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?