Author Archives: yhsuganda

Entebbe, July 21

We have arrived in Entebbe and are sitting here typing this post as the girls giggle and play a game in the common room of our hotel. They have really bonded over this experience and have become a tight knit group of world travellers with a penchant for hot chapatti and fresh mangoes. 

Our week in Ibanda left us with a sense of accomplishment after delivering numerous literacy workshops to enthusiastic students and opening the doors to a budding new library. 

We’ve reached the threshold of reflection on an incredible journey and anticipation of returning home to you, our loved ones! Tomorrow will see us visiting a women’s centre and having one final supper together in Uganda before an early morning flight takes us all the way back to Vancouver on Monday. See you then!

Thanks and enjoy your weekend,

Katie, Anja and Marianne

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Ibanda, July 17th

Well, we have seen much since last we posted! Lions, elephants, hippos, crocodiles, baboons, monkeys, buffalo and more birds than we could possibly name. Queen Elizabeth Park was a safari experience of a lifetime and we left Sunday with many images and memories to share.

We are now in Ibanda, settling into a routine at Kimunyu Memorial Primary School. After a warm welcome from students and staff, we have already begun to deliver our literacy workshops and the library is quickly taking shape! This town is lovely, surrounded by rolling hills and winding country roads lined with children and banana trees. Time now feels short and it’s difficult to believe we will be back in Vancouver in less than a week!

Electricity, let alone internet, is in short and sporadic supply, but we will aim to be in touch once or twice more before leaving Uganda. We are here in Ibanda until Saturday, at which point we will make the long drive back to Entebbe for a quick visit and debrief. Everyone is doing great and we continue to be incredibly proud of the way our girls are representing their school and their country over here.

Thanks, as always, for your comments and support. We can’t wait to share our experience with you in person!

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We’re off to see the Lions and Chimps and Hippos – Oh My!

Wasuze otya!

As I write, the girls are enjoying a last breakfast overlooking the textured, misty ridges that stretch out in all directions from our patio-perch at Hotel Zebra in Masaka.

The past couple of days have been packed with new and exciting experiences. The girls enjoyed perusing the main street in Masaka where vendors sell everything from jackfruit, mangoes(less than 25 cents for 5!), passionfruit and beautiful fabrics, to doughnuts( these were a huge hit!) and junky plastic toys from China.

A second visit to Taso provided the opportunity to interview a counsellor from the center who provides services for clients with HIV. Their questions reflected a keen interest in the emotional and social implications as well as the scientific details of the pathology.

Perhaps one of the most powerful experiences of the trip thus far, our trip to The Good Samaritan School for the Deaf, yesterday afternoon left students and teachers alike considering taking up lessons in sign language when we return to Canada.

The acutely attentive and friendly children and teachers at the school welcomed us warmly and gave us “sign names” after we signed our names for them in alphabet form. They use a distinctive facial quality to decide the name. As I recall, for example, Ellen was a hand sweeping her forehead to signify her bangs, Amelia a pinch of the chin to emulate her cute little chin. Ask your daughter about her “sign name” and I’m sure she will show it to you, along with many more signs that they learned form the children.

We laughed, played and signed with the children and teachers at the school for hours and could barely be torn away when it was time to head back to masaka. Upon returtn to YHS in the fall the girls are considering setting up an email exchange for the students at the school for the deaf and some young Yorkies. What a great way to build and continue connections!

After these jam-packed days in Masaka, the girls have packed their bags for a Safari in Queen Elizabeth Park. After breakfast, we’re off to spot a lion or two!

Until next time, nkwagaliza bulungi!

-Ms. Sigloch

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Masaka, July 9th

Hello, all!

Quite a bit has happened since my last post – all positive and inspiring, to be sure! We’ve spent the majority of our time at the Kitengeesa Community Library reading with local children, observing a training day with the women from Solar Sisters, and preparing for our own literacy program, which we will present and deliver to students at the primary school in Ibanda next week. We’ve also spent our first day at TASO, a local HIV/AIDS clinic, once again working primarily with children in the child care centre by reading, making bracelets or playing tag in the yard while they await treatment or counseling. We have been so incredibly proud of our students for the genuine interest they take in the children here in Masaka. Whenever there are kids around, which seems to be most of the time, our girls jump right into action playing games and making conversation with ease. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that these kids are over-the-top adorable and loving! I wish I could post some photos for you here because there have been many a touching moment.

