Nsanyuse Okulaba! That ubiquitous phrase means “you are most welcome!”, in Luganda.
Greetings from Kampala, Uganda! I landed safely and made it to the apartment I will be sharing with Devin and her son Simi until they return home end of this month. 26 hours in travel and so happy to have my feet on the ground for a while! Phew!
On the ride from Entebbe airport to Kampala, I was struck by the sheer number of locals walking the streets past midnight. Boda Bodas- the local motorcycle taxis zipping around the many cars, matatus (mini bus taxis) , and folks walking around. There are no street lights at night- not a single one. I was surprised at the darkness of the night, while refreshed by the cool tropical climate breeze coming in through the passenger window.
Waking up for my first day of work at BeadforLife’s office was a delight! I crawled out from under my mosquito net fortress, enjoyed a cup of local Ugandan black tea with a slice of toast and we headed into work. Daylight shone upon the beauty of the Kataza street… Red dust and big rocks in the middle of the road, chickens and goats buzzing around, and locals bustling to work. One of the two main roads to cross are fairly interesting and time consuming to say the least. There are no stop lights, stop signs, traffic signs, warnings of huge potholes and holes in general that appear on the roadside where locals travel. It can take 15 minutes or more just to cross the traffic-laden Main Street! This morning on my way to the market- I decided to follow behind a woman who seemed to have the gist of crossing far better than I!
The Beadforlife staff greeted me with a customary dance circle and drumming and placed me in the center to welcome me and show their appreciation for the visit! It was so much fun as we all embraced and I knew It was the just the start of beautiful relationships with a team of absolutely soul-filled women! I packed new earrings on cards and worked in the inventory department helping prepare shipments of new products launching this fall! Lunch is shared daily on the veranda of the office… Everyone comes together for a meal consisting of local staples like matoke (local plantains steamed in the leaves and mashed) , posho (cornmeal and water formed into a polenta type consistency), cassava and sweet potatoes, white rice, sautéed cabbage, all topped with G-nut sauce- a blended aromatic sauce of peanuts ground up and mixed with spices and tomatoes- very delicious! The on staff groundskeeper chopped down a ripe jackfruit from a tree and cut it open and shared! What a succulent wonder of a fruit it was! Sweet little golden pockets of ectasy hidden in long white fibers of flesh.
Today is the end of Ramadan- a national holiday in Uganda. I picked up a copy of Luganda – English phrase book and will spend some time learning to speak the local language. Smiles and pleasant greetings go a long way in any culture, and it’s one of my favorite things about international travel- communicating with locals in their native tongue!
Stay tuned for more posts- next week I will participate in my first two Bead sales- when members currently enrolled in the Beads to Business program come to the office to sell jewelry they have made! It will be a day of dancing, joy, and empowerment for these women gaining confidence and skills to leave poverty permanently! Later in the week we will interview new recruits in the Street Business School program- trainings that will take place in the local villages of the communities served. More to come!
Sending love and well wishes to you all from Kampala, Jennifer