Kakande prepairing to lay his bait on the waters. Photo by Watsemba Miriam.

Born for the lake – Survival Lifestyle of children born around the shores of Lake Victoria.

Advertisements

TEAM BUILDING PROJECT WITH MKOPA UGANDA.

Indoor Reflection moment from the team building. Photo by Watsemba Miriam.

CHOOSE MELLENIALS, CHOOSE CHANGE, CHOOSE THE FUTURE.

If you are an online reader, then you have come across the word millennials.

There’s currently been lots of observations, articles, and opinions about this generation of tech-people. Millennials thrive on the internet and gadgets. They love to explore, adventure, learn, innovate, contribute to change and live in every moment of value addition experiences.

Millennials thrive on the internet and gadgets.

Millennials thrive on the internet and gadgets.

Such experiences may include; social corporate responsibility activities like the clicks of Hope, Online skills Courses, charity works, innovation projects or simply team building activities.

Millenials appreciate such value addition activities at the work place way more than the monthly pay cheque and cute desk that you (employer) require them to bench at from 9am to 5pm on a daily.

Companies that are incorporating rich, fun and yet educative experiences in their work system stand a higher chance of attracting, managing, keeping and tapping from the fresh talents and disrupting great ideas of the millennial generation.

Millenial-like work environment.

A millennial-like work environment.

Here is why I would like to give a huge digital shout out to MKOPA Uganda for creating an environment that not only manages and accommodates millennials and their unique perspectives of work, but also continuously attends to their need of adventure, fun and growth.

I had a chance to spend two weekends at The Lake Side Adventure Park with the M-KOPA group of tech generation employees during a great, disruptive, fun and very informative/educative team building experience that was conducted by innovation master company; Sudesh Int’l Consult.

During one of the sessions with MKOPA and Sudesh Int'l Consult.

During one of the sessions with MKOPA and Sudesh Int’l Consult.

Every game from huddle races, sack races, net climbing, rope courses to zip lining; all came with a load of great insight on how to identify personal blue prints even in a work place, and how to use it to discover why work matters.

Like why are you at the job you are at?, why do you wake up every single morning and go work at that desk?, why do you post what you post on social media?, why do you even want to be successful in life?. And at the end of the day?, everybody’s why pushed people to depths of wanting more out of oneself regardless of current circumstances which may include, level of education, salary level, network capacity and and natural talents.

Some of the moments from MKOPA’s team building with Sudesh Int’l Consult at Lake Side Adventure Park.

Today’s workforce values purpose, is full of millennials (tech generation) and calls for different skill sets  on the side of employers to get the best out of them. Educate yourself and don’t be left behind.

 

 

Get You A Safe Boda, Get you Professional Riding.

Have you ever met a man who steals your attention without struggle, he takes your brain and gives it a super ‘brainal’ (Intellectual orgasm) with his firm character and out pour-age of knowledge.

Safe Boda's Katongole Richard in his office of mastery.

Safe Boda’s Katongole Richard in his office of mastery. Photo by Watsemba Miriam.

There is nothing that earns respect so easily with out a sweat like a man of knowledge, understanding and example.

Allow me appreciate forty year old Mr. Katongole Richard, a well trained and submitted rider under Safe Boda Uganda.

Our ride started from Kiwatule, Najjera road to UMA show grounds in Lugogo on Thrusday, 3rd August, 2017.

The first blow was Katongole’s humble request for me to put on the passenger’s helmet. It could have been okay because I had experienced this in Rwanda last year (2016) when I traveled for mission with phaneroo ministries. But then the difference was, this was happening in Uganda. And there was no tension in the air of a clobber on your head if you take a boda ride without a helmet. No, it was personal will and discipline.

Katongole is a typical Ugandan from Mityana, currently satying in Wankulukuku Kitebi with his one wife (a woman) and six children. I think this should be evidence enough that this man, is not some sophisticated White person oriented by the civilization of the West in road safety and blah blah. No, he is just a normal disciplined Ugandan.

