By Nigel Nassar
Wait for him no more, for The Walking Man, and his now 16 companion walkers including yours truly, set foot in Kampala today, Monday October 14. For those who are not yet in on the whole walking man fever, well, get this.
A man known as Kenneth Edmund Mugayehwenkyi, founder and executive director of Reach One Touch One Ministries (ROTOM), has for two weeks now been walking from Muhanga, Kabale district, all the way to Mukono, in a bid to raise awareness about issues affecting older persons in Uganda, whom ROTOM takes care of.
Well, the other reason is to raise funds to equip the two ROTOM health centres, dedicated to taking care of the elderly – one in Mukono, the other in Kabale.
And although there hasn’t been much of funds coming our way during the walk, at least the eager people we have walked through have taken home a point or two about the plight of the elderly, with a resolve to do something about it.
SAY CHEESE! David Obot, chairman Uganda Reach the Aged Association (URAA) joined the team towards the equator.
The last time we checked, the walkers were three days away from Kampala, having already covered 289km, and resting in Nkozi, Kayabwe, on the 14th day of the walk.
Day 15 on Saturday was even more eventful, as we had some fresh legs joining the team to do some historical strides to the equator line, where the north meets the south.
Seven grannies from the ROTOM headquarters in Mukono brought on board new energy that pushed the already existing team to the equator, where we carried out a petition signing ceremony that should go down in history books at some point in time, or so I think.
David Obot, chairman Uganda Reach the Aged Association (URAA), who also joined the procession towards the equator at about the same point as the grannies, officiated the ceremony, flanked by URAA advocacy officer Ivan Kintu, and ROTOM boss Kenneth The Walking Man.
At the ceremony, every walker, the grannies taking precedence, signed the petition, demonstrating their commitment to the plight of the elderly, and calling upon all countries north and south of the equator to join hands in pushing for a United Nations Convention on issues affecting the elderly.
The petition is to be presented at any upcoming human rights conferences convened by the UN around the world, where either party involved in the generation of the signatures is invited.
The walkers demonstrated their commitment to the plight of the elderly by signing the UN petition.
So, that ceremony and new walkers were pretty much the highlights of the day, though the URAA officials didn’t stay long enough to sweat it out with the rest of the team, as they had a radio show to catch.
As usual, we walked on until Kavule, Mpigi district, including the new grannies. It’s just that by the end of the more than 30km walk, everyone was knocked out. The grannies from Mukono were actually surprised that the original three grannies on the walk (two women and a man), had trekked all the way from Kabale and were not complaining one bit.
So the day’s conversation was more about the strength of a woman from Kabale hills, who tills the land all day and still does the house chores, vis-à-vis the woman from other parts of the country.
Ultimately, the woman from Kabale, in whom the original grannies on the walk saw themselves, took the day, with the Mukono grannies complaining abut the long distance covered.
Which actually worked, as it was after their complaints that the head walker decided on a stopping point for the day, and we the night at Kavule.
The motel, Travelers’ Guest Inn, was dingy, just like most we have spent our nights in on this walk. But this one sure won the trophy for being the dirtiest, most disorganized, and with the most detached attendants.
Can you imagine our eyes were met by recycled bed sheets from previous customers, dirty jerry cans, dirty basins, slimy bathrooms, broken toilet system with no running water, no bulbs, no tissue paper, and blankets that smelled of pee?
All these must be the reason a simple flu I developed earlier in the day had graduated into a heavy cough and debilitating malaria the next morning, according to the malaria rapid test strip. But worry not, it’s nothing I can’t handle, so no need to send over an ambulance. With the Lumartem dosage and other heaps nurse Lydia Naggujja has prescribed, I should be alright in a flash.
The writer, Nigel Nassar, fell sick along the way. Thanks to team nurse Lydia Naggujja, he is getting medication.
And oh, don’t get me started on the towels. But the one thing they had in plenty were condoms – on the window panes, up by the ventilators, and basically all over the place.
And who told them that’s where you keep condoms, where they are hit directly by the sun’s rays?
Aren’t these people just killing their clients instead of protecting them? Not that we didn’t complain about all these, but we were happily informed by the caretakers there that Travelers’ Guest Inn is the best around that place, and that we should shut up and enjoy the services, or lack of.
The dingy abode aside though, we woke up to good news, as were joined by two other walkers, who have been following the charity cause over the wires since it kicked off on September 28.
James Mulira, president-elect Rotary Club of Mukono, and his friend Ben Matovu, an engineer from Seeta, were the new energy we needed to push us 20km from Kavule to Kyengera, where we spent the night.
In fact, it was, Mulira’s birthday, so he dedicated his birthday to the elderly people, who actually sang him a happy-birthday song. He and his buddy were actually a good lot, for they also bought us lunch and pineapples that helped replenish lost energy.
James Mulira, president-elect Rotary Club of Mukono (L) mingles with The Wlaking Man, Kenneth Edmund Mugayehwenkyi.
As you read this, we are set to scream into the city from Kyengera to Watoto Church West, where we intend to take a prayer break. From there, we shall walk through the city and then collect at All Saints Church where we intend to spend a night.
The following day we set off to Namboole on the final lap, which should get us to the finish line in Mukono, just in time for ROTOM’s 10-year celebrations.
Here, we expect a big team joining us, some from ROTOM headquarters in Mukono, others from different Civil Society Organisations, and the everyday man on the street.
Also, Help Age International country director Joseph Bitature intends to join the walk today, so keep on a lookout.
Watch this space for more updates.
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