Thursday, March 31, 2011


Today through 25 April looks something like this:

3,546 km - 2,203 miles

Masaka, Central/West
Hoima, West
Mbarara, West
Arua, North/West Nile
Mbale, East
Mukono, Central
Lake Bunyonyi, West

Hoo boy.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Katuso Primary School - United Future Foundation

Sixth months ago I had the opportunity to hop in my flatmate Dave's "ute" (that's Aussie for "truck") and "rock up to" (that's Aussie for "arrive at") the patch of land that the organization he co-founded had recently bought for the purpose of building a primary school. In the ensuing six months I had the pleasure of watching otherwise-mellow Dave reach all stages (which I know well) of near-panic and over-extension as he ostensibly oversaw the building of a nascent school, the hiring of four teachers and the enrollment of 81 local nursery (kindergarten) and Primary 1 (first grade) students. I finally had the opportunity to revisit the site and was - to put it lightly - stunned. Dave and United Future Foundation have put up what I will confidently say is the nicest, most well-thought out and most well-appointed village school I have seen in my year and a half in Uganda (and I've seen a fair number of schools...). The fact that I know that Dave managed to pull this off between early September and when the school term began on 30 January makes it all the more remarkable; well I know how the best-laid timelines can be waylaid in Uganda.

Beyond producing a remarkable environment for 81 students (and more soon...) in what must be record time, Dave is one of the most critical individuals I have met in the development world. Though he and I do have some fundamental disagreements about models of development, I cannot think of a person I would rather be doing the work that Dave is doing (and I continue to try to get him to change my mind about development...).

My hat is off to Dave and to UFF. Enjoy:

The UFF bus picks up some stragglers on the way

If that isn't love in her eyes, I don't know what is.

The nicest village school I've seen.

Dave, head teacher (Ugandan) Jen and teacher-trainer (British) Jen in Dave's office

Lucky, the attack-dog...

...vs. Jen's ankles

I dig the architectural features


Weaver birds make noisy neighbors

The kitchen

And the borehole. Eight-seven meters deep!

One of the more interesting designs for latrines I've seen. Also the nicest latrines I've seen in the village.

Doorway on the front side goes to the teachers' latrines. Two doors on the back side go to boys' and girls' latrines.

The long walk...

A classroom to rival American schools.

They forgot to label the goatee.

My only critique: they seriously need to step up their game in the coffee-shop.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A last (maybe) thought on elections

I said this in an email to a friend, and decided I'd throw it up here. This is something I've thought about a fair amount, I believe first coming to mind in my visit to Cambodia a couple years ago. I'd love to have the opportunity some time to do more in-depth research on it.

In general, elections went fine - I'm actually disappointed by how smoothly they went. Not because of the lack of violence or unrest, because of the lack of change. This country NEEDS it and Museveni is a hypocrite and too entrenched to see what's been born under him. It's the same old story of a traumatized populace though: a generation needs to die before anything's going to change. Just like in Cambodia and so many other countries torn apart by war in the past 50 years: there are too many people who lived through the terror and who are thus easily enough appeased by "peace and stability" campaign platforms. Change, to the generation(s) that lived through the bad, is synonymous with "danger". Amazing how often you hear - from elders speaking to youngers - "you don't know how bad it was". This generation needs to pass on - or at least dwindle in numbers enough to no longer be a majority - before anything will change.