Friday, November 15, 2013

The Uganda Project-2014 Group

Hello from the 2014 Uganda Project!

We are so excited to begin our journey in fundraising and planning the trip to Uganda next Summer. We appreciate everyone's support in the coming year!

In the mean time, we are selling glassware (mugs and pint glasses pictured below). If you care to purchase one, please email any of our team members for more information.


Thank you!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Day 22: "Welaba, Uganda"

What other way to end our amazing trip than with a visit to the Source of the Nile (Lake Victoria) and to the African Children's Choir. The African Children's Choir is a large choir made up of children around the age of 7 or 8. Since its inception, the choir has included children from Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Nigeria, and Ghana. All of them are victims of extreme poverty. The Choir was founded in 1984 by Ray Barnett. Barnett was travelling in war-torn Uganda when he gave a small boy a ride from his destroyed home to a safer village. During their journey, the child did what he knew how to do best - he sang. That simple song of dignity and hope became the catalyst for a program that has changed the lives of thousands of children. From there the African Children's Choir was born. Rallying support from the west, Barnett conducted the first tour, in 1984. The Choir’s success meant that it was able to provide for many children beyond those in the Choir. Over the next few years, six more children’s homes were established to care for vulnerable children, many of whom had been orphaned during the war. Additionally, the African Children’s Choir established a number of special Literacy Schools in Uganda where hundreds of children learned to read and write and gained confidence and skills that ensured a brighter future. We visited one of these schools and got to interact with the children who are the future of Uganda. They performed for us and we were able to eat lunch with them. It was one of the most rewarding experiences and it took 30 minutes just to say goodbye. We left on a happy note and made our way to the airport. Three absolutely phenomenal weeks well-spent. We couldn't have asked for a better experience. Honestly, the blog and pictures don't even do it justice. It is something an individual has to experience to understand.

At the source of the Nile
Such a warm welcome from the African Children's Choir
The African Children's Choir school
Welcome home, Team Uganda! It's bittersweet to be back

We want to give a HUGE thank you to everyone who played a roll in our trip to Uganda and thank you to all who stayed up-to-date on our adventures on the blog. We treated almost 500 people and gave oral hygiene instruction to over 1,500. Our donors, family, friends, and UNC faculty made this trip a success. We couldn't have done it without you all. WELABE, WELABE, WELABE.....THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

Days 20 & 21: "Hakuna Matata"

Day 20:
Game drive number two! But not until we had breakfast overlooking the Nile (no big deal). Besides even more wildlife during this drive, we almost got stampeded by an elephant, visited Lake Albert, and saw baby warthogs frolicking in a mud hole. All in all, it was definitely a successful safari. In the afternoon, we traveled 17 kilometers by boat along the Nile River to Murchison Falls, an area of the Nile where the water merges into a 18ft. wide, 40ft. long drop waterfall. The boat dropped us off at the foot of the falls and we hiked up to the top of the falls and marveled at the views through the mist. What happened that evening took us all for a loop. On our way back to Budongo Lodge in the rainforest, we were blocked by water over the bridge 2 kilometers away from the lodge. That was the quickest way there and the only other way around was a 7 hour trip...too bad we had no other choice. We didn't get to the lodge until 1am. The angels at the lodge whipped up a feast for us though! Even through the rough drive, we were in high spirits because we were ready to head to Jinja!
Lake Albert
Before our boat ride on the Nile
On our hike to the top of the falls

