Heart for Uganda

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Uganda 2016 Elections

Posted on February 12, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Everywhere you look these days is: LONDA, LONDA, LONDA. Londa (pronounced ‘loan-dah’) is the Lugandan word for VOTE. The focus of Uganda’s attention is exclusively on the upcoming Elections scheduled this upcoming week on February 18th. There will be several offices voted… 385 Members of Ugandan Parliament from each of the 111 Districts, Local Council Members of various ranks from the smaller neighborhood positions to the larger district levels, City Mayors of larger townships (like Kampala), and of course, Uganda’s President.

 

There are 29 registered political parties in Uganda, including the more popular National Resistance Movement, Forum of Democratic Change, Democratic Party, Uganda’s People Congress, Conservative Party, Justice Forum, and Independents. For the past 30 years President Yoweri Museveni and his supporting political party, NRM, has held majority power within all Executive branches of government.

 

This year there are 8 Presidential candidates campaigning for Uganda’s highest office. However, 3 candidates are considered the front-runners. President Museveni is seeking re-election for another term. Museveni’s former (or fired) Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, has decided to make his own independent run. As well as Dr. Kizza Besigye, who was the former Medical Doctor of President Museveni. This will be Besigye’s 4th time to run against Museveni’s ticket. The relationship between these 3 men dates back over 30 years during their military days when they jointly fought for control Uganda’s government. Their debates, media reports, and campaign speeches contain tangible ebbing of their personal conflicts and previous misunderstandings. It has gotten pretty nasty.

 

Campaign posters decorate every possible surface… business store-fronts, any flat surface like walls, security gates, utility poles, vehicles sides and windows. One interesting thing that I failed to notice during the last elections was the usage of symbols prominently displayed on all posters. To support to illiteracy rate of 27% in Uganda, each political party has a symbol (like a key, hoe, soccer ball, clock, chair). The actual voting ballot will then have printed the candidate’s name, political party affiliation, and this specific symbol.

 

Schools were originally schedule to report back for the beginning of the academic year on February 1st. Due to the significance of this election and the possible volatility that could ensue, schools have postponed their opening date until February 22nd. Those students over the age of 18 years and teaching staff can now more easily remain in their home district to cast their vote!

 

Let us all lift up the nation of Uganda together this month… Please specifically pray for safe, fair elections followed by acceptance and peace for the nation to move forward.

 

This Madam is a neighbor to SMK running for office.

 

The Pope is Coming! The Pope is Coming!

Posted on November 6, 2015 at 4:00 AM

At the end of this month from November 27-29, Uganda will be hosting the Catholic Pope. While I am not Catholic, I can't offer much more information than the basics.  Pope Francis will be at least the 3rd Pope to make visit to Uganda since their Independence. Specifically, Pope Francis will be in Uganda to mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's canonisation during the first visit by a pontiff to Africa of 22 Catholic martyrs -- converts to Christianity who were executed in the 19th century.

 

 

Schools will conclude their academic year a few days early for this special event. Pope Francis has publically shared his wishes for conservative transportation and freedoms to travel amongst the villages and impoverished areas of Kampala. I am sure there will be joy and mayhem abounding during those few days.  It is indeed an exciting time for Uganda!  More updates to follow…

 

2015 National Examinations in Uganda

Posted on November 1, 2015 at 1:55 AM

Every year during the months of October and November, Uganda facilitates 3 National Examinations for particular classes of students. From my experiences here in Uganda, I continue to maintain that education in Uganda is a privilege, not a right. The Uganda Education System is currently structured like a 3-tiered pyramid. After taking each of these highly revered National Examinations only the brightest are eligible to advance up the educational tier to the next level, as long as they can afford the hefty school fees associated with continued education.

 

The first or bottom tier occurs at the conclusion of Primary 7, which is the final year of Primary Education. Students sit for a 2-day examination called the Primary Leaving Examination (PLE). There is a single comprehensive examination of each Mathematics, English, Science and Social Students covering any topic studied in Primary School. These scores will determine a student’s eligibility to enroll in Secondary School. On average only about 45% of Primary 7 students will ever attend even a single lesson in Secondary School. Last year, there were 585,000 students completing the PLE. In 2015, PLE Exams are scheduled for November 2-3.

 

The next or middle tier occurs at the end of Senior 4, which is like 11th grade in America. Students in this grade will be taking 10 subjects. Those required subjects for all students are: Mathematics, English, Physics, Chemistry, History, Geography, and Biology. Then students will take 3 other Elective subjects, like Foreign Language, Fine Art, Literature, Computer, Business, Agriculture, etc. Students usually take 2-3 individual examinations in each subject, where the average score of the individual exams calculates their Final Grade. When all is completed students take between 20-24 individual examinations. With so many subjects these examinations take about 1 month to complete. These National Examination scores will determine the eligibility for students to continue in the final 2 years of Secondary studies, as well as the class combination that they are allowed to study. Last year, there were 304,200 students completing Senior 4 Exams. In 2015, Senior 4 National Examinations are scheduled for October 12- November 13.

