When our Oasis Overland tour leader offered us a slum tour through Bwaise slums in Uganda, I wasn’t sure how comfortable I felt about it. Not only daftar situs slot online would we be wandering through the resident’s private villages and homes, but no doubt we would also be snapping away with our cameras at every sign of poverty. It seemed so wrong.
I very nearly decided not to go along.
However, I am so glad that I did decide to visit the slums in Uganda, as it has led to a small change in my life.
Bwaise Slum Tours in Kampala, Uganda
Catching a matatatu (local taxi) through the traffic-choked streets of Kampala, the capital of Uganda, is an experience in itself. Add 12 muzungu’s (white tourists) like myself, and you become the main attraction. As we crawled through the streets, we were reminded that the residents of the slum we were visiting, Bwaise slum, live well below the poverty line, but we had nothing to fear about being robbed as a guard would guide us.
Arriving in Bwaise Slum, we met our AFFCAD (Action for Fundamental Change for Development) tour guides, who explained where we would be going and who we would meet over the next 2 hours.
AFFCAD is a non-profit community-based organization with offices in Bwaise slums in Kampala. It was formed in 2009 by four youths to mitigate the impacts of HIV/AID and Poverty in the slum areas of Kampala, Uganda. They now run tours and offer various volunteering options, from 1 day to several months.
As we learned more about the AFFCAD organization, children’s faces began to peer through the wooden windows at us. Their faces broke into shy grins every time they caught our eyes, or we offered a wave.
Walking out onto the streets of Bwaise slum, I quickly felt a tug at my hand as it dangled at my side. Glancing down, I spotted a grubby little hand clasped around my fingers. The ear-to-ear grin split her face as she looked at me, and my heart melted.
Within seconds everyone had at least one kid grasping both hands as we began our slum tour. And in most cases, two or three kids would be hanging off our fingers.
Visiting the local school where 40 kids crammed into a shoebox of a room with dirt floors was eye-opening. Brightly painted pictures plastered the wooden walls, and wooden desks lined the room. Another of the classes was wholly flooded with a foot of water sloshing between the walls due to the rainy season.
When the floods arrive, several weeks of the year, there is nothing to be done but send the kids back home. It sucks as all they want to do is learn and play.
We were continuing the slum tour. We were taken through a maze of winding streets of dilapidated homes. Each houses several generations of family members with no electricity or running water.
The water they collect often bubbles up from natural springs littered with rubbish.
A queue of tiny kids carries plastic containers waiting to be filled for their once daily (if lucky) meal of plain rice. Education about boiling the water before consuming it is the only way to keep them from getting sick.
Long canals choked with rubbish criss-cross through the slums. The locals stand waist-deep in them, pulling trash out of the water to see if anything has washed down from neighboring communities that is worth keeping or selling.
Nearly everything can be reused, and each item is meticulously poured over to calculate its value.
Wandering more profound into the slum, we are told to switch off our cameras.
The locals are primarily prostitutes in the slum earning little more than $1 an hour, yet this is more than most. It is a lucrative business for someone with no other options. And while AFFCAD is trying to stamp it out, they know they are fighting a losing battle.
Instead, they would educate the sex workers about HIV/AIDS and how to protect themselves over the long term.
As we wrap up the tour, we are invited into a local restaurant to devour a traditional meal of Ugali (a type of rice and maize mixture) with a stew of tender beef. All cost less than $2.
I am waving goodbye to the kids. I make the straightforward decision that as soon as I return to New Zealand, I will be organizing the sponsorship of one of the children. For just $40 a month, I can make a massive impact in their lives with three daily meals, school supplies, and medicine to help them out.
What is ridiculous and weighs on me heavily is that I can quite easily spend that on one night out drinking. It makes me sick just thinking about it.
Reader Questions: Do you sponsor a child or donate to pasarbola a worthy charity? Do you recommend any for me to research?
To learn more about what AFFCAD is doing in the Bwaise slum or how you might help them, please check out their website.