I'm finally here in Uganda, sitting on a very comfortable sofa on Ugandan Independence Day , finding the time to write this blog.
Last Saturday, operating on just an hour's sleep, I made the journey from London's Heathrow Airport to Brussels, and then on from there to Entebbe, Uganda via Kigali, Ruanda. I did have a small run-in with security, thanks, for the most part to my hand-pump coffee maker, a device that looks a little unusual but is very helpful. It was a gift from my daughter and her boyfriend for my birthday this year – to enable me to have my (essential) morning espresso on Kome Island where I’ll be visiting next week. (Thank you, Tabitha and Tom)
But I digress. When I arrived at Entebbe Airport I was greeted (very warmly) by the Director of Wellspring Uganda, Herbert Kanyenya and one of his community team members, Kakinda Denis. Thanks to them I felt at home right away.
On Sunday, Herbert and Eve took me to their church, where I remade the acquaintance of a lot of my Ugandan friends. If you ever have the chance to go to an African church – don’t miss it out! Every church service is a joy!
Spending that first day with my Local Partner was a great start to the visit. I think it's very important to refresh that relationship before the 'real work' begins. It's always my goal to ensure that I adapt to their culture and not them to adapt to mine. This is one of the reasons why they see me more as a part of their family. But still a Mzungo.
A Mzungo, by the way, is a name which refers to people of European descent. I hear it often, but am never offended. Especially when I am in rural villages where they are not used to seeing “Mzungos”, I'm often the attraction of the day.
Yesterday at 5 am, we started our day and drove up to 300km to Eastern Uganda close to the Kenyan border. I had the privilege in Mbale to meet with leaders from different regions and the opportunity to have a short talk about Bluseeds – dignity and hope. The feedback was great and we will certainly be extending our work to Eastern Uganda.
I’m always amazed by their entrepreneurial spirit. I met leaders who desperately want to change the circumstances for their community. World-Changers like us! For me it's so important that we work with local partners who have their hearts in the right place while also meeting of all other professional requirements we have.
From the meeting in Mbale, we travelled straight to Tororo, which is approximately 50km away and visited one of the partners from Wellspring Africa. There, the leader showed me the school he is running and some small businesses around the area.
Of the around 4,000 children in Bernard’s community, only a small percentage come from families who can afford to send them to school. afforded schooling. Education is, along with the other three pillars of our plan - – daily food, basic medical care, and a safer environment - the key to lifting people from the poverty they currently live in. So it is one of the main goals of Bluseeds to help enable parents to send their children to school. In my opinion, Bluseeds is not a traditional charity and I see me, my team, our entrepreneurs and their families more as a movement – a movement out of poverty into an independent life. Nobody deserves poverty.
I think you agree with me that we have to change this! So, over the next 10 days, I have to work out how we can seed our Bluseeds in Eastern Uganda to help build the biggest tree, with many branches, for the benefit of the next generation.
After a 20 hour work day, I’m finally here in my base and have time this morning to keep you informed about my journey. Please feel free to share your opinions and views in the comments.
If you want an even closer look at my journey in Uganda please follow us on Instagram(bluseeds_dignityandhope) where I'm providing continuous live updates.
Back home in my safe little European bubble, I'm still recovering from the trip, all the work I did there and, sadly, the side effects of my malaria tablets!
It's been three years since we began our work in Uganda. And I can see that, along with other local initiatives in the fields of health care, family planning, hygiene, housing and so on, that Bluseeds, in enabling individuals to start a business in their own community, adds an important additional element in the development of sustainable communities. Read on and reflect - and look forward - with me.