 

The final tire occurs at the conclusion of Senior 6, which is the final year of Secondary Education. At this level, students are taking 3 specialized classes, in addition to General Paper (topics that should be understood by any student of this level) and Mathematics/Computers. The individual class combinations will determine your future prospects in University. For example, only those students studying Biology and Chemistry could ever aspire to be a doctor here in Uganda. Only those students taking Physics and Mathematics could ever aspire to be an engineer here in Uganda. Similar to the Senior 4 examinations, there are 2-3 individual examinations in each subject where the average score is considered their Final Grade. When all is completed, students take between 10-14 individual examinations. These Senior 6 Examinations also take about 1 month to complete. These examination results will determine a student’s eligibility to admission at a University and which course they could pursue at enrollment. Last year, there were 107,100 students completing the Senior 6 Exams. In 2015, Senior 6 National Examinations are scheduled for November 9- December 4.

 

With these National Examinations, there is NO room for error, sickness, or fatigue. There are no retakes, and the results are non-negotiable. There is a lot riding for Ugandan youth on the outcome of these National Examinations… so let us all wish them the very best!!

 

Entebbe Bypass Highway Thru Kawali update

Posted on October 28, 2015 at 2:35 AM

The Entebbe Express Highway project continues to progress. In Phase 1 of the project, the highway has been constructed in non-residential areas. During Phase 2 of the project, residents will be paid a ‘fair market value’ for their property and be displaced as the highway runs through villages. During Phase 3 of the project, the road will be paved and somehow toll markers will be established.

 

Currently, the project is nearing the end of Phase 1. Here is Kajjansi the highway has been constructed through the Kawali area connecting Mutungo to Kajjansi. The road is open for public usage and being used as a short-cut access road for cars, boda-boda motorcycles, people walking and even moving cattle. There is a detour road into Kajjansi where the current highway construction has stopped.

 

During Phase 2 when the highway in Kawali is connected through Kajjansi, hundreds of people will lose their homes, businesses, and even a church. While they will be compensated, this new road will cause some incredible changes to the area. SMK will actually be on the other side of the highway, thus eliminating the easy access to Kajjansi.

 

As I have shared before, Kajjansi will actually be the intersection point between this new Express Highway and the existing Entebbe Road. While it is still unclear how the roads will intersect (like either a round-about or an overpass), there is presently a lot of work happening in that area!

 

There will always be changes as development occurs, so we will adapt to a new way of doing things when the time comes. Will continue to keep you posted with more updates as they happen.

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End of the current phase of the project... This church and other residence will be

demolished to connect this road through Kajjansi.

 

 

Kawali Rock Quarry

Posted on October 26, 2015 at 4:30 AM

When the Entebbe Express Highway was constructed through Kawali (which will be the next blog post), the cliffs of Kawali became a rock quarry. These rocks are free ($$) for the taking. I have spent some time watching these workers, and it never fails to astound me!

 

Rocks are hand harvested and loaded. Men can be found with a rudimentary instrument similar to a crow bar to pry these large boulders from the cliffs. Several men then hoist these stones into the back of trucks and take them away for whatever job. Some people (mainly women or elderly men) have set up small work stations at the rock quarry. They use homemade hammer-like tools to smash stones into smaller bits which they can sell.

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Kawali Water Source

Posted on October 24, 2015 at 5:30 AM

As I previously mentioned, Kawali is the location of a fresh water spring that trickles into a small stream. It is one of the few free ($$) water sources in our area. Some houses have piped water (like mine) through the water company, so other community members can pay residence for usage of their outside water faucet. However, most residence use the Kawali water source. So early in the morning and in evening before dark dozens of people make the pilgrimage with their plastic jerrycans to fill water for their household (washing, bathing, cleaning, cooking). Incidentally, if a problem occurs with SMK’s bore hole (water pump), the children walk to this stream in Kawali for their water.

 

One of the challenges with an open community water source is people also use it for other purposes. Cows drink from this source. People collect water to wash their clothes. People wash their boda-boda motorcycles or bicycles. People even use it for bathing. So it is definitely not clean water… but it is what is available.

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Kawali spring water in middle... boda motorcycle being washed, while others are washing clothes

Kawali- Paths & Flowers

Posted on October 21, 2015 at 2:50 AM

Kawali (pronounced kah-wall-ee) is a small valley area within a short distance from SMK. It is the location of the area’s fresh spring water source (more on that in the next blog post), and until recently a natural landscape untouched by development. Several months ago, the new Entebbe Expressway cut almost directly down the middle of Kawali. (Update in upcoming blog post.)

