May 2, 2023
316 UGANDA: Inspirerende succeshistorier i håbløse omgivelser
Welcome to part 2 of a mini-series of three episodes from the Acholi Quarter in Kampala, Uganda. If you've heard the first part, you would know that it's a quarter with challenges, that's getting help from a foundation called 22STARS. They also make jewellery from recycled paper, and 22STARS helps them sell it worldwide.
You should go back and listen before this one if you haven't heard it.
DON'T CALL IT A SLUM
In my work with these episodes, every time I've read up on this quarter, it's been referred to as "a slum." Maybe it's just me. But I'm not too fond of that label. So, I looked into what can be classified as a slum area. Here's what I found:
"The housing units in slums are usually substandard and lack Basic amenities such as clean water, sanitation, ventilation, and electricity. Slum areas are characterised by high population density, with many people living in small spaces. And they typically lack access to basic services such as health care, education, and sanitation facilities.
Slums also often have poor infrastructure, including unpaved roads, limited or no access to public transport, and inadequate sewer system. Plus, often with a high level of poverty and unemployment which can lead to social problems such as crime, drug abuse, and other forms of social deprivation."
So, with that definition, the Acholi Quarter in Kampala, Uganda, can be classified as a slum, but it is so much more. It's also a vibrant and lively neighbourhood that bursts with energy and personality.
" While it may be a factually accurate description of the living conditions in the Acholi Quarter, the use of the term "slum" can also be seen as stigmatizing and degrading to the residents who live there.
So, instead of using the term "slum," it may be more appropriate to use terms such as "informal settlement" or "underserved community" to describe the Acholi Quarter while also acknowledging the challenges faced by residents and the need for greater investment in infrastructure, services, and opportunities."
From the moment I step foot in this bustling community, I'm swept up in the sights, sounds, and smells of everyday life. In this episode, I'll walk into the area with Susan Laker and Nicholas Basalirwa from 22STARS. This organization has done much in recent years to improve the living conditions in this area, such as initiatives to provide better housing, sanitation, education, and access to services.
WALKING TOUR IN THE COMMUNITY
In the latest episode, they gave me the lowdown on the microloans they've been handing out to help small local businesses, and now they're showing me some of the success stories. As we walk, the aroma of sizzling street food surrounds us. Vendors are hawking everything from grilled meat skewers to piping hot samosas. And then, there it is: "Rolex." I'll get back to that.
As we weave through the area, Susan points out some small businesses that have benefited from 22STARS' microloans. It's clear that this organization has significantly impacted the community, and first, we meet Ashan Grace, who has a small food stand.
Susan introduces her:
"She's one of our beneficiaries. She has one child in the project, and she is also benefiting from the small business loans. She was making beads before, but because of Corona, she had to go back to selling food. She's doing very well. She goes to the big down and buys vegetables and then, she splits them into a small quantity so that it can meet the level of the community. Because here, no one can afford to go to the supermarket and buy at the high price. But when she buys in bulk directly from the vehicle this one is sold at 100 shillings."
GETTING A ROLEX
Beyond its reputation as a bustling hub of activity, Acholi Quarter is a testament to the resilience and strength of its people. This is never more evident than when Susan introduced me to Abdul Doreen. Despite her disability, Abdul is up at the crack of dawn, making one of Uganda's most beloved street foods: Rolex. This delicacy features a perfectly rolled chapati filled with eggs and veggies – the kind of dish that'll make you forget all your troubles. And no, the name has nothing to do with the fancy timepiece brand. It's actually a clever combination of "rolled" and "eggs."
"She has three two kids sponsored by 22STARS and she does not let the disability put her down. She's a very strong woman. She starts very early in the morning at six o'clock and here until afternoon. After 2-3 hours of rest, she's back again to be here in the evenings."
This community was established by refugees who had fled from the conflict in northern Uganda. Despite facing insurmountable challenges, they have created a thriving and tightly-knit community. It's nothing short of remarkable.
Many locals have started their own businesses, ranging from retail shops to tailoring and hair salons. There are a lot of outdoor shops where vendors sell everything from vegetables to delicious street food.
Despite the numerous obstacles that Acholi Quarter has encountered, it remains a place of hope and inspiration. The people here are a shining example of the power of community and the incredible strength that can be harnessed in even the most trying of circumstances.
As I speak with the locals, I am struck by their warmth, sense of humor, and unwavering determination to build a better life for themselves and their families. It's truly inspiring to see firsthand how they've turned their struggles into triumphs.
DRINKING AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
As I looked around, I couldn't help but notice a group of guys having drinks in the middle of the afternoon. It got me thinking, so I asked Nicholas if alcoholism was a problem in this community.
"Unfortunately, yes. Alcoholism is a significant issue here, and it has contributed to high rates of domestic violence. You see, in this culture, women are expected to work and respect their husbands. However, most husbands drink heavily during the day with the other men. When they come home, they take out their frustrations on their wives, resulting in a lot of domestic violence."
Nicholas went on to explain that due to high unemployment and a lack of education, many people here end up turning to alcohol as a way to escape their problems. They spend their money on booze instead of providing food for their families. Most women are not even allowed to work by their husbands, but as they face mistreatment, they yearn to start working. Unfortunately, their husbands won't let them; if they try to, they face severe beatings.
Despite these challenges, things are starting to change.
"That's why the small business loan program is such a great thing. Most of the people benefiting from it are women, and it's been very positive for the community. Others are changing their mindset as they see how these women are developing at a rapid pace."
It's heartening to see that progress is being made, but there's still a lot of work to be done to address these deep-rooted issues.
WEATHER OF KAMPALA
Kampala experiences a tropical savannah climate characterized by two rainy and two dry seasons. The rainy seasons are from March to May and from October to November, while the dry seasons are from December to February and from June to August.
During the dry seasons, the temperatures range from 25°C to 30°C (77-86 F), and the humidity is relatively low. The weather is pleasant, and there is minimal rainfall, making it ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing. So, this is also the best time to visit Kampala, but that also makes it the peak tourist season and accommodation and travel costs may be higher during this time.
During the rainy seasons, Kampala experiences heavy rainfall, and flooding is not uncommon. The temperatures range from 20°C to 28°C (68-82 F).
Kampala is 21.71 mi (34.95 km) north of the equator, so the temperatures don't change much. Overall, the area has a warm and comfortable climate throughout the year, and you can enjoy the…