Saturday, 20 June 2009

Anyone for a cup of tea?

Until last week I'd only ever seen images of tea plantations on TV or the side of a box of Tetley tea bags. I was visiting a group of HCU CORP's in Mugyera, a very remote parish in Bunyaruguru County in Bushenyi district, one of Mbarara's neighbouring districts. This is the only county that the HCU project operates in outside of Mbarara district, it has high rates of childhood malnutrition and is also quite densely populated. On the way there we drove through numerous tea plantations, ranging from small locally farmed plantations to massive ones stretching for miles, owned mostly by large tea producers. I met up with Apuuli, a HCU trainer who was doing some income generating training with the CORP's. The training was held outside the village church, beside the local primary school. The village was really remote, we drove up an incredibly steep dirt track -I thought Nasser was taking me to the end of the earth, I was convinced there couldn't possibly be a village at the end of the track - but there was!

I got a really enthusiastic welcome from the group, they were very happy to hear me speak the few limted phrases that I have now learned in Runyankole (the local regional language)! Though it's bit off putting that whenever I say anthing in Runyankole people just laugh, so I'm always left guessing as to whether I've said something inappropriate or misprounced a word!! But I'm assured by Nasser that people are just surprised to hear a 'muzungu' speaking the langauage and they really appreciate the effort. On my way to and from work I always try (! it's a difficult language) to say hello, good morning, how are you, in Runyankole to the people I meet along the way. Yesterday evening I said 'agandi' (how are you?) to a guy I recognised - he burst out laughing, actually he laughed like a girl, so much so that we were both laughing in the end - when I asked why he was laughing, he said he was just so shocked and hadn't expected me to greet him like that!

The CORP's are really keen to get involved in the flower-making project that I'm organised - I'm hoping the training will start mid-July. They have an endless supply of banana fibres and maize husks, which is a good start, it just remains to be seen if they can find the money for the training, it's 10,000 UgSh (about £3.50) for a total of 5 days. But they also have to fund their own transport and meals, which is often more difficult.
School children at the local school - they get very excited when they see a 'muzungu', even more excited when the muzungu has a camera!

Picking tea on a plantation in Bushenyi district

Tea plantation

Lake Rutoto, known as Lake Africa by locals as it is shaped like the continent of Africa - I tried to get a photo of the lake from Google Earth, but it was taking 4 hours to down load so I gave up in the end.....!

A crater lake in Bunyaruguru county

No comments: