I’m coming to the end of what has been a great week staying at Ekisa – the kids here are great and I really like this town. Much of the time has been spent interacting with the kids at the Ekisa compound but I’ve also spent quite a bit of time exploring the town and surrounding area.
On my first full day here some of the volunteers invited me on a trip they were doing to take supplies to a primary school on the peninsula a couple of miles across Lake Victoria opposite Jinja. We started our journey by catching Bodas down to the lake front where Aaron, one of the guards at Ekisa, organised a boat to take us across the lake. The journey gave us some really good views but we got bombarded by bugs that live on the lake – piece of advice if you take a boat across the lake keep your mouth closed and wear sunglasses and a hat.
After arriving on the peninsula we caught Bodas up to the school we were due to visit, at the top of a hill overlooking the lake. Most people got there without any problems although our Boda had problems getting up the hill and I ended up ripping my trousers in the process so we arrived a long time after the others. We were greeted by the head teacher who invited us to sign the visitors book before giving us a tour of the school. The school was very basic and reminded me of the one I visited in Kenya a few years ago – holes in the wall and lack of facilities. However the children were really happy to see us and after giving out the supplies to the children we were treated to a song and dance presentation in the school hall.
Once the presentation finished we walked with some of the kids down to meet our boat back to Jinja – it was a steep hill and some of the group had problems walking but the kids just ran straight down with no problems. Eventually we all got to the bottom and walked hand in hand with some of the kids to the town where the boat was due to meet us. When we arrived at the town we were greeted by a large group of kids who interacted and played with us for ages until our boat arrived to take us back to Jinja.
Most of my other trips out from Ekisa were to town but the one thing I wanted to do this time was visit the source of the River Nile as I was unable to get there when I was in town in 2009. We caught a boda there, and I’m glad we visited, although it was mainly a tourist trap with lots of souvenirs so we did what we needed to do before catching our boda to a nearby restaurant called Mezzanine. I highly recommend visiting Mezzanine if you’re in Jinja to see the great views of the River Nile and enjoy great food (I chose the Mr Potato Head Pizza with cream, roast potatoes, onion, mozzarella and rocket).
This week I was able to spend a lot more time exploring the town of Jinja which was great. I picked up a few souvenirs but was also able to check out some of the favourite local cafes and bars such at The Keep, a highly recommended place to chill with drinks and snacks while escaping the inevitable downpours that happen most days. There have been a few other places that we’ve visited including a coffee place called Flavours, a cafe called Ozzie’s and a restaurant called Skewers but The Keep was by far my favourite – in fact I bought a t-shirt to keep the memories going.
The highlight of the week, however, has been interacting with the kids at Ekisa. Despite having so little, and having so many bad things happen to them, they always have such smiles on their faces and I’ll miss them. I spent quite a lot of time playing with the kids but we also took them into town a few times. One of my favourite memories was taking a few of the kids into town on Bodas so they could have sodas at The Keep – I took Paul and he had such a great time it was a pleasure to help him have a great time. There are so many great memories I’ll take away with me that I won’t mention here, although I’ll really miss Jamil and his inquisitiveness, plus Mweru and his energy but I think I’ll miss every single kid here even though I’ve only been here a week. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Emily for letting me use her room while she’s been away and to Ekisa for showing me a great time.