Is NOT what I was asking our driver today!
My sleep deprived eyes didn’t need any encouragement to stay open on our very long journey from Kampala to Soroti – I have never seen as much activity in my life!
Split up into an entourage of seven land-rovers, I spent the six hours in ours craning my neck from left to right, in front and behind, trying my hardest to take everything I was seeing in.
Sadly the wifi won’t let me upload my pictures but if you can imagine colour, and lots of it! People everywhere, traffic everywhere, horns beeping, red dust, village after village – some poorer than others, lots of children, sugar cane, orange trees…the list is endless!
The reason for our WaterAid trip to Uganda also became very clear, with the amount of young girls we saw carrying yellow jerry cans of water on their heads.
We’re heading off to our first village tomorrow morning to meet others just like the girls we saw today, a village pre-WaterAid intervention. It’s a 5:30am start though and it’s already almost 10pm here so I think I should end this blog here, tuck my mosquito net into my bed and get some much needed rest!
This trip is all about clean water and safe sanitation but I’ve already discovered something else we take for granted. Lights.
So we eventually touched down in Entebbe airport late last night and excitedly made our way to the minibus waiting for us before setting off for our hotel.
Fifteen minutes later and a few miles down the road it suddenly became apparent that we were driving without any headlights!
We quickly pulled over to a dimly-lit, closed cafe so the driver could take a better look at the problem. It was while parked there, in the dark, that I got my first taste for Uganda as I noticed the café’s security guard lurking in the shadows watching us…with a huge rifle slung over his shoulder!
About half an hour later and still no headlights, we bit the bullet (metaphorically) and drove very carefully a few yards ahead to a brightly lit garage where we could safely wait for a new fleet of vehicles to come and rescue us!
We finally arrived at the hotel about two hours later which was clean, safe and actually very nice. Something I will probably feel guilty about as we continue our journey over the next few days.
Despite the comfort of the hotel I only managed about three hours sleep. Zzzzz.
Anyway, in the bright light of the morning, we’re all very excited to continue our journey and begin it with a 6 hour drive to Soroti today. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead!
Here I am, finally at the Premier Inn Heathrow Airport on the eve of my WaterAid supporters trip, and I’m amazed to find myself perusing a pillow menu.
Yes, an actual pillow menu! Who needs The Ritz when Premier Inn are offering me an extensive choice of pillows, tea and biscuits and a turndown service?! (Well, that last bit I made up but you get the idea).
I have no doubt that this will be a world away from what I’ll be experiencing in Uganda over the next eight days, where 24 million people don’t even have access to a toilet, let alone a choice of perfectly fluffed pillows.
My case is at the end of my bed and despite already being 280 miles away from home, I’m resisting the urge to open it and check for the 100th time that I’ve got everything (including enough medical supplies to stock a small chemist). If I can just restrain myself from doing that…then I think I’m all set for Uganda!
We leave first thing in the morning and in a little over 24 hours I’ll be arriving in Kampala, preparing to see some shocking and amazing sights, and meet some inspirational people who have had their lives transformed by the work of WaterAid.
It’s beginning to feel very real and I’m equally excited and nervous. I’ve got Lenny Henry grinning at me from my bedside cabinet, promising me “a good nights sleep guaranteed!”
With just a few hours to go, I think I could probably make my way through every single pillow on the menu tonight, but on this occasion I’m not sure even Lenny will be able to keep his word – I’m too excited to sleep!
So, here goes my first ever blog. And as the ultimate technophobe, rather embarrassingly it has taken me a good 30 minutes to set it up!
Within that time, about 30 children in the world have died from a lack of clean water and safe sanitation.
Which brings me to the reason for my blog…
I’m heading to Uganda next weekend with an inspirational group of WaterAid supporters to discover the amazing, life changing work that WaterAid does to provide clean water, sanitation and hygiene education to some of the worlds poorest people. I’m so excited to see this work first-hand, an incredible opportunity that not many people will have.
I’ve been involved in many fundraising activities for WaterAid over the years through Northumbrian Water and I know all about the work they do, but I have to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what to expect out there in the rural areas of Uganda! (And that’s not including some of the exotic insects I might encounter along the way!)
We’ll be visiting communities that have no access to clean water or toilets and other communities where WaterAid has intervened, speaking to the people that live there and finding out how WaterAid has transformed their lives.
I do know one thing for certain though – this trip will be an unforgettable experience and I will be updating this blog while I’m there to share with you the fascinating stories of the people I meet, those who are there to tell their tale, thanks to WaterAid.
Watch this space for my next blog!