Yesterday was our last day with PEAS for a short while, so this morning we drove to the Habitat for Humanity office in Kampala to meet the new National Director of Habitat Uganda, Brent. This was also my first meeting with Ronald Ongopa, Habitat’s Donor Relations Manager, and Monica, who manages Habitat’s communications, both of whom will be joining us for this section of the visit. Abigail and Telen had met Ronald back in 2012, and were clearly very happy to see him again.
We then set off to Luwero, a district north of Kampala, where we can easily travel to the five families we will be visiting and interviewing throughout the next six days. We were all ready for a long 3 hour trip and we suddenly arrived after 1 hour, luckily for me as I started to feel unwell.
We checked in to our hotel only to find it only had power for around one hour per day, what?! Here I am used to having access to it 24/7! Not quite suitable for a film crew with tons of our aforementioned equipment… so we switched to a different hotel down the road – the one the team had stayed in during their last visit.
Sadly for me I was feeling worse and worse, so stayed at the hotel and slept for the rest of the day. Together with Ronald and Monica, Abigail, Telen and Cavell went to the Habitat office in Luwero, for brief introductions, before visiting the first family on our schedule: David and Harriet.
It was a strange feeling to be at the hotel on my own – not feeling too well, and without any easy way of contacting the team, or knowing when they’d be back. Unlike home I didn’t really feel like I had the freedom to go downstairs on my own, or sit outside. As I hadn’t visited Uganda before I didn’t really know what was safe, and what wasn’t. By half 7, it was pitch black outside, and in the hotel corridors. It was probably the first time in my life I’ve been exposed to that darkness, where you don’t just have an option to turn on the light and feel better. It was horrid. It made me empathise with the girls at the PEAS school – when they’ve talked about not having lights, and not wanting to leave their dorms to go outside. Reflecting on it, I suppose it was a bit more like the Uganda I had imagined, whereas Kampala threw me off a bit – as so much of it is developed – with good hotels, good food, lush greenery.
I felt so relieved when Abigail and the guys came home – and without being too cringy – I felt safe again.