…and if you know anything about the people of Mawanga, they know how to party.
For those of you who don’t know what a party in Mawanga looks like, here’s what you would have seen if you were there. There were 2000 community members, ROWAN members, spiritual leaders, government officials and an international team of 17. The ROWAN women and children danced and put on skits. ROWAN honoured the 32 students who have worked hard and graduated the program. These students were awarded certificates. But the celebrations didn’t stop there.
Tom Dluzak and Troy Nibbelink, who were instrumental in the design of the Hall of Hope were able to make the trip to ROWAN and see the completed project. They were excited to see the work that had been done. With over 8,000 square feet of space, the Hall of Hope will be a pillar in the community and ROWAN will be able to host all their programs and events within these walls!
Help is still needed
The Hall of Hope still needs some work to be fully completed and ready to serve the people the way it was designed. If you are willing to help fill the need of a solar panel and a water pump, please click here and donate.
My husband stays quite connected to his friends, family and people from Uganda. He has lived in Canada now for almost 11 years, but Facebook, Whats app, Instagram and other social media has given him the chance to stay way more connected that he was able to in the past. Not only are there more opportunities, but it is much cheaper for us not having to purchase phone cards to use to call his friends and family. Youtube has also kept him connected with the music and news from Uganda, but the one thing that we have to work at to keep his culture in our home and in his life is the food.
The food in Uganda is something that brings many memories and great moments back for both of us. Whether it was the popcorn Mama used to make with our morning tea in Mawanga, the rolex that Julius would make me at Namuwongo market, the many Fanta oranges that I enjoyed under the shade of a tree or down at the market while teaching my husband to play the guitar, or the roasted maize I would snack on while walking home from town. Food is something that I associate with many wonderful people and amazing memories from my time in Uganda.
Over the 12 years of being married to Busiisi and the many months that I have spent in Uganda, I was able to pick up on how to make a few of the dishes that are staples in Uganda. With my husband’s help, we can make a mean chapatti, thanks to the lessons that Jane gave me and the recipe that Hakim wrote in my journal. My husband has taught me how to make “soup” using beef, chicken, pork or beans for him to enjoy with his rice. I have yet to learn how to mingle posho, but Busiisi does a great job of making that.
One of Busiisi’s favourite snacks that he used to get down at Namuwongo market was Mandazi. It’s similar to a plain donut here in Canada, but a little heavier. I find that when he is busy with life and is missing home, a batch or two of mandazi will cheer him up. My boys enjoy baking with me, so this past weekend, we surprised Busiisi with a double batch of mandazi. We probably made about 75 of them when all was cut and fried. As I sit and write this, there is not one piece left. He told me they tasted like home.
I cannot tell you my mandazi is better than Mama’s is, but for a mzungu, I think it tastes pretty good! Feel free to give it a try!
1 egg 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup milk 2 tbsp butter, softened
2 cups and a bit of white flour 2 tsp baking powder
-mix all ingredients together
-the dough should be soft, but not sticky
-roll it out to about a 1/4 inch thick
-cut into triangles or squares (or hearts if you are my boys)
-fry it in hot oil and place it on a paper towel
adapted from http://allthingskenyan.com/food-mandazi.html
Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited is a large commercial bank headquartered in Kampala, licensed by the Bank of Uganda; the national banking regulator. Stanbic Bank is a strong advocate of education in the country and produces a National Schools Championship annually. Stanbic Bank recently financed a comprehensive research on primary education in Uganda. The findings were released on April 10, 2019. (stanbicbank.co.ug)
Only 7.5% of primary school going children finish primary. Of that 7.5%, only 24% finish o-level. Of those that complete o-level, only 5.4% finish A-level. Of those that reach the tertiary level, only about 11% finish successfully.
We are doing everything we can to infuse the amazing young people of ROWAN with hope for the future. Anything you can do to help, whether it is a one time donation or sponsoring someone directly is a gift that goes directly to those in need, prioritizing education.
As someone who loves to read and write, I love words. A perfectly-turned phrase can make my heart go zing. String those phrases and sentences together and we can read or listen to something that makes us laugh, cry, fume, gasp, and absorb.
In 2019, there are A LOT of words out there. Because they are available to us 24/7/365, they can overwhelm and cause us to turn away. Or cause us to only turn to memes about dog, cats, and Marvel movies.
