So far, our trip has been an unreal experience, though I believe we can all agree that Sawa World and our first Ugandan craft market was a real introduction to Kampala and Uganda.
Yesterday morning, after breakfast and a spectacular thunder and lightning storm, the group embarked for Sawa World, an NGO based in Uganda. Their motto, “solutions from within,” perfectly embodies what the organization is all about: sharing ideas from within communities and building entrepreneurship.
A quick side note about the roads in Kampala: traffic here is unbelievable. Lanes are pretty much non-existent, and it really is a “free for all” on the road (my dad would hate it). Also, the “Boda Boda” taxi service here seems like a real adventure. Men with dirt or motor-bikes taxi people and their supplies all across the city, and seem to abide by no rules. They weave through the crazy traffic and sometimes crash (as we witnessed yesterday). I wish we could try it!
Now back to Sawa World. At our arrival, we were welcomed graciously by the Sawa staff and were given a quick lesson on Luganda, one of the country’s languages. “How are you” translates to “oli otya”, “I am ok” is “jendi”, “thanks” becomes “weebale”, and “bye bye” is “weelaba”. Our hosts were helpful as we fumbled through the words.
After the lesson, we had a tour of Sawa’s new facility, and were told of Sawa’s innovative ideas, such as multilayer gardens with plants hanging in cut up water bottles. We were introduced to more ideas, thanks to two of Sawa’s “Sparks”. Sparks are people plucked from communities that have a skill or helpful idea, and are selfless enough to share it with others.
After watching a mock interview with a Spark, we were split into groups to learn the Spark’s skills – jewelry making and building an eco-friendly stove. I was in the jewelry-making group and was impressed with our Spark Jackie’s speed and creativity when making earrings.
After making our own, we switched briefly to learn about the other’s skill. Prossy showed us the previous group’s stove, made from soil and molded with bamboo sticks. This stove can last 15 years, when treated with care, and requires less fuel and results in less smoke inhalation: a win-win for all.
We left Sawa World, gushing about the selfless and sharing mentality of the staff and Sparks, and headed to the National Theatre Craft Market. I was blown away with the talent and beauty showcased there.
We had a chance to shop and barter with shopkeepers, which was slightly intimidating, but an awesome experience. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and we left the market to pick up a snack and head back to Red Chili. We ended the day with a quick swim and volleyball.
Overall, yesterday changed many of our perceptions of what development is, and introduced WVSS to more of Uganda’s culture and to everyday, selfless people who challenge themselves to make a difference in their communities.
I think we can learn a lot from Sawa World and the Sparks. We are very thankful for this experience and to Insight Global Education, and we look forward to our next whimsical adventure in East Africa.
Sam Rhodes, West Vancouver Secondary School
March 19, 2016
Photos by Ghazal Habib, Insight Program Director
Next up is Day 3-5: Safari and Chimp Tracking.