Anyway, so when we got to the new Kira road traffic lights, Mr.Katongole froze time when he stoped at the line as soon as the red light popped on. If you have used a boda boda in Uganda before, then you know that these motorcycles seem automatized to never really stop when the red lights turn on. All motorcyclists will be seen to continuously ride way ahead of all other road motorists and just anxiously wait at the edge to take off on the blink of  a green.

Well Mr.kantongole’s promptness to stop and patience to wait for the lights to transition from red to orange and then to green as he calmly resisted all the intimidating hooting from the taxi drivers in queue was not just a conversation stater, it left me thinking; meehhnnn hats off for this man!

The calm and collected Mr.Katongole Richard. Photo by Watsemba Miriam

The calm and collected Mr.Katongole Richard. Photo by Watsemba Miriam

My curious self could not help but ask;

Me : Why did you have to do that?

Katongole : Most boda boda riders do not understand the functionality of traffic lights. But safe boda came to remind and train us in road safety rules for bodaboda riders. That is why I would advise anybody who comes to Kampala to look out for safe bodas (The riders in orange jackets with two helmets). You will be assured of your safety because the both the rider and passenger will have  a helmet.

We have been trained by traffic authorities in Uganda and that’s why we take the traffic rules seriously. It is the reason I stopped at the traffic lights.

Me : Do you have a speed limit as you ride?

Katongole : Truthfully, we do. The passenger who is also my customer is the boss. I will be carrying someone on my motorcycle but back at home he could be responsible for even 50 or 100 people. And  when you ride him recklessly, you are betting with lives of very many people at ago.

In town, we ride at 35 or 45 km/hour. Unless you are in the outskirts and you are not carrying a passenger, then you are allowed to go up to 60km/hour. We respect all road users from pedestrians to other motorists.

Me : What have you gained from being a safe boda rider that you would never have earned, if it wasn’t for the safe boda umbrella?

Katongole : In my entire life, I never imagined that I could afford to hold a smartphone of more than UGX280,000 (Approximately 85 dollars). But now I have an L8. These phones are given to us by Safe boda and then we can pay back in installments. My life has changed in the time that I have worked with safe boda.

Even the clients that I transport now, I get them through this phone. They do not have to call me, but rather just get to me via the Safe boda app. Clients search and find us through the app.

Even if someone does not have cash on them, I can take them to their destination as long as the person has credit on his or her phone. I find my payment at the office by the day’s close.

Me : What do you gain by following the safe boda rules?

Katongole : First of all I am a Ugandan. Secondly I am a parent of six. I do love my children and they also need me, as well as many other people that I hold different relationships with. So imagine if I rode recklessly and lost my life, I would hurt so many people that I care about. So the safe boda rules are majorly for my own good.

Me : What do you have to say to other boda riders who are not under safe boda?

Katongole : I humbly request them to join Safeboda because it is not only different but also rooted.  Safeboda could in time become a dominating transport giant in Kampala.

Safe boda Katongole Richard

Kudos to safe boda for being pivotal promoters of digital for great change in Africa, in Uganda.

Kakande prepairing to lay his bait on the waters. Photo by Watsemba Miriam.

Growing Up In Uganda

Life is adventurous, comic , fulfilling, a rear hustle and full of endless lessons and dreams. Only in Uganda!

Meet Mayanja and Kakande; my newly found friends from the lake side in Gaba, Uganda.

Here is Mayanja and Kakande at the Lake Victoria waters in Gaba.

Here is Mayanja (In thick brown shirt) and Kakande (bending in creamish shirt) at the Lake Victoria waters in Gaaba. Photo by Watsemba Miriam.

 

Me : Shouting from the shore, waving hand. Hey, how do I come over there?

Kakande : Just cross over through the side bushes.

So I make my way through the side bushes, where Mayanja comes to help me cross over with all my gear; a Canon 70D and an extra 10 – 17mm lens. My crossing over adventure ended up with me getting soaked half body with my camera into the lake water where I was rescued by Mayanjja. (Amazingly the loose translation for the name ‘Mayanjja’ is ‘owner of lakes.’

Mayanjja : Webale kujja meaning thank you for coming.

Me: What are you guys doing?

