Monday, February 9, 2009

Beeing Kind

Last summer a group of children donated money for us to use in bee/honey-related projects among the Ik. We used half of the money last fall to buy 25 new bee-hives. Last week we used the other half to host a bee-keeping seminar for a small group of honey-farmers. We invited Simon Turner, founder of Malaika Honey in Kampala, to come and conduct the training. He brought new bee-suits and honey-harvesting equipment and spend four days with us and the Ik teaching them ways to streamline their honey production for increased income.

The Ik have harvesting honey for centuries, so in a way we were preaching to the choir. But their traditional methods included using fire to kill the bees before getting the honey. Wearing suits and using smokers allows the bee to live and keep producing honey. Simon was suprised to learn that the Ik put their hives in the tops of very tall trees to protect them from thieves and forest fires. That practice makes the whole business a bit dangerous and a lot less efficient.

The training provided us the opportunity to spend our first nights ever in Ik country, which we did with a tent set up inside an empty dormitory at the elementary school in Kamion. Having tasted the quietude and clean air, I have to see we look forward to when we can stay up there for longer periods of time.

Those who participated in the training

Climbing a tree to harvest honey

Training in progress

Sunrise in Kamion

Where we spent our first night in Ik country

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Meet and Greet

We saw that horrific wreck on the way back from Kamion where we had attended a meeting between several NGOs, g’ment officials, Ik schoolchildren and parents. The meeting was called to provide an opportunity for open dialogue between the contributors and the recipients of scholarship money for Ik schoolchildren. There was a huge turnout of several hundred people. The Ik were able to express their appreciation as well as voice some concerns, which were then answered by the panel of donor partners. It was a historical moment because it is rare that recipients of funding on the ground get a face-to-face forum with donors. It was decided that such a meeting will be held every January. We were honored to be invited to the meeting and glad for the chance to learn more about the needs of the Ik communities.

One minute you're...and then you're...

Last Thursday on our way back from Kamion we were the first on the scene of a terrible accident. The driver of this truck apparently lost brakes and the ability to downshift (possibly due to a broken differential). The horrific result was two dead and twenty injured. And people wonder why we aren't more eager to cram people into our vehicle! We picked up one survivor with a busted ankle. While we were still looking at the wreck, a group of 10-12 armed warriors approached and demanded to see who we had in the back of the vehicle. Seeing that the wounded was not the truckdriver, they left hurriedly. We heard later that they were looking for the driver to kill him. Hmmm...that's one way to seek justice, I guess. As always, we are thankful for the traveling safety we've had in our first year in Uganda.