Tomorrow, we head to Afri-Pads where we will work alongside some local women in Kitengeesa crafting re-usable sanitary napkins and, in the afternoon, our girls will join the Afri-Pads team as they market the product and provide some outreach to students at a nearby secondary school. On Wednesday we will head back to TASO for the morning and will spend the afternoon at a school for deaf children, which is something the girls have expressed an interest in checking out after learning a bit of sign language from one of the interns at the community library.

The weather has been really manageable, giving us cool mornings and evenings with a nice breeze at all hours of the day that serves to keep us cool when the sun gets hot. There is lots of shad and indoor space, so we have been lucky to have the means to escape the midday heat most of the time. Food has been consistent and predictable, but also quite delicious. We are on a steady diet of rice, beans, matooke (sort of like mashed plantains) and stewed vegetables. Today, though, we ate lunch at a different hotel close to the hospital that had quite a varied menu and most of the girls enjoyed some vegetable curry for a nice change. I imagine there will be many requests for salads and fresh vegetables when we get home…

That’s about all the news from our end. Things here move incredibly slowly, whether it’s the line at the bank or the internet, so I will likely not update the blog again until Wednesday evening as we prepare to leave Masaka and head out on safari. In the meantime, rest assured that we’re doing great here in Uganda and we hope all is well on your end too!

Thanks, everyone!!

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Masaka, Day 1

Hello everyone!

We have officially begun our incredible adventure here in Uganda. Yesterday was our first day waking up in Masaka and it is already starting to feel familiar. We had breakfast at the hotel and hit the dusty trail (literally) for Tekera where we would spend the day touring a local farmer’s co-op, elementary school and women’s craft initiative all started by a Canadian couple about 7 years ago. It was a little Ugandan Utopia! We saw pineapples growing, played with children for hours and walked to the local water source (aka The Magic Tree) in an effort to gain greater understanding of the value of simple natural resources that we take for granted in Canada. Some highlights included playing duck-duck-goose with the little ones, learning from local women how to weave baskets and getting to know our local community a little bit better.

Today we head to a nearby town called Kitengesa where we will visit the library and discuss literacy activities with some UBC students who are here on an internship right now. We will also spend a bit of time at the secondary school next to the library where we hear they are hosting their annual science fair today – that will be of interest to many of our girls! We are fortunate enough to be going to a special BBQ dinner tonight at a German (?!) restaurant in town as well. The girls are enjoying breakfast on the patio as I type this and all are doing really well. We are so impressed with their enthusiasm and genuine curiosity. What a team!!

I will update in a couple of days as internet really is a bit of a challenge here. Should you need to contact us in case of emergency, however, we now have 2 active cell phones. The numbers are: 256.793.278.525 and 256.792.124.265. We are keeping the phones turned off in general, but will be checking for messages each night.

Thanks, as always, for your love and support!

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We have FINALLY made it to Masaka safe, sound and smelling like a bunch of roses 😉 The girls were real troopers on what was a voyage of epic proportions and are now resting before supper here at Hotel Zebra. Our hosts, Dan and Prossy, met us at the airport this morning and took us on a little tour of the region, including lunch at a little spot that sits right on the Equator! Unfortunately, the internet connection is hardwired (as opposed to wireless) and I am unable to upload photos from my camera to the hotel’s computer. Suffice it to say that we have had some some stunning vistas today en route from Entebbe to Masaka and are really looking forward to spending the next 3 weeks getting to know this beautiful country.

On the immediate agenda – shower and relax before dinner. Tomorrow, we are spending the day working with Tekera harvesting pineapples and learning how to weave baskets with some of the local women. I will update as we go and, with any luck, we’ll figure out how to post some photos for you all!

Thanks, as always, for your support and stay tuned for more tales of African adventure!


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This just in …

…Uganda is a loooooong way from home. After a 9 hour flight and 5 hours in London, we are almost ready to spend our second consecutive night on an airplane. The good news is, when we wake up we will be in Entebbe, Uganda! All are weary but well and looking forward to our adventure, perhaps now more than ever.

Thanks for your support and love!

PS: If the airport is any indication, London has put a ton of work into their Olympic preparations – this place feels more like a big, shiny shopping mall than an airport!