Mayanjja : We are fishing. Ogenda tukubayo akafananyi? meaning will you take a                                  picture  of us?

Me :  Yes, right after you show me how to fish.

Kakande: Come and stand over here, I will show you how to.

Kakande hands a fishing rod over to me and shows me how to do it. He says, “We tie baits on the strings which are connected to sticks in a knot to make  the sticks a fishing rod.” The sticks are layed on the water where the baits float.

Here I am after successfully getting my bait to flow on water. Thanks to Mayanjja's expertise.

Here I am after successfully getting my bait to flow on water. Thanks to Mayanjja’s expertise.

When you see your bait starting to sink, you know you got a fish, so you grab your fishing rod and use it to slap the water to secure your fish and then pull it away to the shore.

Kakande prepairing to lay his bait on the waters. Photo by Watsemba Miriam.

Kakande prepairing to lay his bait on the waters. Photo by Watsemba Miriam.

Me : So do you fish everyday?

Mayanjja : Yes, everyday  from 5pm EAT after school.

Mayanjja and Kakande doing their thing. Photo by Watsemba Miriam.

Mayanjja and Kakande doing their thing. Photo by Watsemba Miriam.

Me : So where do you take all the fish that you catch.

Mayanjja : We take some of it home and mum cooks it, then we sell off the rest. We get                         enough money off to use at school. But we started saving this year and would                       like to be able to buy our own boat when we get to Secondary School.

Me : Why would you want to buy a boat?

Mayanjja : So that we can catch more fish in a secure and easier way. That means we                            will get enough money to be able to help mum take our sister to school. Our                          sister is going to become a nurse and help people who fall sick in the world.

Me : Ehh! That is so good? And how about you, what would you like to be in future.

Mayanjja and Kakande : Both laugh. “Ffe tugenda beera bagaaga nyo.” Meaning ‘for us,               we going to be very rich men.’

Me : Then I am proud that I know the world’s richest men now. How do I get these                      beautiful photos to you?

Kakande : Haaaa… ‘Mummy aliina esimu naye teliko wassup.’ meaning ‘mummy has a                          phone but it does not have whatsapp.’

So we all agreed to meet sometime, same place when I will deliver to them hard copies of  what they called ‘the best pictures of us’ in this life.

And ladies and gentlemen, there’s no other lively hope I have met than a spirit so young and vibrant like the one in these boys. Even with barely any fish caught by 6:30pm yet they had started at 5pm, no nice clothes or fishing gear to boast of, not even a visible assurance of a great education or anything that men think they need to make it in life, these boys are persuaded of their greatness in life. They don’t think they will be rich some day, they know that they know that they will be very rich.

If you ask me, well; I think these chaps already are rich. Because it comes from the mind then walks in life. It is all spiritual before it is physical. Everything thing manifest, was once just a mental intangible idea.

 

 

Haven lodge Buhoma

BUHOMA SERIES #1

Togetherness is strength; this is one of the beliefs that you will strongly buy into when you step foot in Haven Lodge Buhoma.

Located just a stone throw from the Bwindi impenetrable forest, the uniquely hand-crafted structure stands on a low hill in the outskirts of the beautifully dark forest.

The beautifully crafted Haven lodge in Buhoma.

The beautifully crafted Haven lodge in Buhoma. Photo credit : Watsemba Miriam.

The prompt gesture from the manager briefing you about the culture of things at the lodge will  take you by surprise and then slowly draw you in as you mentally chew away on the amazingly unbelievable history of a great idea and now a property and business.

The balcony area at the restaurant in Haven lodge Buhoma.

The balcony area at the restaurant in Haven lodge Buhoma. Photo credit : Watsemba Miriam

What took my heart was the calming knowledge that there are still some very great communities in Uganda that have not allowed to be beaten by the vices that come with harsh poverty, stinking health, corrupt leadership and a victimized mentality of this job-less era.

The people in Buhoma community are one with the land and the land is one with them. Through agreement, they allowed to migrate from the forest as step one to building a place, which was though seemingly cut off from the rest of the world by nature, would be so beautiful that it would bring the world to them.

