|Posted on April 4, 2014 at 5:40 AM|
In Uganda any small living area is called a village. In America we would call them towns. There is ‘village’ (like Kajjansi), located just outside of a major city (like Kampala). And then there is ‘deep in the village’, referring to a village that is so far from any civilization and surrounded only by Uganda countryside. Recently I had the opportunity to travel ‘deep in the village’ with a good pastor friend of mine to the small village of Kisozi. (More about his church and ministries in an upcoming blog post.) Kisozi is located southwest of Uganda’s Equator. There is a singular route in and out of Kisozi, and the drive feels like traveling to the ends of the Earth. Most of the road would be described as little more than a ‘pasture path’ if found in America…they are dusty, narrow, wash board and pot-hole riddled, and slow-traveling.
Kisozi is fairly typical of living ‘deep in the village, and my impressions were reminiscent of America’s Prairie Days era. There is no electricity. One resident of Kisozi had a small solar panel to generate income by charging cell phones. (Yeah, ironic that although faint, a cell phone signal does indeed travel to this remote location!) Otherwise, life revolves around daylight. People rise early in the morning just prior to the sun to fetch water, dig in their gardens, and start the routine of the day. People often sleep early, as the pitch black of darkness impedes nighttime activities.
There is no clean or running water. Residents of Kisozi must travel upwards to 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) for water. Their choices are either river water or pond water. In one direction, the river water is muddy, and people must be cautious of the occasional crocodile. In the opposite direction, the pond water is greenish in color from algae and shared with cattle. Water is typically collected 1-2 times daily depending on the size of the family and their water usage for the day. For those with the physical strength and stamina, jerry cans of 10-15 liters are carried upon the head. Otherwise, they are transported astride an old bicycle for hire. This water is used for cooking, cleaning, washing, and bathing.
Kisozi is located within cattle country. Uganda’s President has a large ranch which employs local villagers to be cattle keepers for about 30,000 UGX monthly ($12 USD), which places a family below the most extreme poverty level. It is sun-up to sun-down, 7-days a week work keeping the cattle herded in the countryside of trees, overgrown shrubs, and thick bush. Kisozi residents rely heavily on the cattle for food. Milk becomes the main staple of their diet… breakfast, lunch, and supper. Some staple crops (like cassava, maize, beans and matooke) are raised on small individual plots of land. During the bi-annual harvest, the crops are pooled with neighbors to generate a small price at local markets. Any remaining crops are a supplement to their dairy-dominated diet.
Homes in Kisozi are made with homemade bricks of mud and straw in either a circular hut or small rectangle house. Both styles would have some walled partitions to form 2-3 rooms. A separate hut is constructed for the outdoor fire pit for cooking. With a family’s income being small and sporadic, basic household items like sugar, bread, salt, or soap become luxuries. They become cherished gifts saved for the most special of occasions. Furniture is sparse within homes. Outside elements are utilized for hygiene and household upkeep, like a special twig from a certain tree used as a toothbrush. Manure is used as wall stucco. Grasses are woven together to make mats for visitors to sit upon or beds to sleep at night.
One could find a few boda-boda motorcycles and pedal bikes within villages like Kisozi. Vehicles are so rare that the entire community will cease all activity to see its passage. A taxi bound for Kampala makes departures/arrivals twice daily. Therefore, most travel is done by foot. It is not uncommon for people to travel kilometers upon kilometers to attend church or school, visit with a friend, or work their ground. Many of these people can be bare-footed.
Days in the village are often monotonous. For men, they are usually with cattle from dawn to dusk. For women and children, they wake early to fetch water and/or work in their garden either hoeing by hand, planting seeds, or harvesting. Babies are strapped on the backs of their mothers. By mid-morning when the sun becomes too intense for such laborious work, household chores are completed like mopping, washing, or cooking. These chores usually take hours to complete. By evening, more household chores must be completed and the household must settle down to prepare for the upcoming day.
While I personally found many elements of village life astonishing, I had to remember that most adults and children know life no differently. Many have never traveled to Kampala and have very limited contact with media and technology. Village life seems to rear extreme… incredibly laborious back-breaking work (gardening, cattle rearing, fetching water, etc.) followed by endless hours of relative idleness. Not much work or activities appeared individualistic… everything done incorporated the entire family or a partial community unit.
It was a fascinating experience that led to other observations, which I will share in the next few blog postings.
Categories: Kisozi Healing Tabernacle Church