Sunday, 26 September 2010

Mucking Out...!

Kampala is filthy! Almost everywhere you look there are piles of rubbish. The drains are clogged with plastic bags. You often get wafts of sewage whilst out and about. In the slum areas, which are located at the bottom of the hills near the swamps, this is magnified, as everyone's waste (including personal!) gets washed down by gravity towards them. There is no council-sponsored waste collection so it is down to the communities to keep their environment clean. From what we can see this does not always happen. In neighbouring Rwanda, the government has taken more drastic steps; plastic bags are completely banned and community clean-up days are organised every month to keep the waste levels to a minimum.
On Saturday, we helped organise a similar clean-up day in our local community in a deprived area called Namuwongo. VSO gives a small budget to the volunteers clustered in any given area to spend on a local project, which will in some way help improve the lot of the local community. It was a case of opportunity meeting need, as the Touch Namuwongo project in which Alison is involved has been looking to start a clean-up programme and we had some funds to buy the equipment needed. So we joined forces and purchased wheelbarrows, shovels, wellies, gloves, etc. The community were 'mobilised' to attend on Saturday morning and over 400 people turned up and duly collected their gloves and tools and set to work collecting the rubbish and digging out the ditches. Amy, Zoe and Bella joined in for the 'light cleaning' and seeing little white kids helping out swelled the numbers of locals further. Those with a keen eye may spot the girls wearing their Monkey Lou superhero t-shirts (donated by Laura Bramswell-thank you!) in a bid to save the planet
After a couple of hours of mucking out before the midday heat, everyone was rewarded with a specially commissioned t-shirt and a chapatti each. We then enjoyed some Ugandan dancing and speeches by the community leaders, before distributing some mosquito nets and delivering some health education and income generation training. It was also another good opportunity to sensitise the community to the sexual and reproductive health service that Alison has developed for them, although with numbers already at 20+ per day, there is some concern that the service may become quickly overwhelmed.
The day will hopefully now kickstart regular cleaning sessions around the different parts of Kampala and having cleared up some of the mess, people may think twice about dumping their rubbish in public.

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