The world has indeed been drawn to this pure and beautiful land. The nature that seemed to be fighting them off the world instead drew the world to Buhoma by keeping all the rear types of monkeys, birds , talent, and rich culture in one land, that can never be found elsewhere but in Buhoma.

Anyways, back to the Haven lodge, it is a people’s initiative. After they agreed to migrate from the forest to preserve it for wild life and therefore tourism, they went ahead and pulled all resources together to construct a state of the art lodge. By resources we are talking man power, money, time, ideas, skill, wood, ropes, papayrus and anything else that could contribute to the last detail of a magnificent structure for lodging of tourists.

Some of the furniture in Haven lodge Buhoma.

Some of the furniture in Haven lodge Buhoma.

Under the leadership of elect Chairman; Mr. Ngabirano Richard, the natives have managed to strongly carry on with Buhoma Community Development Association, that was formed by them with the help of one John Dubois in 1994 after the natives had migrated from the forest in 1993.

Under the association, the natives own Haven lodge and  Buhoma Rest Camp (has been in existence since 1994), whose proceeds after tourists have visited go to community development.

The lodging tents at Buhoma Rest Camp in Bwindi Impenetrable forest.

The lodging tents at Buhoma Rest Camp in Bwindi Impenetrable forest.  Photo by Watsemba Miriam.

Ngabirano informs that through the association, the natives of Buhoma village have managed to utilize tourism as a financial power to construct Buhoma High School, Buhoma Secondary School, create a Gravity water flow scheme that supplies over 90 homes with clean water, a micro finance institution that provides loans to natives at a very low interest rates and also secured scholarships for 54 students in the entire community on an annual basis.

For every tourist that spends a night at the Haven lodge, eight dollars is taken from their bill and used to subsidize the health costs of every member in Buhoma by Ugx 2000 under the association’s health insurance scheme.

Mr. Ngabirano also shares about the idea of community walks which are a part of the tourism packages that the community in Buhoma offers.   The walks entail tourists taking a three hours trip on foot around the village where the locals show case their art crafts, dance and drama, culture (hunting, farming, brewing and weaving) and also pay a visit to Buhoma’s traditional healer who offers a 30 minutes lecture about the use of local herbs for treatment in the village.

Tea grown, processed and packaged by the natives in Buhoma.

Tea grown, processed and packaged by the natives in Buhoma. Photo by Watsemba Miriam

Mountai Gorilla key holders crafted by the natives in Buhoma.

Mountai Gorilla key holders crafted by the natives in Buhoma. Photo by Watsemba Miriam

Decorative baskets crafted by the natives in Buhoma. Photo credit : Watsemba Miriam

Decorative baskets crafted by the natives in Buhoma. Photo by Watsemba Miriam

 

 

 

 

 

 

The warmth of the people as they smile and offer inviting and welcoming hellos on the road sides, forest paths and every part of the village are another bundle of wealth on its own. Buhoma village is like a fresh light pink rose, it is calm and with every petal that you peel off, you unveil deeper and fresh beauty. The only difference here is that the petals of Buhoma never get finished, one petal just weaves into another and buds an extremely brilliant rose of its own. When you marvel at Haven Lodge, you get to realize that more than the comfy seats and contribution to community infrastructural development, there’s also lots of employment for the locals here as well.

My conculsion is if you really are a traveler, a  get a way person, a writer, a photographer or a once in year picnic person and you want to do it in Uganda, in a place so natural, almost disobedient to the cruel developments of urban development yet still not as remote in behaviour and culture, well I would say that place is Buhoma village.

And when you do go through the very long ride to Bwindi impenetrable forest, rather than spend dollars in privately owned lodges whose owners are already rich and in it for the money, why not ask around for Haven lodge and Buhoma Rest Camp; sleeping here will be a guarantee of your indirect contribution to a great cause of a people so pure, trying to hold their community together to make it a better place for their children and children’s children as well as for the tourists and thus the country.

Here is to Haven Lodge Buhoma. Photo by Watsemba Miriam

Here is to Haven Lodge Buhoma. Photo by Watsemba Miriam