Today I’m featuring guest blogger Alex Mwaura, Food for the Hungry’s Africa Regional Communications Coordinator. Alex writes to us about his thoughts after visiting Kapchorwa, Uganda just after the finish of the London Olympics.
By Alex Mwaura
When Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich won the marathon race in the London 2012 Olympics, many were amazed because his country is not well known for athletics. His was the first Olympic gold medal for the land-locked eastern Africa nation that has always been in the shadow of regional athletic giant, Kenya.
Kiprotich is from an even more obscure area, the picturesque region of Kapchorwa, whose rolling hills and wet climate are best suited for crop production.
I was really happy for the residents of Kapchorwa when I learned that Kiprotich is from the area. Just weeks before his Olympic feat, I had been to Kapchorwa.
A drive through that part of the country stamps Uganda’s assertion as the “pearl of Africa”. Kapchorwa is a stark contrast to the bustling metropolis of Kampala and Entebbe. Its landscape is made up of sprawling hills, waterfalls, green plantations dotted by grass-thatched huts.
Despite all its beauty, poverty is still a blot here. Most people earn about one or two US dollars a day. Largely rural, the road network is terrible and when it rains it will take you hours — and even a whole day — to travel 20kms (9 miles) by car. Phone calls and emailing are planned-for affairs.
“I walk 2 kilometers daily, to the hill there, to get a good connection so that I can send emails,” Moses Ngirio, an FH coordinator, told me while pointing into the misty distance.
I was inspired by his dedication to serving and uplifting the lives of the poor – no matter the circumstance.
Food for the Hungry began work in Kapchorwa in 2005 after identifying a wide range of challenges facing the communities “One of the critical problems was access to healthcare,” Ngirio said. “The area also experienced environmental issues. Because of massive deforestation, there was erosion that was washing away all the productive soils leading to food shortages.”
It is 7 years later and there is progress. FH has constructed is a heath center serving close to 3,000 people who previously had to walk for tens of kilometers in order to access healthcare. A maternity ward is still under construction. It has also built a primary school in an area called Piswa. The school allows 600 children to get a good education.
For Emily Kaberwa, a 40-year-old peasant farmer, FH’s Child Sponsorship program would have not come at a better time for her and her children. Her meager earnings from the sale of farm produce scarcely met the needs of all her 10 children. She was also enrolled to an apple seedling distribution project designed to ensure that parents of sponsored children continually have a steady stream of income.
Just like Kiprotich, we hope the community in Kapchorwa can win their race against poverty. With every stride that FH is making in the area, people like Kaberwa can be winners.