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What is a “site visit”? Or: what we did in Uganda

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

Hello SIA friends!

After a much-needed break, I am back in the SIA office and working through the photos, memories, reports, and stories from the trip. Part of difficulty in returning from any SIA trip to Africa is that the daily work of site visits is so different from SIA desk work in North America.

What do site visit days looks like? Samson and Sharon from Universal Love Alliance (SIA partners in Uganda) wrote up the following summary about the three days that Barbara and I spent visiting them:

On 26th June, Tanya, Barbara and Rev. Morgan Guyton (from New Orleans) came to the ULA offices. They had a short conversation in Samson’s office. Then, in the board room, they joined faith leaders who are ULA workshop graduates. These faith leaders shared how the ULA workshops changed their attitudes about their tolerance of LGBTI people, the inclusive message they are now preaching, and the follow up work they are doing in their communities. They also talked about the many challenges they are now facing. Tanya, Barbara, and Morgan each addressed the faith leaders.

Tanya thanking the faith leaders for their courage in preaching about tolerance and inclusivity in the face of hate.

The following day, early in the morning (5:30am), Samson and Sharon picked up the visitors and we set off to Mbarara, in the western part of Uganda. We had a stopover at the Equator and had breakfast at 10:00am. We later proceeded to Mbarara and went to the hotel for lunch.

Crossing the equator!

After lunch, we went to the field and met the Nyakaikara women’s group which had received pigs from ULA. A lot was shared about raising the pigs and having a sustainable way for members of the group to support themselves. The session concluded with singing a folk song and dancing along to it.

Pigs cared for by the Nyakaikara Women’s Group.

From there, we went and visited the Katereza women’s group. They welcomed us with a song and took us to their pig sty where we found their very healthy-looking pigs. The group sang a traditional song and four of us participated in a dance to accompany the music. Later in the evening, at around 7:00 PM, we travelled back to Mbarara to stay the night. [Tanya’s note: Barbara typed up her notes at the end of each day, so she borrowed my computer and typed them up after dinner that night.]

In the morning of the 28th June, we went to meet two other women groups who also received pigs. We first met with Rwensinga. They sung a new song about human rights and then performed a traditional song as well. Some of them gave touching testimonies about what they are going through. Others expressed their appreciation for ULA for having helped them and for teaching them how to live with others in the community regardless of the challenges they are facing.

From Rwensinga, we proceeded to meet the Nyakaikara Women’s Group together with their male allies. They welcomed us and took us to the sty where pigs were. We later moved to the shelter where they presented a play and a traditional dance. Speeches were given and later members presented some gifts to the visitors.

A drama from the Nyakaikara group about the importance of keeping girls in school.

At around 1:00pm, we set off for the Bitereko Vocational School in the Mitooma district to meet the Inclusive Club there. On our way, we had a stopover at the Crane Hotel Ishaka for lunch. We then proceeded to the school where we found parents, teachers, students and other community leaders waiting for us.

We were welcomed by some parents at the gate entrance. Tanya was given a bouquet of flowers there. Tanya led an opening ceremony of the Harmony garden and the water tank. Tanya and Rev. Guyton watered the garden and harvested from it.

Being official and cutting the ribbon to open the new water tank!

We moved to the tents where the inclusive club members presented different items including; a poem about SIA, a song of inclusiveness and a traditional dance where visitors, some teachers and parents also joined in. Speeches were given. We set off for Kampala late, arriving after midnight. [Tanya’s note: we actually arrived at 2am…]

Barbara, Morgan, Samson, Tanya, and Sharon – lots of hours in the van with this team!

The next day in the morning, Samson and Sharon went to pick up Rev. Guyton, Tanya, and Barbara from their respective hotels and we went to the US Embassy in Kampala. We met with the small grants officer there.

In conclusion, this visit was very important for ULA work. It encouraged ULA allies in Uganda and gave them more confidence in ULA. Likewise, the presence of Barbara, Tanya, and Rev. Guyton was encouraging to ULA staff and volunteers.

On behalf of ULA-Uganda together with the ULA-Foundation Board in the U.S., we would like to thank SIA for the support it has given us. This support helps to make Uganda and East Africa in general, a better place for every person.

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