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A report from our May 2018 trip – Carla Bellomarino

Updated: Jan 17, 2022

Hey legends! Thanks for making the great move in donating to local NGO Followings earlier this year to support the town of Busubi in rural Uganda. Here’s a small insight into what I got up to from a journal entry I made while I was in Africa…

The applause was like thunder. They clapped and cheered and stamped their feet on the red dust ground so that little clouds billowed from beneath them as they sat in the hundreds on plastic white chairs in the heat. Despite the sun pounding down on them, the women and men were dressed in their Sunday best, in brightly coloured gowns of teal and canary yellow or old suits that hung too largely on their lithe frames. Some of them had walked hours to attend the event, just as they had numerous times in the proceeding week to attend our workshops each day. A 2 hour round trip to attend a lesson on nutrition, or to discuss economic empowerment, to make sanitary pads or have the opportunity to speak about human rights for potentially the first time ever.

Their applause was not superficial praise, it was heartfelt gratitude.

Gratitude that on our last day in Busubi, at the grand opening of the new community centre, my friend of 10 years, Jasmine, and I, had chosen not to make our speech in the customary way that had preceded during our 10 days in their rural village. Instead of speaking in English and letting a local translate into their language of Lungandan, we had clumsily attempted to farewell the community in their language ourselves, tripping over the long words our new friends Derrick and Godfrey, whose English was superb, had written out phonetically for us.

The team of bazungus (foreigners) seated in the front row, who had become like family to us since we met them for the first time at Entebbe airport just over a week prior, smiled as they took photos of us on their smart phones and grinned from behind sunglasses in the searing heat. They had been through it all with us, the 6 hour bus rides, the drop toilets, the bucket showers and the countless discussions over solar installations, keyhole gardens, committee elections & workshop planning over boiled eggs, juicy pineapple and sweet bread each morning.

But as we spoke, it was the the crowds’ smiles behind them that were the ultimate encouragement. Their wide eyes unabashedly met ours and were filled with pride. To hear women from the western world attempt to speak their language – or to see them wanting to attempt it – was a gift bigger than bricks and mortar. The Ugandans were being seen and heard, their language reverberating from the large speakers around them, by travellers from the other side of the planet, who cared about how they lived their lives each day. And the women who we had spoken directly to about family planning, education, domestic violence and leadership in the community stood, cheering the loudest, some pupils triple, quadruple my age, having gone through so much more than I could imagine, who now looked to us as teachers and friends.

They cheered for their daughters who were consumed the same idealised reality we were, to live one day in a world where equality, education, safety and opportunity was not only encouraged in pubic, but enforced in private, for women everywhere.

To recount the moments from my trip with NGO Followings to Uganda would be impossibly long. So above are some pictures that can transport you there, for you, the donors who have helped me raise $6500 which has gone directly into this community.

Follow this link to donate if you can manage it and thank you for your support in changing these people’s lives, and mine too.



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