Today we visited the Angole Farmers Development Group. They brought up a few concerns, mainly stemming from the lack of a rice polisher. Rice is expensive to process, and is therefore very profitable for farmers equipped with a polisher. Without one, the farmers have been putting rice in the maize huller, which leaves behind the bran, hulls, and germ which must then be picked out by hand. Another issue the AFDG has been faced with is the surrounding competition. There is a nearby market open every Wednesday which customers go to buy cassava, rice, maize, and sunflower oil. This has forced the AFDG to reduce their prices by almost 20 percent, further cutting into profits.
Not all is bad though, as the farmers have a solid business plan and will receive a second round of training from Pilgrim to further develop their plans and help them with some of their long term goals. They’ve also been bringing in over 20 customers on good days, and have proposed a fund for micro loans for the 70 members. In addition, AFDG has their own engineer, Paul, living in the community and is heavily involved in the project. He fixed the problem with the cam belt wearing away quickly, he was also able to prevent debris from interrupting processing by installing a magnet to catch falling change and other interferences.
Paul closed the meeting with a prayer, and ended the meeting on a positive note.
Following the site visit, we went to the grocery store to shop for dinner, and I (Will) went to a nearby soccer field I’d heard of. It turns out there was a friendly match between the Ugandan military and a 2nd division team called Soroti Garage FC. Surprisingly, the Soroti team invited me to play, which made me love this place even more. I had a blast even though I was totally fried after the first half. After the match, they invited me to practice with them on Monday and left me with one of their uniforms to bring back to the states.
Tomorrow we head to Murchison Falls National Park for the weekend.
Yoga Everyone!! In Uganda Yoga means hello, and is still the only Ugandan word we know after a week here. Because we couldn’t assess any sites on Saturday and Sunday, we had two whole days to do something fun in Africa. We sat down with Titus from Pilgrim and came up with a plan: we would drive to a game park at 7:00pm sharp on Saturday morning, stay a night at the game park at this hotel that costs $30 per night (or so we thought), and then drive back to our Ugandan home in Soroti on Sunday evening. We would then get to do one game drive on Saturday evening, and one on Sunday morning and try to see as many animals as we could. This is what really happened. We waited and waited for the car to pick us up from 7:00 am to 10:30am on Saturday morning because apparently two tires went flat. When they fix tires here, they just stick a few pieces of rubber into the hole, which we soon found out does NOT work. We finally left for the game park, which is about a four hour drive from Soroti. Because the middle seat is the worst seat, Kat and Will took turns sitting there. We finally got to the gate of the Park, and managed to pay less because we pretended we all had work permits, and proceeded to find somewhere to pump more air in our tires that had gone flat again.
When we finally got to the hotel, the receptionist informed us that a room was not $30 per night, but $300 per night. Uh O. We then decided, after driving around the hotel awkwardly for half an hour, that we would stay the less fancy hotel/campsite across the river. However, we would have to put the car on a boat to cross the river, and decided to just go on a game drive first to see animals and deal with the hotel stuff later. This turned out to be the best decision of our African lives!
We all piled in the back of the pick up truck, which is totally acceptable in Africa! We had a guide named George, who was soon to be our best friend and favorite safari guide. We drove around the fields and saw lots of Impalas, Hogs, Water Buffalos, Giraffes, Rabbits, and other random animals that have strange names. We finally stopped at a lake and got out of the car to check out all the Hippos there. Titus thought a hippo was dead, but they did look like rocks in the water that farted every thirty seconds. After spending time with the Hippos we decided to head back to the campsite we were going to stay at.
All of a sudden our guide said to take a turn off the main road. Titus drove all the way to this tree and stopped. All of a sudden, Joe’s eyes got so big and yelled IT’S A LION!!! Sure enough, there was a huge lion looking at us at a mere 5 feet away! Us four Americans just stood looking at the lion at the back of the truck, when suddenly the guide yells GET IN THE CAR. I jumped down to get in the car, but apparently I wasn’t supposed to get out of the truck and the guide shoved me in the car, followed by shoving Joe in the seat next to me. We were all so fascinated by the lion that it completely didn’t register how dangerously close we were, and the fact that it could jump out at us any second if it wanted to.
After our adrenaline was running from being so close to the lion, we headed back to the campsite. The sunset was beautiful in the background, and is one of the most beautiful images I have stored in my memory. However, we were all so happy that we saw the lion (some people search for weeks trying to find a lion but never do), that we spontaneously decided to ditch staying in the campsite and just drive 4 hours back home. This was also a good idea hygienically because we were all covered in dirt from the road; Joe’s skin was about five shades darker from the dirt and looked like he just got a fake tan. Our journey back included the best Indian food meal of our lives at some random restaurant, and an hour long search to find an air-pump to put more air in the tires that were deflated again. We finally arrived home looking like we just came out of a warzone in a beat-up truck, but were all glowing with triumph from a legendary day experienced by one lucky travel team.
Today (Sunday) we took it easy, especially after our surprise return to Soroti at 3am. Golden Ark (our hotel) was shockingly kind about our loud and unwarranted car honks at such an early hour of the morning. We all were able to get much deserved rest, and have a long and comfortable breakfast. Even though breakfast was rather relaxing, Will decided not to show (that’s probably why we were all so relaxed). Eventually we decided we cared enough about him to check up on him, however, he seemed to have disappeared. Naturally as soon as we found that he had some money and a phone on him we couldn’t help ourselves, we had to play a prank on him. Needless to say after he returned to his room he was welcomed by quite the surprise. Other than Will’s briefly increased heart rate, the day proved to be wholly relaxing, concluding with dinner at a nearby restaurant and our routine romantic comedy.