Five BC Journalists receive fellowships to cover sub-Saharan Africa development issuesGenerously funded by
from left: Andrew Hopkins, Astral Media, Fort St. John and Dawson Creek; Darcy-Anne Wintonyk, CTV British Columbia, Vancouver; Tara Carman, The Vancouver Sun; Nancy Macdonald, Maclean's, Vancouver; Molly McNulty, Terrace Standard; and Don Cayo, project leader and columnist Vancouver Sun
Experiences from the 2009/10 Seeing the World through New Eyes Fellowship RecipientsVolcanic Ash | Darcy-Anne Wintonyk - blog 4 | Darcy-Anne Wintonyk - blog 3 | Molly McNulty - April 2 | Andrew Hopkins - March 31 | Andrew Hopkins - March 29 | Molly McNulty | Don Cayo's Vancouver Sun blog | Molly McNulty's blog | Tara Carman's blog
Due to Volcanic Ash
Don Cayo, project leader and Nancy Macdonald, Maclean's have just advised that they are routed home via Beijing. Don and Nancy stayed on in Africa after the fellowship ended on April 11th, Don in Botswana and Nancy in Uganda to pursue further stories. Originally founded through Addis Abba, Rome, London and then back to Vancouver, this option became must less likely as the days have gone by. Today they advised that they will be flying tonight from Addis Abba direct to Beijing and then on to Vancouver, thanks to excellent travel insurance which has picked up the cost of the tickets.
April 8, 2009
CTV British Columbia
Tomorrow I will return to Lusaka and see the group. These two weeks have flown by. Everyone will go their separate ways on Saturday. Myself, I will travel to Livingstone to conduct more interviews for my story and try to make up for some lost time over Easter weekend. I'm expecting to be greeted with the same honesty, generosity and beautiful spirit I have been met with all over this amazing country. This has truly been a life-changing experience.
April 8, 2009
CTV British Columbia
Today my reporting took me to Gwembe district, a beautiful mountainside village around 100 kilometres from the nearest highway. Here I visited a rural hospital where around 20 per cent of children die before they are even a year old. Fifty per cent more will die by age five. Here the problems are plentiful -- they don't even have fresh water -- but the people are hopeful. They have a new 'Zambulance' -- a bicycle ambulance. It may seem like a crude form of transportation, but is much better than how pregnant women are brought to the facility now -- by ox-cart or a carved out canoe carried by the village's strongest men. More to come...
April 2, 2009
Six Days of Thoughts
I don't think words can even describe my week.
Of course I've let blogging slip and here we are on Friday, my last day in Uganda, and there's no way to cram in all that I've seen and done and the amazing people I've met.
On Tuesday morning I left the crowded streets of Kampala behind, with their crazy traffic system which I find fantastic in a horrific kind of way.
Think no crosswalks, definitely no right of way for pedestrians, no turning lights, disregard for driving on the correct side of the road, and bikes, or boda-bodas, swerving and weaving through traffic, the drivers wearing no helmets and sometimes with a small child on their lap, and stop signs are optional.
But as I made my way east the houses and pedestrians that lined the street slowly faded away and turned into endless fields of the most vibrant shade of green I've ever seen, dotted with farms, small businesses, schools and homes.
Once arriving in Jinja my contact Justine Ojambo, who started the Phoebe Education Fund for AIDS Orphans (PEFO) after his late mother Phoebe, picked me up and it was straight to business.
Justine was kind enough to put me up in his home and show me all that PEFO does, and let me tell you, it's absolutely outstanding.
I spent a few days in the field with some of the PEFO team meeting some of the grandmothers they assist. Instead of relaxing in their old age and having their children care for them, they are now caring for their grandchildren because the outbreak of AIDS has taken so many parents' lives leaving them with the responsibility to care for AIDS orphans.
But to meet these grandmothers you wouldn't know the hardships that this life has brought them. They smile, laugh, dance and sing, welcoming you with open arms and open hearts.
