Life in Mbarara

I didn’t go to Mbarara last year. I was a Project Worker in Kakamega, Kenya. But en route to this temporary home we flew in to Entebbe and so it was Ugandan rather than Kenyan soil that was my first point of contact with East Africa.It was strange – to pass so quickly through a country: banana trees jostling with stalls selling street food – scenes glimpsed quickly through the windows of a coach taking us across the border. Ten weeks later, having ended our project in Kenya, a few of us returned to spend a day in Kampala. Exhausted, we still managed to take in the city’s main mosque, the Kingdom of Buganda palatial huts and the impressive Bahai temple. We had lunch in a restaurant – matoke with rice and g-nut sauce (a change from the Kenyan staple of ugali!) and I was hooked. Next year, I thought, I need to come back to Uganda.

A year (and three weeks!) later and EPAfrica is well under way with its second year of volunteering in Mbarara. The Head Teacher’s Conference was an eye-opener – we saw the kinds of issues our partner schools were dealing with and were able to assess last year’s initiatives one year on. The Project Workers left for their respective schools after completing a week of training and their experiences of life in the villages filter in via text message: tales of traditional local church services and frog-in-longdrop situations abound…as well as the progress made with their investments!

Independently, the summer team visits schools on a daily basis to decide where we could invest in future years. This, personally, has been the most interesting aspect of the summer so far. It’s early days for EPAfrica in Uganda. There’s a lot to research and a lot to understand in terms of forming partnerships here. Current plans also include inventive approaches as to how to spread the word about EPA. So far this has included a brief stint on radio, but the sky’s the limit!


-Jessi, PM Mbarara