Day 21:
We set off towards southern Uganda and stopped by a Rhino preserve on our way to Jinja. White Rhinos are extinct and this preserve had 11 of them to try and increase the population in Africa. Our hearts raced only being a few feet from them. Might I add, baby rhinos are actually quite possibly the cutest babies on the planet. After the preserve, we headed to Jinja. Jinja is the second largest city in Uganda located on the shores of Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile. Some of Mahatma Gandhi's ashes were scattered into the source of the Nile and there is a small memorial garden at the spot. There's a large brewery, Nile Special Brewery, right next to the river. Jinja is also known for it's adventure activities such as rafting, horseback riding, boat cruises, camping, and bungee jumping. And bungee jumping is exactly what we did, well...some of us. Mikie, Stephanie, Marc, and Leilah suited up to jump 44m into the Nile. What an adrenaline rush! After some fun, we hit the hay for our last night in Uganda.
Monkeys everywhere
Mikie did it!
Bungee jumpers and a nice sunset over The Nile

Monday, August 26, 2013

Days 18 & 19: "Was that a Dingo?"

Day 18:
It was a sad morning saying our goodbyes to some wonderful people we had spent such a good time with. There may have been a few tears, but after emails were exchanged, we knew it wouldn’t be the last we heard from our new friends. Moses, our African Adventures’ driver for the rest of the trip, loaded us all up in his van and began the trek to Budongo Forest, a rain forest in Murchison Falls National Park. We’ll be spending our next few days in Murchison Falls on our safari and enjoying some free time experiencing the wild of Uganda. Once we got to Budongo, we began our adventure. Sam, our guide, led us on a three-hour trek throughout the rain forest tracking chimps. We experienced a lot while in the rainforest and finding chimps was not one of them. Apparently, the ants in Uganda don’t mess around when they bite you. We know this from being attacked first hand. While trying to find the chimps, we ran into a baboon that actually fell from the tree it was so afraid of us. Now, who would’ve thought two and a half hours into the trek, it would start pouring! We don’t mean sprinkles, folks. We mean full, blown out, torrential down pour. After running through the forest, almost stepping on snakes, to get back to the lodge, we definitely were “adventured-out” for the day. As Moses would say, “It isn’t called African Adventures for nothing.” Too bad all we saw of the chimps were knuckle prints and their dung. Mikie lifted our spirits a bit with some Nile Specials, but on a really lucky, positive note, we saw a leopard lying on the side of the road on our way out of Budongo! Moses said he’s only seen seven his whole life and he has been through the park more times than he could even count. Once we got out of the forest area of the park, we finally reached the Lion King-esque grasslands. In just a couple short hours, we saw elephants, giraffes, gazelle, water buck, buffalo, warthogs and hippos! This was all in just the ride to our lodge for the night.

Here’s just some interesting facts we learned today:
1. A giraffe’s color gets darker as they age.
2. There are 150 leopards in the park, but you don’t see them because they hunt alone and stay hidden.
3. The oldest, biggest lion in the park got caught in a poachers trap and died last year. Poaching is a huge problem in the Uganda national parks.
4. Baboons are like the squirrels of Africa…everywhere
….you’re welcome for you National Geographic learning experience.

Day 19:
SAFARI TIME!!! Today was our first game drive! Yep, that’s right. On the hunt for lions and you can bet we saw one, but sadly this poor guy got caught in a trap and lost one leg. First, we picked up our game drive guide, yet another man named Sam. Popping up the roof of the van and driving through the savannah of Uganda was definitely surreal to all of us. Words can't even describe how amazing it was. Besides a three-legged lion, we also saw more elephants, buffalo, crocodiles, giraffes and Ugandan Kob, a type of antelope found in sub-Saharan Africa. You can also find it on the coat of arms of Uganda. It was incredible seeing so many giraffes in one place. We had no idea they travel in such large groups. I think Jennifer ended up counting twenty-two all together. We also got to see the “necking” of giraffes, which is used to establish dominance in males.

After the game drive, we made our way to the "paradise" of Murchison Falls...Paraa Safari Lodge. Deep tissue massages, real showers, "infinity pools", real toilets, poolside with an ice cold Nile Special all while seeing the beauty of the Nile River behind us, you could easily say we were in heaven. It was a great way to relax from all our adventures the past couple weeks and a great time to reminisce on our favorite parts of the trip.