For me, I arrived as a muzungo - the largely used word for white person here - stranger with a camera, yet the moment I stepped into their world they sang for me and were so ready and open to share their stories.
To me that is a perfect example of the Ugandan people. They are open, giving, kind, and I think they live with their hearts.
They may not have much in terms of materialistic things, or even the essentials like food and shelter, but it is evident in the smiles on their faces and the way they say hello that they are truly happy people.
And the people who work for PEFO are some driven and strong individuals as well, working so hard to help improve the lives of the grandmothers, and the orphans they care for, by providing shelter, education, food security and more.
Looking back on all the worries that have occupied my mind I feel so foolish.
It's as if the more we have, the easier and quicker we expect things and the more selfish, inpatient and unappreciative we become, forgetting the most important thing in life:living.
We all know that one of the only things that is guaranteed in life is that we die. So my hope for myself, and for others back home in Canada, is that we learn to stop focusing on the negative and worrying about what other people think, stop consuming as much as we do, let go of the idea that living for materialistic means a better quality of life, and take a step back.
Then can we appreciate the beauty of your family and friends, the feeling of warm sunshine or your face, or a smell that brings up old and familiar memories from a time past.
For now my time is almost up in Uganda, but after only one very short week I know in my heart that I want to return.
March 31, 2009
Astral Media, Fort St. John and Dawson Creek
Just completed an uncomfortable 5 hour bus ride to Mbarara. Arrived safely despite hitting some major potholes that got us airborne a few times. Only downside was my blood tester was stolen from my backpack this morning. As I am doing my diabetes story here, I will try to track down a new one. Yesterday was very interesting as I visited an orphanage and some extremely poverty stricken farming areas around Kampala. Very eye-opening and lots of good pictures. The city streets in this country are very busy and vibrant, and it's fun just to explore. I made friends with a guy who showed me around several of the markets in Kampala, and acted as my driver on his motorbike. Time to get going again.
March 29, 2009
Astral Media, Fort St. John and Dawson Creek
I have safely arrived in Kampala, Uganda. The travel to get here was long, with little sleep, but I am starting to recover. Weather is around 30 degrees, with occasional rain. Toured the market next to our hotel today, and met a local guy who showed me around. Sampled some of the local fruits, and also tried ants and grasshoppers which are apparently in season right now. The grasshoppers tasted sort of like peanuts, while the ants had little flavour. I am meeting my first interview tonight at dinner.
March 29, 2009
Wow. After three plane rides, three countries and two nights without hope of sleeping in a bed I have finally arrived in Uganda.
It's hot, busy, loud, colourful and I love it.
The first day was a blur to say the least, two nights of shut-eye crunched up in a ball on a plane, well doesn't really qualify as sleep. With the time change and skipping ahead a day it was a bit challenging to get my bearings, but after a big and delicious meal at and indian restaurant in Kampala, a shower and a full night's sleep in an actual bed, I felt like a new woman.
Two other journalists that I'm travelling with left this morning to Gulu, while the rest of us are trying to sort out our contacts here in Kampala.
Here in Africa we are all at the mercy of our contacts, and whether or not are plans work out are completely out of our control.
For example, Darcy and Nancy were supposed to be picked up at around 8 a.m. this morning to travel to Gulu, but when no one arrived they had to track down a contact who said, "I was waiting for your call to pick you up."
Without that call they would have been waiting for a very long time.
To make things easier we all either purchased phones, or bought local SIM cards.
Tara and I decided to share a phone and bought one at a shop just a block away from our hotel. The salesman was very friendly and wanted to know everything about Canada.
Before we left he used our phone to call his, just so we could confirm our phone number.
When we received a random phone call later that night we came to the conclusion that he definitely had other ideas about acquiring our number.
"Helllooo Canada, hellooo," he said.
To which Tara replied. "Wrong number!"
Well I'm off to try and track down my contact at the Mulago Hospital here in Kampala and if that doesn't work out I'll be hitting the road heading east to Jinja.
Don Cayo's Vancouver Sun blog.
Molly McNulty's blog
Tara Carman's blog at The Vancouver Sun.