Written by Chip Wise
The Pipeline team was met at Entebbe International Airport at 12:30 a.m. local time on Monday, November 26th after 28 hours of travel by Apollo & George with welcoming smiles, hugs, and handshakes as if we have been reunited with loved ones. For those of us who are first timers to Uganda, who came with some apprehension not knowing what we are in for, we quickly realized that we are in great care.
An hour drive from Entebbe to Kampala in the late-night hours, there was still an electric vibe in the Ugandan air. We arrived at 1:30 a.m. at the Fairway Hotel, which is a beautiful property with wonderful accommodations and is a great start to our trip. A few of us, Ashleigh, Rick and myself, were hungry from our travels and were able to get the kitchen to cook us some burgers and chips (fries) and have a few cold Nile Special beers. We finally went to bed at 3:30 a.m. local time.
Our first full day in Kampala was ahead of us. We departed the Fairway Hotel after a great breakfast buffet and went to exchange our US dollars to schillings. Each with a pocket full of cash, we left for the market to purchase soap products for a project in Moyo where local women are going to be making soap and sell to support their families. This project is graciously being supported by Nicole Ray, a long time Arizona supporter of Pipeline Worldwide. The energy and commotion in the market is difficult to describe. Seeing boda bodas (motorcycles) everywhere racing down the crowded streets, some carrying a family of four and some carrying supplies stacked all around them, is just part of the way of survival in Africa. It is clear that chaos is a part of the daily life of most Ugandans, struggling to make ends meet, but working together and supporting one another.
After leaving the bustling market we headed to the grocery store to purchase snacks and water for our upcoming bus travels for our stay along with soccer balls and sweets for the kids that we would be visiting for the week. We then headed for A Rocha, a wonderful organization that trains people to improve provisions for clean water and sanitation in the communities they live in. A Rocha has a similar mission and focus to Pipeline to improve the lives of Ugandans. We learned a lot from our host Sara who shared with us the beautiful garden on property that teaches all ages the importance and ability to grow a garden to help provide food for the table and the opportunity to earn some money with eco-friendly farming methods. The A Rocha staff prepared a wonderful African lunch for the team and we shared potential ideas on how we could assist our organizations. We have a lot to learn from the A Rocha team and we will stay connected as we continue the development of Lonyi Village in Moyo.
Our final stop of the day ended at Bless a Child Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides care and support for children going through cancer treatment. I had seen pictures and heard the stories from those who had visited in the past, but seeing for my own eyes the love and support that Brian and his team provide these kids and caregivers is beyond amazing. As we entered through the gates, we were met with kids who had smiles from ear-to-ear masking the pain and struggles that they were having to endure with their cancer treatments at such a young age. They immediately played with the soccer balls that we brought and enjoyed the suckers that Ashleigh and Rick shared with all. This place is truly special and the impact they have is beyond amazing.
Our travels for the day ended with a wonderful dinner at Fairway Hotel with the Pipeline team and joined by some of our local friends and partners. We all went around the table and reflected on our first day and shared stories of what moved us. Too many wonderful stories to share here, but looking forward to the week ahead and seeing how we can learn of opportunities to improve, support and change lives of Ugandans.