Monday, September 12, 2011

"Uwe Na Safari Njema"

Source: Google Maps

Well I am now counting down the hours till lift off and I will soon arrive in Uganda for the Nakivale Refugee Trek 2011. Am I ready? Not really. I haven’t done half the training I had hoped for but I am setting off with 5 fellow Australia for UNHCR donors on our Fundraising Challenge which involves trekking over 30km up the Rwenzori Mountain range in south-west Uganda. This is a very remote part of Uganda. On one side of the mountain range is Congo and on the other Rwanda, and about two hours away is Nakivale Refugee Settlement which is our final destination on this trek.

Last night our guides emailed to say the rainy season has come early so we need to bring plenty of wet gear. So, although I have packed my poncho, boots, and plenty of spare socks, I will be praying for sunshine by the time we arrive at the mountain.

Our donor trek team has done an amazing job and raised about $40,000 with more to come. The funds raised will go towards our projects in Nakivale to support clean drinking water projects, improved health services and more educational support for the many thousands of young people who live in the settlement.

In Nakivale, our Australia for UNHCR project manager Kayte Webb is planning a great welcome. Australian donors have helped fund the first ever Computer Technology Access Centre (CTA) and this will officially open on Tuesday 20th September with lots of entertainment provided by refugee musicians and performers. Lameck, a refugee from Congo, is a fantastic rap artist and the Burundian drummers are sensational. I know that there are already refugees lining up, eager to use the computer facilities, learn new skills and have access via technology to a wider world.

A group of students at school in
Nakivale Refugee Settlement
I am also helping Kayte to launch our Skype project through which we will link up a school in Australia and school children in Nakivale via a real-time video connection. This hasn’t been done anywhere else in the world so another first for Australia for UNHCR and our donors!

I look forward to telling you about how the trip goes as well as our projects in Nakivale. We are hoping to do another trip next year up Mt Kilimanjaro so please contact Sue Cowden at Australia for UNHCR if you are interested. In the meantime I hope you travel well - or as my Kenyan friends say Uwe na safari njema.

Naomi Steer