Stories

Julie Goodwin in Uganda: from Kampala to Mbale

ChildFund Australia ambassador Julie Goodwin is in Uganda with her husband Mick to visit their sponsored child Hamad and learn more about ChildFund’s work firsthand.

Today we are travelling to Mbale, which is a town north-east of Kampala. We are going there to participate in some ChildFund projects in the field, before returning to meet our sponsor child, Hamad.

We begin the day by heading to the head office of ChildFund Uganda to meet the team behind these projects. Simba, the head of ChildFund in Uganda, speaks to us about the issues facing the Mbale area and what ChildFund are doing to address those.Once we have visited and seen these projects, I will post details about them. Before we leave the office Mick and I admire the unusual Jackfruit tree, upon which a jackfruit is cut down for us to try. It’s really sweet and lovely.

We get into our little bus, joined by Dan from head office. The trip is long. The day has started out quite chilly, but that soon gives way to humid heat once again. As we leave Kampala we see the biggest markets I have ever witnessed; it looks as though you could just get lost in there forever.

I have noticed that in Uganda (and these are general observations only), the men are all well-dressed. They wear long trousers and button shirts, even when unloading giant bunches of Matooke bananas off trucks or bicycling a load of wooden poles. I am told that there are some men who do not sport a close-cropped or shaved head, but I have yet to see one.

The women are also beautifully dressed and groomed. Their hair is a focal point, many with intricate braiding and colourings. Once again, this applies even to the women tending the cows by the side of the road and minding the tiny hole-in-the-wall shops.

Another thing that strikes me is, that everyone seems to live their life outdoors. This road trip is not just natural scenery and dwellings, it’s a living breathing documentary. Everyone is going about their business outside – sweeping, trading, harvesting, carrying baskets of fruit on their heads. (My “pinch-me” moment of the day is a beautiful woman, carrying a baby in her arms and one perfectly round cabbage on her head. Not in a basket, just sitting there on her head.)

 

Driving through the countryside.

There are streams of children walking home from school, all dressed in uniform, almost all barefoot, mucking around with each other and laughing. There are beautiful little toddlers, picking their way through their red-earth yard hand in hand. Goats are tethered by the side of the road, a source of income for many families.

We drive through plantations of tea, sugar cane and papyrus. There are loads of banana trees and many of the yards are growing small crops of vegetables.

After about 7 hours including our stopover in Jinja, we arrive in Mbale and check into our hotel. It’s a balmy 34 degrees, and we are happy to shake off the dust for a while.

Tomorrow we are going to Nutrition Day, a project which draws people together for education, information and demonstrations in nutrition, early childhood and health. I am very much looking forward to learning about these ChildFund initiatives and meeting some of the local people. See you tomorrow!

Can’t wait to get into the field projects.

Visit Julie’s blog for daily updates on her African Adventure with ChildFund Australia – and watch her first video diary below.

MasterChef star Julie Goodwin and her husband Mick visit Uganda to meet one of their sponsored children, Hamad, and to learn more about ChildFund’s work first-hand.

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