Ready? Set, go!
With our bags packed, one a little bigger than the other, our families said goodbye at terminal T in Zaventem. Like the other 72% of the departuring flights, our flight got delayed, but this could not dampen our excitement. After a stop in Kigali, Rwanda, we safely arrived in Entebbe, Uganda. The driver of ViaVia Guesthouse patiently awaited us and brought us to our accomodation. Luckily, the kitchen was still open so we could treat ourselves with a tasty chapati wrap and Nile Special.
After a good night’s rest, we finally got to meet our local partner and host, Mushamba Moses of Rafiki Memorial Wildlife Conservation Initiative. Together we explored Kampala, the lively (which is a euphemism) capital of Uganda. Thanks to his organisatory skills, the next day we got on the bus to Kihiihi, quite the experience… 12 exhausting hours later, we met Mushamba’s loyal Toyota, which brought us almost home, but needed a little push for the last 10 metres.
Introduction to Bwindi
For the next 7 weeks we form a little family with our lovely hosts Shivan and Mushamba. Each morning starts with a glance to the enchanting environment, followed by a royal breakfast prepared by Chef Philip. We are spoiled with his culinary talent three times a day, which fuels us with enough energy to carpe diem. The first days were filled with encounters with creative minds, friendly people and wonderful initiatives.
Mushamba guided us to the Rafiki Art Gallery, the HQ of his organisation where he strives for the conservation of the rainforest through teaching art. Currently, they are finishing the Rafiki Lodge, an amazing hub at the edge of the forest where they will welcome guests in the very near future. Rafiki supports numerous other initiatives, like the Mothers in Motion group. This community group aims to empower women by generating an income with weaving activities. They are also known for their excellent dancing and singing performances, which we could experience ourselves during their warm welcome dance.
Next to the Bakiga, the inhabitants of South-West Uganda, the Batwa are another population group in this area. This tribe of indigenous people originally lived the tough rainforest life, but where deprived in the 1990s of their habitat for conservation purposes. We had the honor to meet two settlements of Batwa, where they introduced us to their previous hunter-gatherer lifestyle and their current poor living conditions at the edge of Buhoma.
Rocket-Lorena stove v2
After a meeting with Jacenta, the head of Mothers in Motion, two skilled engineers Hakim and Samuel and the chairmen of Rafiki, Robbert and Mushamba, we started working on the local version of our Rocket-Lorena prototype. The meeting led to some adaptations to our original design: the intense mingling during the preparations of the local dishes requires a stronger material than the proposed clay mixture, which will be replaced by a sand-cement-sawdust mixture. Moreover, we finally found a solution for the multiple saucepan problem: a sloping support for the saucepan above the combustion chamber allows to use various pot sizes, while the second (left) hole has a fixed diameter.
The parents of Jacenta were so kind to welcome us in their kitchen and provide us with a place for the construction of the stove. The skills of Hakim and Samual made the theoretical design come to live after 2 hard day’s work. 2 days of drying later, we confirmed that this stove discharges the smoke efficiently through the chimney by firing some banana leaves. Further testing to determine the efficiency requires the stove to be completely dry, so a little more patience until the next update…
For more daily updates and pictures, you can follow our Instagram page (@humasol_x_rafiki)!
Rukundo Egumeho (“keep love” in local Rukyiga language),
Michiel, Douwe and Hannah