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The bliss of growth, the glory of action…

While in Uganda, we will be visiting and working with several local organizations who are affecting growth and creating opportunities within their respective communities. In an effort to help feed the momentum, we are raising money that will go towards supporting the various programs listed below. Thanks for taking a moment to read about these innovative projects and please consider supporting them in some capacity by following the donations link to the right of this page.



Afri-Pads is an amazing example of how social enterprise can provide local work while at the same time tackle important issues in education. Did you know that in countries such as Uganda girls miss school every month during menstruation? This has a huge impact on their success at school. They fall behind in their studies and struggle to recover. Afri-Pads employs primarily female staff to make high quality reusable cloth menstrual pads. Afri-Pads works with local girls to tackle taboos related to menstruation. Their pads are donated or sold at a low price to local girls and women. What a simple, sustainable solution to prevent girls missing school one week a month! York students will visit the factory and learn how to make Afri-Pads. They will run an outreach activity alongside the Afri-Pads social worker and distribute their donated packs. Watch a video on Afri-Pads here.

Solar Sisters


Solar Sister is an award winning social enterprise that eradicates energy poverty by empowering women with economic opportunity.  They combine the breakthrough potential of solar technology with a deliberately woman-centered direct sales network to bring light, hope and opportunity to even the most remote communities in rural Africa. Investing in women is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.  Solar Sister creates sustainable businesses, powered by smart investment in women entrepreneurs. Participants will learn first hand from a successful Solar Sister entrepreneur about their work, local networking, balancing work and their family life, and how women and communities are benefiting from access to reasonably priced solar lanterns, as well as, about the struggle of energy poverty and the benefits of renewable energy solutions such as solar lighting. York students will join a training day and work alongside new recruits to sell lanterns. They will purchase lanterns from the new recruits to donate to their partner primary school Kimunyu. The donated lanterns will be used for studying and safety while walking at night to the latrines. Special lanterns are also available as a social enterprise- they can be used to charge mobile phones for a small fee.



TASO (The AIDS Support Organization) is a world famous Ugandan run AIDS organization that has been instrumental in Uganda’s fight against the disease. TASO is a member based organization and members play a vital role in determining TASO’s programming. TASO’s programming is multi-faceted. They offer home-based care, outreach clinics, day care centres, and medical care. As well, they counsel people with HIV/AIDS, their families, their communities, and work on a national level to combat stigmas related to the disease. They use drama, music and dance to reach out to Ugandan communities. TASO also provides apprenticeship programs, youth groups, and support to AIDS orphans. Because of the sensitivity of TASO’s work, York students will focus on supporting youth members as they go through their clinic days. Donations will include books for the youth members to read while waiting to be tested, counselled, and given medication.



Many Ugandans are subsistence farmers and farming provides the primary source of work for rural Ugandans. How do farmers move from subsistence based farming to making a profit? They need access to knowledge, training, and to inexpensive solutions for irrigation and fertilization. This produces a long term, sustainable solution to pay for housing, house supplies, their children’s education, and help families save for medical support and other emergencies. It also helps remove dependency on the UN World Food Program and other outside food resources to improve local food security. Tekera is an unusual form of a social enterprise. It was founded by a Canadian nurse and her husband. They wanted to provide medical services but didn’t like the idea of it being 100% charity funded. So they created a community agriculture project where community members can work to earn money (their own form) to pay for medical services. Since it started they have opened a primary school, started a craft business, and started a farmer’s co-operative.  York students will visit Tekera to learn about what Ugandans are doing to improve food security and improve access to agricultural knowledge.  They will help with the pineapple harvest and preparing other produce for the market. Participants will also learn from the women’s business initiatives and get a chance to participate in some of their income generating activities- learning how to make woven baskets. The York students will use fundraising money to purchase Tekera mats and baskets to decorate the new Kimunyu Primary School library.

Kimunyu Primary School


This is an exciting year for Kimunyu Primary School in Ibanda. The York students will be converting a basic room into a welcoming library. The students will work along side a local painter and carpenter to transform the room. Bookshelves, a table and chairs will be added. Decorations such as mats purchased from Tekera will brighten the space. Solar lanterns from Solar Sister will be used during homework time for the boarders. And the shelves will be filled with books from Kidsbooks in Vancouver as well as locally sourced books from Uganda and East Africa’s active publishing industry.

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