MESSAGE Uganda *Video*

This is my second trip to Uganda. My first time was 5 years ago and I had a harrowing journey across Kenya to get to the Uganda border town of Tororo to work with a nonprofit group called Mifumi (still my very good friends!).

This trip to Uganda was to meet up with some new friends of mine at Drop in the Bucket, a nonprofit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to rural communities in East Africa. I came to see the building of the well that we Adventure Philanthropists donated.

It was an unforgettable opportunity to see the changes in Uganda society — some good (improved roads) and some bad (higher rates of violence). Like many developing nations, Uganda is a complex country that is struggling with a government that has been in power for 30 years and entrenched poverty.

MEET (Cool Meet Ups) – ARA Veranda. I was in the capital Kampala for a few days before I left Africa, staying at the American Recreation Association, which is basically like an old colonial club for expats. It has a swimming pool and clay tennis courts, fajitas and pots of coffee, and Wifi. I especially like that they played country music during breakfast!

I rarely stay in establishments that cater to expats on my travels (I usually can’t afford them!), but this was a nice treat after months of wet camping and bug-infested hostels. And the little taste of home was much appreciated after more than 10 months on the road…

EAT (Tasty Eats) – Chicken in Ground Nuts. A version of this dish is eaten throughout western and eastern Africa. The ground nuts (roasted Spanish peanuts) are the central ingredient. In Uganda, they spread a ground nut paste on the chicken and back it. Other versions are more stew-like.

Interested in trying a new recipe? Check this one out and tell me if you like it: Ugandan Groundnut Stew – /

SEE (Must-see Sights) – Gorillas! Really, what can I say? The famed mountain gorillas can only be found in 2 places in this world and Uganda is one of them! Check out the video and fabulous photos in my post: Mountain Gorillas Mania!

SHOP (Gotta Have) – Khangas! Khangas are a colorful garment similar to sarong, worn by women in Eastern Africa. They are an indispensible part of my travel wardrobe — serving as skirts, towels, shawls – just about anything!

The name “khanga” comes from the old Bantu (Kiswahili) verb ku-kanga, which means to wrap or to close. Printed cotton fabric , about 1.5m by 1m, khangas have a border along all four sides, surrounding a central design.

My favorite khanga.

What I really love is that on one of the longer edges is a message in Swahili, usually a riddle or proverb. Here’re some examples of some very mixed messages:

  • Majivuno hayafai — Greed is never useful
  • Japo sipati tamaa sikati — Even though I have nothing, I have not given up my desire to get what I want

Or how about:

  • Mkipendana mambo huwa sawa — Everything is all right if you love each other
  • Fimbo La Mnyonge Halina Nguvu — Might is right

You can gain great insight into someone’s personality by the khanga that they wear!

ACTIVITY (Gotta Do) – Rafting the Nile. The town of Jinga is famous in whitewater rafting circles as home to one of the best stretches of the Nile to raft, with 5 Class V rapids.

My rafting trip (during my first trip) was big adventure fun! Be sure to watch until the end of the video when I get sucked out the back into the whitewater – Whoooo!

Can’t view this video? Click on this link: Erin Rafting the Nile –

GIVE (Greatest Need) – Domestic Violence. Uganda has the highest incidence of domestic violence in the world. Here’re the scary statistics:

  • In Uganda, 68% women have suffered domestic violence.
  • Women are assaulted on average 35 times before reporting to police.
  • Women stay in violent relationships 7 – 10 years.

MIFUMI, a nonprofit organization that I’ve worked with, is an international aid and development agency working in remote communities of Uganda. MIFUMI supports the needs of and promotes protection for women and children affected by domestic violence and abuse, as well as bride price violations.

For more about Mifumi and the excellent work they are doing to fight the centuries-old tradition of Bride Price, read: Buying Women: Bride Prices or visit them at

ENJOY (Extra Fun) – Lake Bunyonyi. I really loved this area of western Uganda – I thought it was simply beautiful!

The lake is actually pretty huge at 25 kilometers long and 7 kilometers wide. Its name means “place of many little birds” and it appears on the 5,000 Ugandan shilling note under the title “Lake Bunyonyi and Terraces.” It is definitely a spot to be proud of!

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 15th, 2011 and is filed under Africa, Messages by Country.

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