Priceless Pictures around Kampala

Since I've had some longer text-posts lately, I thought I would do more of a photo entry. These are some great pictures one of our long-term volunteers Christoph took while he was here and passed on to me. He caught some great stuff - some funny, some interesting, some amazing, but all enjoyable! Thanks for your great picture-taking Christoph! (top) A picture of me, at work in my office. I share it with architect Liz (background) and Intern Coordinator Megan (not shown). Intern Zach was in our office for this picture - a great guy who I've been mentoring during his time here. (next) a picture of Kampala at dusk. (next) It's small, but can you see the 'Hotel' hand-painted sign on the outside of this shack? I'm thinking at most it's maybe a 1/8-star joint. I bet it comes with a continental breakfast though. ;) (next) A couple of local kids and their pretty impressive creation - a small car made out of wire and bottle lids, complete with a go-cart sized steering wheel he can push and steer. (next) This is a matatu (taxi) driver adding some gas to his vehicle after running out. If you look closely, he's using a 5000-shilling note as a funnel. What these people lack in resources, they often make up for in resourcefulness! (next) a view of the 'Taxi Park' in downtown Kampala - the true center of the city where everything branches out from. Hold on to your belongings and act like you know what you're doing though, as pick-pocketers abound in this place, often preying on the lost-looking mzungus! (next two) bicycles are often used as more than mere modes of transportation, as these two guys exhibit. The first one is carrying a load of Matoke, a type of green banana that is not eaten raw, and tastes more like potato when it's cooked. The second guy is carrying sugar cane. (next) next up is the "Nice Butcher". I'm thinking he came up with the name to soften his public image, maybe so prospective wives wouldn't be scared off. Note that there is no electricity, and therefore no refrigeration. This is typical for most butcher shops around. Needless to say, we don't buy our meat from the butcher shops, as they commonly have large slabs of meat hanging out in broad daylight in 85-degree, sunny weather. I don't think their health department grade is going to rise above an F- anytime soon. (last) Finally, perhaps my favorite picture of them all. For some reason, it can be really hard to find an electrician around here...maybe it's because they have all died! It looks like this one is taking a couple of friends out with him (the guys holding the bottom of the METAL ladder that is resting on the power line he is fixing!).
I don't mean any disrepect by making fun of some of these pictures, but to us in the West the lack of safety and health standards can appear in very humerous ways. It's also at the same time shocking and fascinating sometimes to see how these people have learned to adapt to living in very difficult situations. The humor arises when we imagine something we see here happening back home, and the reaction it would cause. Sometimes the standard back home is absurd here(e.g. motorcycles waiting their turn at a red light and following the same rules of the road as cars). Other times, the standards here (e.g. parents leaving their 4-year toddler home all day while they are across town at work) can seem outrageous and even criminal back home. Obviously, we are biased towards our standards - and in many cases I think rightly so. But at the same time, it's important to keep an open mind towards things we see since much of the shocking stuff has it's root in the desperation the people have always known. What makes it really hard is that most people here don't see some of the basic problems in many aspects of the cultural habits here, so it can be aggravating when "improvement" is not welcomed with open arms. It also makes you question whether or not "improvement" really is improvement to them as long as there overall condition is unchanged. (i.e. if the mother stays home with the toddler, the family's financial situation may go from crisis to life-threatening). These are all hard questions to ask, and why third world persists to be third world in many (though not all) cases). The most anyone can do is try to help a little, do one thing for someone at a time, or improve one person or family's life at a time. It's a long path to raising the culture, but it seems like the only path forward.
Alisha and I have been thinking about how we could do that more. Right now, our supporters back home basically provide full-time jobs for 4 local Ugandans (our guards and house-help), and we feel so blessed to play a part in that. But we've thought about how we could possibly help some others raise themselves up - not just by giving away money, but maybe by using money wisely to give someone a chance for a better long-term life. We have some ideas, but nothing we're ready to cement in place yet. I'll keep you all posted. I know a couple people have expressed an interest in possibly helping people directly here, so if we can find the right situation we'll share it with you all. One thing that is exciting about helping people here is that a little bit of money can totally change the lives of a person or family, IF it is given in a wise manner (i.e. helping someone start a business, or finish school, etc). What might take $50,000 or more back home to have a similar impact can often be done here for less than $2,000.

Comments

lazrus2 said…
Your comments about the meat market reminded me of our time in Niger. Sometimes we would have meat delivered to us(usually leg of lamb), but mostly did get our beef from the open air market (no refrigeration and MANY flies). I only made the trip once (at least to the meat area- the goat heads sitting beside the next 'victim' tied to a post was just too much for my animal loving heart).

We 'aged' the meat in the frig. for a few days before cooking it and never got sick from any of it that I know of (washed and well cooked of course =).

So, do you have regular European style markets where you shop for your meat and other perishable items (besides fruit vendors on the street, etc.)?

Thanks for the great photos, and yes they are 'worth a thousand words' for sure =)!

Love to all,
Dana

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