Picture
During our time in Uganda, my father and I built a brick oven. It started out as a dilapidated foundation of a barbeque.
Then . . .



 
Picture
_High up in the mountains, surrounded by red coffee beans and purple bougainvillea, green-topped banana stalks stretch for miles.  The ruddy soil is rich and will grow anything that is stuck into it, as long as the plant doesn't get washed down to the valley in the rainy season.  The sun is burning down, the sky is relentlessly brilliant and there is no sign of water anywhere. 
John, Allegra, Barbara and I, along with Teacher Grace who does the translating, have walked up the mountain to see a little boy named Isaac and his sister, Evelyn.  By the time Isaac was 8 and his sister was 10, both parents were dead. The kids are now 14 and 16, and have taken care of each other over the years.  Isaac greets us, beaming, very happy that we have come. He runs off through the brush to get his sister who is at church, a few hills away.
Apparently we are quite a spectacle: . . .



 
Picture
Here is our guest house midway up a rather steep hill
_Every morning I wake up between 6:30 and 7:00am.  This is done without the aid of technology due to nature's alarm clock: the faithful rooster.  Many local villagers keep chickens and have a rooster.  So every morning, before the sun rises, we hear the loud and faithful "cock-a-doodle-doo" of the many roosters surrounding us. Carolyn has usually been awake for hours, listening to the chanting or the drum beats through the night. I lie in bed and soon enough the sun pops up. Yes, it literally pops up.  Being on the equator, the sunrises and sunsets happen quickly.  Within a half hour of first light the sun shines brightly. 
    Basically, all the guests at the guest house are up by 7:15am.  During our stay, there were 7 guests (our family of 4, Sabia, Anna and Tom) along with Barbara, the owner/manager/head Big Boss Lady.  The first one up . . .



 
Picture
Dawn from the front porch of the Guesthouse
_We are having an interesting time in Uganda - this is quite a trip!  We are living up in the mountains near the Kenya border.  No electricity, no running water, no toilet, no fridge, no car, no stores etc.  Shower from a bag of water hanging on a stick that Birch hooked up.  Birch and John, along with a local teen named Albert, carry the water over a kilometre straight up hill from a river below (every drop we drink, cook or wash with).  Propane stove and a fire for cooking.  However, solar-powered batteries for the laptop and a cell-phone tower nearby help tremendously.  Amazing what we can get used to living without...  
We are in a house of volunteers: Barbara (65 year old Canadian who runs everything), plus university students doing a GAP year and a Peace Corps worker - and Birch is hanging out with them. They are having . . .


 
Picture
_Today I did my situps and pushups, brushed my teeth, and set out for the school. On the way to the school Barbara pointed out a kid who had a sponsor in Canada that sent money every month for school. But he wasn't going to school, because he was at home. That really made me angry. Some people are sending money from the other side of the globe to help this kid get an education. And what does he do? He doesn't even make the effort to go to school, and he probably just pockets the money. It just teaches bad work ethic, and it really doesn't help the kid in the end. You'd think that they would be happy to be helped, but they make it really hard. Anyway, when we got to the school, we had an assembly. We were introduced, and the school kids sang some Ugandan songs for us, so we returned with Land of the Silver Birch. They had all this amazing rhythm, percussion, and harmonies, and we were pretty weak, to tell you the truth. Afterwards, I was given a job as . . .


 
Picture
_We will be spending the next five weeks helping out at a vocational school in a small village in the eastern part of Uganda near the Kenyan border.   This school, started in 2003, is run by a Canadian woman Barbara Wybar who is now living there full time.  Before arriving I had a vague idea about the work Barbara is doing.  The school that she runs is called Bududa Vocational Acadamy (BVA).  BVA was established to provide proper training in specific trades and make this training more accessible to the local population.
        Most of the students don't have any high school.  They also have no other trade training.  Lots of the girls have babies already, having had them starting at 15 years old.  We don't hear about which boys have kids, as often they don't claim fatherhood.  In a nutshell, if the students didn't have this school, they would probably endup on the streets with no job and no way to support themselves or their young families. That's why this school makes an important contribution.  It lets people help themselves.
Currently the school trains . . .


 
Picture
_We have landed in Uganda, Birch and Allegra and my first time on African soil, along with and Carolyn's third time!  We get through customs which takes longer than expected and when we finally pick up our bags and leave the passenger area we are met by Sabia, a wonderful American / Ethiopian woman that is working as a Peace Corps volunteer with Barbara in Bududa.  Sabia gives us all a warm welcome and immediately starts answering all our questions:  How long have you been waiting for us?  Where are we staying tonight?  How far is Bududa?  How long have you been working with Barbara at the school in Bududa? 
     We walk along to the parking lot where a Toyota van is waiting for us to take us to our overnight accommodation just 5km from the airport.  The driver is pleasant, we all load in along with all our backpacks and . . .