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Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda - 2012

Really slumming it!
Really slumming it!

6th June

Well, some of you might be pleased to hear I made it through the night without being reduced to a smouldering heap, but the static played havoc with my hair.... took some settling down! We bade farewell to Kenya today, departing through Busia checkpoint, and said hello to Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, as it calls it's self. I have to say thank you to our driver Daniel in Kenya, he was good company and it was good to catch up with him again....hope our paths cross again. (subtle hint there SAC!) Uganda is a contrast to Kenya. Within a hundred yards of the border it was noticible. I noticed it last time was here in 2006, and don't think it has altered much. Last night I was filled with optimism for African agriculture, but driving into Uganda the difference is there to see, contrasting sharply with the clean and tidy towns of Kenya, with generally good roads.

Uganda on the other hand looks untidy and more poverty stricken. The main road from Busia is the A109 and runs the width of the continent nearly, from Mombasa to Congo was tremendous however, resurfaced and as smooth as a babies bottom,as it might be said. There is a massive EU investment program on it, which is helping. Off that road though, well... Different story. I can't begin to describe the roads they were that rough. It wasn't really safe to drive on, swerving to avoid potholes all the time. And this was the main road to Mbale, not just some back road.

One thing that doesn't change though are the people. We visited several families in the area near Mbale, and all were so happy to see use and so welcoming, greeting us with songs and shouts of real joy. And these were families who hadnt even got a cow yet, they were about 11 months into the program, but had seen massive differences already with simple changes in farming practices. To say they were looking forwards to getting a cow was a massive understatement! It was summed up best I think when we visited one family, whose 3 acre plot was smart and tidy with some great maize growing, contrasting with some poor stunted crops we had to walk through to get there. The farmer, Patrick, told us his story. He and his wife are caring for 11 children, 7 of his own and 4 orphans from other family. He joined the group when he learned about it, the main reason was to provide his children a means of a living for the future, after he found out that he and his wife were HIV positive, and his children weren't. Being part of this group has helped him financially and socially too.

The group had a surprise for us too, organising a full group meeting for us to attend this evening. We gathered late afternoon and were serenaded by song and dance from the members, and a speech from the chairwoman, though not at the same time obviously! After a reply from us, they set too and served us supper. It was really good, but I couldn't tell you what it was really as by this time it had gone dark, and the meeting was taking place in someone's garden and there was no extra lighting. There was avocado in there somewhere, and I think it was chicken....but a lot of things taste like chicken I'm told, so who knows!

After the adventures of the hotel the last couple of nights, tonight we are staying in a hotel of luxury! Swimming pool, gym, the works. I was fancying a swim. We checked in at around 1pm, and understood we only had a couple of places to see, not long at all......well, it was well after 9 when we got back, so no swimming. So near, and yet so far...... More travelling tomorrow as we head to Jinga and the source of the Nile, for a slightly more relaxed day, apart from the bone shaking road journey to get there!

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