One of the things that makes Kagoma Gate so unique and intriguing is the villagers’ ability to see past their different origins and cultures and live among each other peacefully. However, when I ask the villagers about this diversity, it appears to be an irrelevant question to them. One of the questions I ask is what is it like living among people from so many different places such as Rwanda, Sudan, Congo, ect. All of them say it does not bother them. Based on observations I believe this to be genuinely true.
An example of this is the interview setting of one of the elders from Burundi. He did not remember his age but assumed he was around 70 years old. Being his age, especially after all the struggles he has overcome throughout his years, his body was not only exhausted but his mind too. It was difficult for him to understand and answer questions. Slowly, villagers including one of chief’s of the village and his neighbors began to stand and sit near us talking. At first I thought of asking if they could stay back for privacy but I noticed that the old man became more comfortable with them there and they even helped to translate the questions in to ways the man understood better. With their help, the elder provided more thorough responses.
The elder told me that his biggest challenge occurs when he falls sick but his neighbor continues to help him. Continue reading
Before I left for Uganda to begin my research, I had to receive Institutional Review Board approval from Duke because I was going to be working with human subjects. As part of this protocol, I had to make a pretty in depth outline of what my interviews would be like, including specific questions. I created categories of general background, history before Kagoma Gate, working conditions, the establishment of Kagoma Gate, the concept of radical hope, and the future. Within these categories I had many questions. This is what I have been using as a guide for my interviews, however, for the coming interviews I have—whether repeat or new people, I have realized it will be necessary to really focus on just one category at a time to truly discover what makes Kagoma Gate so unique. Continue reading
As I drove with The Giving Circle Team to visit Kagoma Gate this morning, I reflected on what I should write about in my blog for this week. I came up with a pretty good outline in my head but what we came upon in the village today had to be written about. I am still many weeks and many conversations with the villagers away from grasping how the village was created, however, I believe the experience we had today trying to help an extremely ill child has given significant insight, or at least a possible hypothesis, as to how the founders were able to create Kagoma Gate.
While walking through the village, one of the team members found a young three year old boy whose cheek was extremely swollen. When he turned his face to the side, part of his jaw was showing. Both the inside of his mouth and outside of his face was extremely infected. We did not know what was wrong but it was clear this boy needed immediate medical care. We got in the car and after passing the miles of sugar cane we arrived at the guarded off gate to the sugar cane company’s private village. Inside we passed an outside market, an inside supermarket, offices, extremely nice buildings and well-dressed people—all things completely foreign to Kagoma Gate. This was the home of the executive workers of the sugar cane company.
I have been in Uganda for a week now and I feel like it has been even more overwhelming than my first trip here a year and a half ago. After missing my connecting flight from London to Entebbe and consequentially being in 5 different countries in the span of 36 hours, I was not prepared for my first visit to Kagoma Gate. I fell asleep on the way there and I woke up surrounded by endless fields of sugar cane on both sides of the car. The sugar cane continued until out of nowhere, straw roofs and eventually the whole village of Kagoma Gate was visible—multiple mud huts in the middle of sugar cane fields. As the children came running and elders came out of the huts, Kagoma Gate became the most impoverished village I have seen yet in Uganda. There is nothing in the village. We traced the closest primary school to be 6.1 km away and the nearest high school and birthing center to be 8.8 km away. Because of this, Kagoma Gate is extremely isolated having no medical care or education. It is too dangerous for the young children to walk to school, having to pass miles of sugar cane, because of child abductions and child sacrifice. No one will travel through the sugar cane past dark because the fear for their lives. Here is a photo of the road that leads you to the village.