Monday, October 4, 2010

The Namuwongo clean-up

I know it doesn't look like it, but this is the Management Adviser to the Directorate of Education Standards.  He is looking particularly uncomfortable, wouldn't you say?

A couple of weekends ago, the Kampala Cluster of VSO volunteers decided to work with a local community organisation called Touch Namuwongo (TN) on cleaning up the local slum just down the road from the VSO office.  Each VSO cluster undertakes some work within the local community which is additional to volunteers’ formal employment. The aim of the day was to clean out the open drains (ugh!) and remove many years’ accumulation of rubbish.
The infamous drains now looking much better

    Our VSO funds paid for tools such as pangas (machetes), hoes, wheelbarrows and other tools, and some rubber gloves and wellies for the locals.  Namuwongo is built on a malarial swamp so we also bought mosquito nets and sold them to residents at very low prices.    Paying for something means you value it and use it. The medical volunteers  among us provided advice on HIV, contraception and childcare.  As Stuart and I have no such useful skills, or indeed any practical skills whatsoever, we donned our Marigolds and spent a good bit of a hot and smelly morning bent double heaving foul heaps of unidentifiable objects into sacks.
Local volunteers and tools
Some residents found our gloves particularly fascinating

Volunteers joined in with local people and a whole range of community groups, including children from the locaI schools who arrived proudly in their smart school uniforms and then proceeded to climb into ditches. 

The school bus

One school arrived with their pupils loaded onto  the back of an open truck.  I'm pretty sure they didn't do any risk assessments either!

An interested onlooker
No avoiding childcare duties
I won’t describe the garbage we removed, just use your imagination!  Four hundred people turned out and the day was such a success that the local group are going to repeat it elsewhere in the neighbourhood, using the tools we purchased.  Here are some of the residents.  I hope the photos give you something of the flavour of the day (mmm… perhaps not…). 

Protestant ethic - alive and well and living in a Ugandan school

Sometimes it's just too overwhelming...


  1. Good to see Ugandans taking some responsibility for their environment. We have often found that this is not very high on their priorities, which may be understandable in many cases given the daily struggle to make a living. We have tried hard to persuade them to take a pride in their school surroundings as a stimulus to better learning but without much success I have to say. But again resources are so scarce that once again priorities have to be weighed up.
    PS We have just had the deputy from Kyebambe to stay with us. Very successful I think. Check out the UST blog