloaded with nets and we were on our way to finishing packing. Then it was off to Kapchorwa. We stopped at a fast food joint at a gas station in Jinja and finally made it to the hotel about 11 at night, about 6 hours after we had expected to arrive.
The day was full of unexpected twists and turns, but God was so good in making sure that each net made it to the bus and that we safely arrived in Kapchorwa that evening. Others will continue to update you on the happenings of our team, but for now we thank you for the prayers and ask you to continue to pray over the next several days. See you in the States on Thursday!