By Nigel Nassar
It has been some three days since your last update about the ongoing 400km charity walk from Kabale district to Mukono. The 15 walkers, including yours truly, had made it to Masaka town the last time we checked. That was on Tuesday October 08, the walk’s 11th day, with 242km covered.
Well, the walkers, led by Reach One Touch One Ministries (ROTOM) founder and executive director Kenneth Edmund Mugayehwenkyi, have since made bigger strides, along the way sensitizing people on issues affecting the elderly, and challenging them to do something.
Day 12, which came on Independence Day Wednesday October 9, kicked off rather late, so the walkers had a nasty time with the scotching sun out there on the winding road.
That was because as The Walking Man and his entourage screamed into Masaka the previous night; most of the town had picked wind of the arrival, and needed to engage us the morning of Day 12.
As a result, Good News Church invited us over to share with their leaders and congregation. Here, it turned out we had more hidden talent in us than we actually knew.
ROTOM nurse Lydia Naggujja, whom we have been relegating strictly to giving us medical care, finding us a place to sleep, food and seeing to it that the three senior citizens walking with us are fine, pulled off a new one.
During the church’s praise and worship segment, she got up on stage and started playing the church drums that lay there idle, gathering dust. Just like that! And she did it with some sort of prowess too, which took us by surprise, for someone who is always holed up at the elderly people’s health centre in Muhanga, Kabale.
PRAYER TIME: The charity team won't set off each day before calling on God to guide them through their journey.
And just when we thought that was all, she switched and led the choir in singing, her voice tearing across the neighbourhood. Later we learned she’s an upcoming gospel artiste.
That was a pleasant surprise, even for her boss, Kenneth The Walking Man, who, on top of having powerful evangelists for ROTOM employees (even their cleaners are evangelists of sorts), now he adds a gospel singer on his repertoire. Good stuff, huh?
We all danced and praised. So our day’s walk kicked off with some fun, which consumed the two elderly women on the walk so much you would think they hadn’t covered 242km so far.
Well, we eventually hit the road, after The Walking Man had had his moment of fame, explaining to the church leaders the ROTOM vision, which, in essence, involves seeing to it that older persons live dignified and fulfilling lives.
With all that on the plate, we set off towards midday, not our usual 8:00am. That made our 12km walk to Butende harder, as the hilly terrain and scotching sun didn’t help one bit.
But thanks to the Sistercian Monastery at Butende, whose runners offered half of the team free accommodation to cool off. We were also able to secure free accommodation from Butende Parish Priest Father Venantius Kivumbi, and Gregory Primary School Head teacher Joseph Kateregga.
WE DO APPRECIATE: Meet-and-greet moments are common along the way.
Masaka town though hadn’t got over us, so after settling in at the different places of abode for the night, Kenneth The Walking Man, his board member Dr. John K. Kimbe and nurse Lydia had to use the logistics car to drive back to Masaka FM, to represent the team on a popular talk show.
From the numerous callers over the show’s two hours, with several seeking additional information or simply appreciating the cause, it is clear the show was a success, though the day was jam-packed and exhausting.
Day 13 on October 10, Thursday to be exact, wasn’t as hard as the previous four days, much as we did just 13km from Butende to Lukaya, where we spent the night. In fact, the terrain is certainly easing up and flattening out for us, though the heat continues unabated.
The day’s highlight was an encounter with a man called Allan Sabiti, who has been following the updates in New Vision and all the radio stations in western Uganda, as he went about his trips between Kampala and Katuna, Uganda’s border with Rwanda.
So yesterday (Thursday), he showed up, delivering to us a carton of Riham Cola soda and $20, a thing he said he has been planning to do since we started walking two weeks ago on September 28.
Then as we approached our overnight motel in Lukaya, guess who else showed up – Kabale tycoon Aponye, the owner of that massive Aponye Mall downtown Kampala, and several Aponye trucks. Yes, that one, real name Apollo Nyegamehe, from where he gets Aponye.
MINGLE WITH TYCOON: Kabale tycoon Apollo Nyegamehe (R) donated and promised more towards the cause.
Well, he donated sh50,000 to the cause, promising better next time. I pray that next time comes at all, for if it does, a man of Aponye’s financial muscle can suffocate a million elderly people with sponsorship of all sorts of good stuff.
Any way, he was actually impressed by the cause, especially seeing as Kenneth The Walking Man comes from his village, Muhanga.
We wrapped the day up with the children and grannies buying new pairs of walking shoes each at Lukaya, and a number of us shaving off our overgrown hair.
Policemen 'quench our thirst'
So, with Thursday’s 13km, that summed at 263 from Kabale to Lukaya, bringing us closer to Kampala by 100km. Top that up with the 26km we have just downed an hour ago from Lukaya to Nkozi, Kayabwe, and we are closer to Kampala by 74km.
Friday’s highlight was a team of traffic police officers we met in Lukaya, who gave us some money for water. On the whole, Ategeka, Ssali and Madila were so good to us, which reminds me of last week’s Twinamatsiko, who bought us jackfruit.
HERE, QUENCH YOUR THIRST: These "cool" police officers gave the team money to buy water. Huge hearts!
Clearly the traffic cops on this road are cool, huh?
On Saturday (October 12), we converge at the equator line, where the north meets the south, where we expect to be joined by some fresh legs.
Dr. David Obot, chairman URAA, and Titus Ouma, whose portfolio at the gender ministry is the elderly, has also promised to join the walk at the equator. Each will of course have a team accompanying them, so look out for that.
Also, Help Age International country director Joseph Bitature intends to join the walk on Monday October 14 at Kyengera, and walk with us into Kampala, according to The Walking Man’s mailbox.
So that’s how close we are, and our legs are pretty much used by now. Watch this space for more updates, and please don’t be blinded by the fun fare that we sometimes encounter on the walk, that makes its way in the updates.
THIS WAY: ROTOM board member Dr. John K. Kimbe (front-right) replicates his leadership potential on the walk.
Making a difference
This walk seeks to raise awareness about issues affecting the elderly, as well as raise funds to equip ROTOM’s two health centres, dedicated to serving that age group. So while you enjoy the updates, please take a moment to change the life of at least one suffering elderly person out there, as suffering is all many of them go through.
They have been written off by many, their children deceased due to HIV, and now wallow in loneliness without the financial ability to meet their health needs or raise their grand children.
ROTOM, which will be celebrating 10 years serving older persons on October 19, exists to alleviate such issues, the reason its founder and head is on this painstaking walk. Reach him on email@example.com in case you want to donate. This is your chance to make a difference.
FRUITY TIME: And when it's time to take a rest, how better than to prepare your taste buds for some juicy jackfruit . . .
. . . and the delight that comes with digging right in!
Tough 400km charity walkers reach Masaka
Serious 'elderly issues’ as 400km walk intensifies
‘Walking man’ now in Mbarara, 283km to go
The 400km walk: How it is coming on
Walking 400km for the love of the elderly