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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Rural Visit

Today we had the opportunity to visit the village of Kasawo, located near Kikandwa where Drake is officially breaking ground for a medical clinic on June 9th.  Our journey began a little bit later than expected due to some minor transportation issues were easily repaired.  Nevertheless, we began the hour and a half long bus ride to our destination.  As we got further and further from the city of Kampala, the scenery began to change - there were no longer vendors lined up closely alongside the road or large billboards advertising various products.  We began to enter a more picturesque region of Africa, one that has not been impacted as greatly by construction and modernization and instead covered with vegetation and crops.

When we arrived in Kasawo we were greeted by prominent individuals from the village along with groups of smiling children.  We split up into three smaller groups and were given a tour of a 20 acre farm that predominantly grows coffee, matoke (bananas), some maize, and cabbage.  This farm was representative of what a typical rural farm might look like.  These types of farms are prominent in these rural areas and are used as a primary source of income for individuals living there.  Much of the profit these farmers receive is dependent on international demand for their crops, since many of them (especially coffee) are exported to various regions of the world.  It was interesting to compare farming techniques in the United States with those we saw in Uganda, since they lack much of the technology that we often utilize.

After the tours, we were able to taste some of the bananas that were grown on the farm and play with some of the children who live in the village.  We then walked to the house of another prominent man in the village, where we were fed generous amounts of food.  We were able to try various foods that we had never encountered in the United States, such as jackfruit, cacao fruit, and roasted cacao seeds.  After lunch we were able to ask questions about farming in Uganda as well as rural life in general, as well as answer some of the questions that the villagers had about life in the United States.  Students and professors were able to donate items such as clothing, household items, shoes, and toys to the villagers in order to thank them for the tremendous generosity they extended towards us as well as the partnership they have had with Drake University over the past seven years.  (Unfortunately, we had a minor mishap and the bus ended up running over and popping one of the beach balls that had been given to the children to play with as we were leaving.  Thankfully, we will be returning to the village on the June 9th and will be able to make up for this loss!)  It was truly an honor to be able to meet these men and women and I think that many of us gained a great respect for their work and culture through this visit

To those on the trip - the general environment of Kasawo was very different than what we have been experiencing while in Kampala; what shocked/surprised you most about the rural village and why?  Additionally, some of the villagers asked us if we thought we would ever feel comfortable living in a region like Kasawo without the types of technology and services we are so accustomed to - do you think you would be able to do this?


  1. Before going to the rural village I think that many of us made the assumption that they would have close to no technology. However, Mr. Guwedeko emphasized that they do have mobile phones, a tv and even Internet access in their village. The major difference between our lifestyles and the lifestyles of the rural villagers is the role that technology plays. For us, it is something we use everyday for school, entertainment and much more without thinking twice. In the rural village technology is a luxury that provides a means of staying connected and conducting their business. Despite the fact that I want to say I would be able to live without a close connection with technology, I can't say I can. We did just get back from a three day trip to Murchison Falls where myself as we'll as many others didn't access technology. It can be quite refreshing to live without close ties to technology but I don't think I could go extended periods of time without it. This is only one aspect of living in a rural village that I would find difficult.

  2. This day was one of favorite days of the trip (which is hard to choose because so many days have been so memorable!) I think one of my favorite parts was the peace and quiet. The feeling of the sun's warmth, the sound of the birds, the fresh air was quite rejuvenating and life-giving to me. This was a stark contrast to the busyness, the traffic jams, the noise, and stirring of Kampala. I am really glad that we get to experience both. As soon as the farmers posed that question, my adventurous spirit automatically said, "Well, I'd love to try!" I'm not over ally attached to technology. I think it would be a grand experience to live off the land, really be present where you are at, and share life with community members in a village. Would it be an adjustment? Sure. But would I love to pursue that at some point in my life? Absolutely.

  3. Although the farmers in the village do not have the technology and machinery we have to farm with in the United States, they use best practices for farming. Instead of mono cropping like so many commercial farms do in the U.S. They intercrop and rotate crops in order to keep their soil fresh and to grow the best crops possible. For example, coffee plants like shade, so putting banana trees/crops throughout the field of coffee allows the coffee to be in a shaded area. It amazes me that they do all their farming basically by hand and that there really isn't hired help, it is usually all done by the family.
    The hospitality of the village was amazing. They met us at the bus and walked us back to it at the end of the visit. The cooks worked hard on one of the best African meals we had. They enjoyed talking about our culture with us as well as theirs. They are truly good people and I really enjoyed getting to see all the familiar faces the next week amongst their broader community.