It’s been a week already since I arrived in Uganda. My journey started in Entebbe at 3:30 A.M. last Thursday when I landed at the country’s only International Airport. The sole passenger in the building, roughly the size of the train station in Ottawa, Canada, I sipped coffee at the airport cafe until sun appeared on the horizon. Somehow during the time I spent at the airport I managed buy a SIM card for my phone and even caught up on some correspondence.
Since my arrival I have experienced expected and some interesting and unexpected events — all memorable. Uganda is rich in natural beauty as well as cultural diversity. Right on day-one I saw my first lion, zebra, giraffe, rhino, and the worlds second largest snake among other exotic wildlife at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre in Entebbe. The highlight though has been the friendly and welcoming people who greet you with a smile wherever you go. Kampala is one of the friendliest big cities I have visited anywhere. Like any other metropolis it has its own set of challenges such as overcrowding, pollution, trash, etc. but overall I found Kampala to be a safe and tolerant city with a promising future.
With the discovery of more and more oil deposits in Uganda there is talk of significant economic growth in the coming years. From the conversations I have had, people see this as a positive thing with a only few concerned about the impact in the environment and local communities and traditions. Everywhere I have visited young people are working on the next “big idea”. Being seen as an entrepreneur from the west I have found myself in several discussions on business planning and investment opportunities in Uganda. Sometimes it feels hard not get swept away during this exciting time for a nation on the rise.
After rubbing shoulders with the locals in Entebbe, Kampala, and Jinja — the source of the River Nile — I am finally in Mbale my target destination in Eastern Uganda. I am here to learn and share the story of a grassroots organization from Canada and how it is making a difference in the lives of people in this region. Before I arrived here I understood that the Canadian Friends of Pearl Children (CFPC) helped improve the lives of orphans and disadvantaged children. However, since being Mbale I am beginning to see how CFPC’s original work with children has affected the community at large in many positive ways. It seems several community projects have sprung up since the organization started supporting a group of youth in this region get educated and get set on the path of self-reliance. These individuals are already beginning to give back to their community and helping the community break the cycle of poverty. There is a sense of empowerment among the individuals whose lives have been touched by this organization in direct and indirect ways.
Over the next week my goal is to dig deep and see first hand the work that’s being done here to support people and build a strong sustainable community. I will be working alongside local members and volunteers as a volunteer. You can participate by following the stories I share about my experience here and sharing your feedback on some of the initiatives I write about. You can share you feedback so that others can participate in the discussion by posting your message in the comment section of this page or send me an email.
My only complaint about Uganda, most locals look confused when I ask for dessert or offer me fresh fruit! How am I supposed to focus without my sugary treats 😉
About The Author
Urooj Qureshi is pro Adventurer and storyteller. Follow his adventures on Instagram @uroojqureshi.
Originally published at http://www.living-being.com on November 1, 2012.