Yesterday the group did what Americans do best, inject cash into the economy by shopping for arts and crafts for friends and families back home (no more details are allowed we don't want to spoil any surprises). Following our shopping spree we were scheduled to tour the Bugandan Parliament and the Bugandan King's Palace. As the largest tribe in Uganda, the Bugandans still have a large influence in Ugandan society and thier parlment still meets regularly. Fred Luganda (one of our colleagues from MUBS who has posted previously on the blog) and I went ahead to make sure the tour was arranged. While driving we went past a series of street lights, each light pole had a small solar panel and small turbine on it. The purpose was to charge the batteries for the lights, conserving electricity. This is one example of how Uganda utilizes its limited energy resources efficiently. Here at Red Chilli each electrical outlet has a switch on the outlet so you can turn off the outlet instead of needlessly running a charger etc. similarly the water heater has a switch so it will not consume electricity all day, just when needed for hot water. The light bulbs are all high efficiency (and a little dim). While many of the Ugandan conservation efforts are out of necessity as opposed to a desire to decrease energy consumption, it does allow the visitor from the US a chance to think about the way we needlessly waste energy. When we get back to the states I hope that we all remember the little things like the switches on the outlets and ask if they were really a major problem or instead an example we should follow. Maybe we can all do a little more to conserve energy and think twice about leaving our phone chargers plugged in all day etc. Students - what have you observed that makes you reevaluate the way we live our normal lives in the US? What lessons can be learned from the Ugandan society by the average US citizen? It does not have to be directly tied to sustainability.
We leave today for Jinja where we spend our last couple of days in Uganda. There may be a smaller number of updates, I think that last year we realized the internet was not as easily accessible there. However, that might have changed , we will see. Students have promised to record their thoughts and post after returning home late this week, so keep checking back, even after we have returned!