Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Floods worry everyone in eastern and northern Uganda

The onset of the rain season in April was warmly welcome, following a long drought. However this happiness became short-lived as the rains continued without any break to allow for the harvest of crops. Since then, northern Uganda has received prolonged heavy rains that have started raising worries among the people. Normally Uganda receives rainfall from March to June and from mid-August to November, but this year, it has been abnormally raining since April. Although the most hit region is eastern Uganda, where floods have claimed some lives and affected greatly both agricultural and economic activities, northern Uganda has also started experiencing adverse effects of the torrential rains.

Crops rotting in the garden, limited movement, soil erosion and lightning striking people to death are some of the problems currently suffered as a result the rains. But the long-term affects, such as famine and diseases, are yet to claim more lives if no quick intervention is made. Eastern and northern regions being flat areas, water movement is slow.

Luckily Gulu district has not yet had the kind of flooding that is being experienced in eastern Uganda. However, during one of our recent family visits in the neighbouring districts, to investigate on children referred to us for admission into the village, we came across bridges that were washed away, making many areas inaccessible. We courageously took longer routes of over 100km to travel a distance of less than 30km. Worse still, the roads we took were so muddy, so potholed and so flooded with running water that we drove through with difficulty at a snail pace, thanks to our four-wheel Land Cruiser. Even the only tarmac road from Kampala to northern Uganda has been so terribly damaged that it now takes 6 hours instead of 3 ½ hours. Depressing is the news that experts have predicted heavier rains to continue up to end of November. If this turns out to be true, then we shall be faced with the worst ever floods, something that has only been heard of happening in Asia.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The SOS soccer team goes on tour

There was excitement and anxiety on 26 August when a soccer team composed of 16 SOS Gulu children took their seats in the project vehicle for a 5-day soccer gala in SOS Children’s Village Kakiri, in which five teams participated. The over 350km journey was interesting though tiresome to most children who were traveling for the first time in their lives Soon they were at SOS Children’s Village Kakiri, where they were warmly received by the happy children, mothers and administration staff. Later the children were received in different family houses.

On the first day of the soccer gala, SOS Gulu soccer team played two matches before a capacity crowd, beating SOS Kakiri girls 4-1 and was held to a 1-1 draw by Kakiri Academy. In the games played on the second day, SOS Gulu lost to the host SOS Kakiri by 2-0 but fought tooth and nail not to lose the match with SOS Kakiri B, which ended in a 1-1 draw. The greatest surprise for the Gulu team came on the third day, when the participating teams had to tussle it out in unconventional games like tug of war, egg and spoon, sack race, oranges squabble and skipping. The SOS Gulu team was drawn against the exciting SOS Kakiri girls in the tug of war game. This brought smiles to the SOS Gulu boys hoping to have an easy ride, going by the natural supremacy boys enjoy over girls when it comes to strength. They were disproved when the girls dragged the boys passed the score line, leaving the boys in total confusion and blaming one another for lack of commitment and concentration.

On the fourth day the SOS Gulu team beat Kakiri Community team by 5-3 on penalty shoot-out. The occasion was crowned by awarding of trophies to the participating teams. SOS Gulu soccer team received a trophy for being the most upcoming soccer team in 2007. Later the participants and the entire SOS village settled for a goat roasting while dancing to bid farewell to the Gulu team.

On Friday 31 August 2007, the team set off for Gulu and the birds felt relieved after 5 days of unrest caused by the adventurous Gulu boys, who were practicing their unique bird hunting and causing disarray in their community. It was also a surprise and happiness to the Kakiri children to see the Gulu boys enjoying the roasted birds, which are not edible in their community.

The trip was very successful. The team was exposed to the environment outside Gulu in an attempt to build their confidence. The team greatly benefited from many good practices learnt while in Kakiri. They made friends and had many stories to narrate to their colleagues back home.

by Frederick Odoch