After a smooth 8 hour flight from Heathrow to Entebbe airport on Saturday, with Ebola checks on arrival, and a 1 hour bus journey on a bus called 'Faith in God Enterprises Limited' with dodgy headlights, we were greeted at our hotel in Kampala in the early hours. A much needed and appreciated sleep, hot shower and great breakfast later, we had the delight of meeting he wonderful WaterAid Uganda staff who will be accompanying us during the next week.
We spent most of today (Sunday) on a fascinating drive through the urban sprawl of Kampala, red dusty streets of Jinga and Mbale at the foot of Mount Elgon, and the rural potholed roads through lush green vegetation and agricultural land. Jinga has a huge hydro-electric power station which powers most of Uganda. We may have more toilets in the UK but the Ugandans have the edge on us in terms of energy self-sufficiency! The people are welcoming and friendly here with kids waving at us whilst drove past. We had quite a crowd watching when our drivers had to change a flat tyre on one of our jeeps!
The journey gave an interesting moving picture of life by the roadside. What I found really amazing was the vast number of marketing signs and murals for huge western companies like Coca-cola, Pepsi and soaps made by Unilever. Coca cola's catch phrase painted on walls here is 'open happiness'! I feel that people's happiness and health would be so much more improved by clean drinking water and a safe place to the toilet rather than a bottle of Coca-cola!
I have decided to take photos of all the toilets I go to in Uganda so I can do a sort of 'bog blog'! So far, these have been clean western style flushing toilets with toilet roll, taps and soap. I feel very lucky but spoilt so far as this is a lot better than most local people here experience. I know that not all the toilets will be like this.
We had a fascinating briefing this evening from the WaterAid Uganda staff on our amazing week ahead. Tomorrow sounds brilliant as we are spending the day in small groups with families in Ojolai village, in the Keriau sub-county in Amuria district. This is a community which do not yet have access to clean water and sanitation but where WaterAid and their local partners are planning on working in future. We will help the families with whatever they usually do, which could be collecting water, gardening, cooking, ploughing the land, milking cows, etc.
So, time for some sleep before my 4.45am alarm and a big day tomorrow...