 

Depending on the mud-level, I often take my morning walk through Kawali where the only sounds are the chirping of various birds and buzz of insects. The walk provides an interesting commune with nature, livestock (goats and cows), and occasional sprinkling of people. Kawali reminds me of a large pasture with primitive, rutted, narrow walking paths cut out due to traffic of people, animals, and boda-boda motorcycles. Unfortunately, it is also littered with garbage along the paths, as people use this unmonitored area as a dumping ground.

 

During my first couple walks through Kawali, I paid little attention to the overgrown bushes, shrubs, and grasses that blanket the area. But one day, my eyes were pleasantly opened by the hidden beauties living within this area. Flowers of various colors and sizes (although mostly very small) popped out at me, causing me to see this area in a whole new light. To a more knowledgeable eye I have learned that much of this greenery, blossoms, and fruits can be used for medicinal purposes. While I don’t possess that talent, I can appreciate its beauty, and I hope you do too!

 

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Uganda's Taxis

Posted on October 4, 2015 at 2:50 AM

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Even after 5 years, I still have NO desire to drive here in Uganda. Without any complaints, I board small Toyota Hiace taxi vans that transport millions of Ugandans daily. The taxi vans all begin their journeys at larger taxi parks within Kampala and then branch out to their intended destination within Kampala, as well as rural villages. Each taxi can legally carry 14 passengers, along with the driver and conductor. However, most taxis will manage to squeeze an extra passenger or two, children sit on the laps of adults, and bags of merchandise or livestock (like chickens) are nestled under the seats.

 

In addition to the license plate information, the majority of taxi vans have clever names decorated on the front and back windshields to identify them. I always enjoy seeing the creative names of the taxis. Here are a few that I have seen cruising down the roads of Uganda.

 

Religious— God’s Mercy; God’s Power; Jesus Cares; Allah is Power

Businesses—Zion Photography; I Love Samona; SF Investments

Luganda Phrases—Wa Kubantu; Beneze; Kakutto Pride; Swali Kabla Huswaliwa

Entertainment—John Cena WWE; Die Hard; Lost Boys; Liverpool

Others—Life is Money; Why Not?; Lucky Boys; Mr. Henry

 

 

 

 

Uganda's Bypass Road Project

Posted on July 26, 2015 at 7:20 AM

 

 

Under a quarter mile from SMK, a new by-pass road is being constructed to connect eastern part of Kampala to Entebbe’s International Airport. Anyone who has visited Uganda can empathize with the horrendous traffic along Entebbe Road. It is currently the only road that connects Kampala to Entebbe, making it one of the most heavily travelled roads daily.

 

China has loaned Uganda the funds for this project, as well as several Chinese engineers and construction supervisors. This road will charge a small toll to travel, which will be used to repay the Chinese. Several homes and businesses, as well as natural areas, will be displaced. The Ugandan government will compensate those owners to move to another location. The project will take at least another couple of years to complete, but they have made an impressive start.

 

Kajjansi is a special location on this project. It will be the bisect area, where the new by-pass road will cross over with Entebbe Road. This new development has the great potential to also develop Kajjansi even more with the additional traffic.

 

Stay tuned for more developments at this road project…

 

 

 

Uganda's Census Results

Posted on April 27, 2015 at 5:45 AM

 

After my fascination about the administration of Uganda’s Census activity this past year, here are the results:

 

 

Uganda has an area of 241,038 square kilometers (93,065 square miles), which is a little smaller than the area of America’s state of Oregon.

 

 

Uganda’s current 2014 Population= 34.9 Million people. It is a 3% increase from 2002’s population of 24.2 Million. There are 7.3 Million households registered within Uganda with an average of 4.7 people per household.

 

 

2014 Population Break down:

16.9 Million Males

17.9 Million Females

From the 2002 Census, Uganda’s male population has decreased a full 1%.

 

 

2014 Age Distributions:

Children under 5 years= 6.6 Million

Youth 6-12 years= 8.2 Million

Youth 10-24 Years= 11.2 Million

Adults 24 years and older= 8.9 Million

75% of Uganda’a total population remains youth 24 years and younger.

 

 

2014 Population Distribution:

1.5 Million living in Kampala City

6.4 Milling living in Urban Areas (2.0 Million of those people living in Wakiso District, which is the area surrounding Kampala City)

28.4 Million living in Rural Areas

 

Uganda’s 2014 Population Density of 174 people per square kilometers, which would be comparable to America’s state of New York.