We can get desensitized to what we read and hear and it’s understandable. This can cause us to take in diluted meaning and truth, or put a hand up to say, “Stop”. Sometimes a break is good. And sometimes forcing ourselves to slow down and ponder the truth of what we are reading is also good. We’ve known for a long time now what AIDS is, but have you read the definition lately? I looked at the meaning of each word in the name ROWAN and it stopped me short. Please read what each of the words in the ROWAN title means. From Webster’s Dictionary:
RURAL: of or relating to the country, country people or life, or agriculture
ORPHANS: a child deprived by death of one or usually both parents
WIDOWS: a woman who has lost her spouse or partner by death and usually has not remarried, or whose spouse or partner leaves her alone
AIDS: a disease of the human immune system that is characterized cytologically especially by reduction in the numbers of CD4-bearing helper T cells to 20 percent or less of normal thereby rendering the subject highly vulnerable to life-threatening conditions (such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia) and to some (such as Kaposi’s sarcoma) that become life-threatening and that is caused by infection with HIV commonly transmitted in infected blood especially during illicit intravenous drug use and in bodily secretions during sexual intercourse
NETWORK: a usually informally interconnected group or association of persons; a fabric or structure of cords or wires that cross at regular intervals and are knotted or secured at the crossings
Whether you are part of the ROWAN family or just learning about Eastern Uganda, to pause and understand what ROWAN is, what each word in the name means, is a good thing. It helps us remember in the 21st century glut of words that we can look clearly at the people in the village, at their pain and their hope, at their knotted and secure relationships with God and each other, and know the truth. The words of ROWAN allow us to learn and help and not turn away.
If you ever have the pleasure of going to Uganda and you have a day or two with no plans, I would suggest going a little farther east, past ROWAN to Kapchorwa. While there, you will have the opportunity to meet some very friendly people, maybe purchase some local coffee beans and hike to three absolutely breathtaking falls.
I have had the pleasure of visiting Sipi Falls twice. Once with a friend of mine just for the day and the second time, with my husband for our honeymoon. Both times we were well taken care of with a guided tour to all three of the falls as well as the caves behind. Both times it poured rain on us and we used banana leaves as umbrellas. Both times were beautiful days and many chances to take some amazing photos of some stunning scenery.
My husband even braved getting as close as he could the the largest of the three falls. He went down to the rock at the bottom of the falls where he was showered with the mist and came back to the path soaking wet. He could even wring out his socks.
The hike takes about three hours to visit all three falls and the path is rocky and steep in some areas but so worth it. If you do make a trip to visit Sipi Falls and plan to stay the night, I would suggest taking some “warmer” clothes as it can really cool down there in the evenings.
My husband and I stayed at Lacam Lodge and were treated like royalty. Their bandas are located right at the top of a cliff and overlook the falls. We woke up to amazing views and wonderful food. I am sure there are other amazing resorts, lodges and camps as many people visit these falls.
I remember being in awe of how beautiful everything was around me. Everywhere I looked I could see how the hand of God was so powerful and how unbelievably wonderful his creation is. It makes it very clear to me that I worship an incredible God. I am amazed that a God, who created such a beautiful world for us to live in, also created me.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19:1 (NIV)
I really didn’t believe my friend when she told me that the best chicken in the world can be bought on the side of the highway between Kampala and Jinja. She claimed that it not only tasted the best, but it was a fun experience as well. If you have ever travelled the highway I am talking about through Mabira Forest, you know exactly what I am talking about.
All you need to do is pull your vehicle over to the side of the road and you will very quickly be surrounded by people dressed in blue aprons with numbers on them. They will be carrying a variety of items from water, fanta, soda, ngonga (roasted banana wrapped in newspaper), meat on a stick, bananas and the famous chicken on a stick.
The best part about this experience is watching the vendors. They will surround a matatu or vehicle but if they don’t make a sale in the first few minutes, they will leave. But if another vehicle pulls up, they will dash to that one hoping to be at the window of a person hoping to buy their product. The best is when a bus pulls up. I don’t think I have ever seen people drop what they are doing to chase down customers on a bus as fast as “the blue apron” people. They can barely reach the windows to sell their product, but they manage as best as they can.
Now as I said, the chicken on a stick is the best in the world. Why? you ask. Well, it’s salty, perfectly roasted and a little crispy. But eating it in the back of a matatu when you are sweaty and squished is the best part. The windows are down, as you barrel down the highway, and every single bite makes the dangerous drive on this highway way more worth it. For me, I know that if I end up in a head on collision with another vehicle because my taxi driver was passing a sugar cane truck and another matatu side by side, I will have had the best meal ever as my last.