I spent time this week going to a few craft markets in Kampala to purchase gifts for my family and friends at home. I have been really impressed with the quality of handmade crafts that are available throughout the city. You can get any article of clothing custom made by tailors and furniture, sculptures, jewelry, and toys likewise can all be custom made for very reasonable prices by skilled artists.
Exploring the markets was fun. A Ugandan friend from work went with me to help me find things and to negotiate prices for me. There are so many impressive objects all made from local materials including wood, paper, clay, and bone. There are beautiful pieces of jewelry constructed entirely out of recycled paper or glass, and of course everything is available in bright Ugandan colors.
At work, this week has been a little hectic back at our office in Kampala. We are currently sharing our office space with our partners from Search for Common Ground’s South Sudan office because they were evacuated from South Sudan last week. The number of people in our office has doubled while Search and their partners operate from Kampala and are probing for news and information coming out of South Sudan. While in Kampala they are meeting and discussing how to proceed on their projects and looking for safe windows in time to return to South Sudan.
I have been hearing rumors for weeks now of escalated violence in South Sudan. My colleagues have been telling stories of villagers hiding in swamps for their own safety and of refugees coming south into Uganda in large numbers. Now Uganda has officially closed its boarder with South Sudan and sent in troops to evacuate all Ugandans from that country. It looks like things are going to get worse before they get better and that Uganda may see increased numbers of refugees for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, the SAFE staff is hard at work completing its quarterly report which maps all that the program has begun and accomplished in the past several months. I’ve been helping out by verifying material for the report and editing information with the legal staff.
Now I am wrapping up my work and my time exploring Kampala. I only have one week left in Uganda now and the time I have spent here seems to have flown by.