Thursday, October 10, 2013
Kampala, the largest city in Uganda is built around six hills. David and I had a better sense of how hilly the city really is while staying overnight there last weekend. Our guesthouse was perched way up on a hill just in front of The Church of Uganda cathedral and commanded a fabulous view of the city. Modern office buildings and the Gaddafi mosque dominated the scene. As Friday wore on, the Muslim call to prayer was mixed with the sounds from a brass band who were serenading a wedding party at the cathedral.
As the sun began to set we hailed a boda (motorcycle) and headed off to find an Ethiopian restaurant we were interested in trying. Travel by boda is often the fastest way to get around this congested city and is guaranteed to bring an adrenalin rush. Women typically ride side saddle but since David and I were sharing the boda I straddled the seat behind the driver and held on for dear life. Following the maxim "an inch is as good as a mile" our driver sped through traffic dodging cars, trucks, bicycles, pedestrians and most importantly other bodas. As we approached intersections or entered roundabouts I decided it was better not to look.
Before I knew it we stopped in front of the restaurant, paid our fare and then sank gratefully into our outdoor seats. The Chef's special was a superb platter of Ethiopian dishes which we thoroughly enjoyed. Then it was back on a boda for a return trip to our guesthouse where we sipped tea in a banda overlooking the city.
The next day we were able to visit a Scottish nurse, who is working with an organization ministering to street children called Dwelling Places. Although Kampala has a growing middle class and an elite of extremely rich folks, there is also a vast number of poor people who inhabit the slums of the city. Children, many of them fleeing desperate poverty or rebel activity in the north of the country make up some of the children on the streets. Others are the victims of abuse or abandonment. The Dwelling Places staff work on the streets ministering to these forgotten children. Imagine the challenges of working with children who have never slept in a bed, eaten meals at set times or attended school. The staff offer medical care, housing where appropriate, schooling and eventually resettlement with family if possible. It was very helpful for us to meet someone who has such a breadth of experience in a Childcare ministry in Uganda. Check out their website if you're interesting in knowing more about their work.
Following our visit we hopped on another boda to meet up with some New Hope staff who were travelling back to Kasana. As we sped through the busy Saturday afternoon traffic my eyes caught sight of a scripture verse printed on the back of a boda driver's vest. "Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your path straight." How apt, not only for riding on bodas but also for the work we and others are engaged in here in Uganda.