So far so good. The team is nearly half-way through their journey.
JOURNEY OF HOPE AWARENESS AND CHARITY WALK 2019
By Joseph Kizza
CURRENT LOCATION: BUDAKA DISTRICT
So far so good. Pretty much everything is going according to the script. The Journey of Hope Awareness and Charity Walk 2019 team have made a lot of ground in a quest to reach Napak district in Karamoja sub-region from Kampala in 18 days, a distance of 467km.
Today (Monday) is rest day, and the mood in the camp is as high as it was on the first day exactly a week ago, when the walkers set off from Parliament in Uganda's capital destined for the north-east.
Over the weekend, the team walked a total of 60km. As it stands, altogether, 204km have been chipped off the targetted 467km. After today's rest, the team will get back on the road on Tuesday with their minds set on getting to Mbale, the next (eighth) pit stop.
On Saturday, the team set off from an abandoned Police post near a railway crossing in Namalemba sub-county in Bugweri district.
In the picture, from left (botton row), Paul, Rita, Caitlene, Simon Peter, Timothy, Isaac and from left (top row), Linda, Tamara and Aaron - and Joe (behind the camera).
They had spent the night at Namalemba sub-county headquarters near the Namalemba Prison, which is about 4km ahead.
Across the road, from where the Journey of Hope team had camped, is Naigombwa Primary School. A group of pupils from the school and one of their teachers wanted to take part in the walk.
So the Journey of Hope team, who carried two Journey of Hope flags and a Uganda flag, waited for them by the roadside.
At the Namalemba sub-county headquarters, the team had had ample space for camping.
The pupils of Naigombwa Primary School eventually crossed the road to join the Journey of Hope crew. Excitement was in the air.
The young joiners would walk a distance of nearly a mile from their school, hand over one of the flags to a Journey of Hope walker, before U-turning back their school.
After being briefed by Dwelling Places' publicist Joshua about what the Journey of Hope Awareness and Charity Walk is all about, the school children set off along with the rest of the team.
Along the way, the large group chanted "Schools not streets! Schools not streets!"
The Journey of Hope Walk campaign, now in its third edition, is riding on the tagline #SchoolsNotStreets. The idea behind this is that children should be in school and not on the streets.
Majority of children loitering on the streets of Kampala, for example, have been found to originate from Karamoja, with particularly Napak district being a leading source of these street-connected children.
In the 2017 edition, funds were raised for the construction of a classroom block at Lomaratoit Primary School in Napak district. Dwelling Places, the Christian non-profit behind the campaign, supports hundreds of children in this school. As of 2019, 95% of the funds had been realised.
They now want to build a secondary school in the same area (Lomaratoit village in Iriri sub-county). Therefore, the latest edition's funds will be put into achieving this.
"Every child deserves to be in school," Rita Nkemba, the founding director of Dwelling Places, has severally said.
Like in the last two editions, the walkers are determined to walk all the way from Kampala to Karamoja, making a number of stopovers to recuperate form the rigors of walking - under mostly sweltering weather - for as long as 30km evey day.
On their way to Namutumba district, their sixth pit stop, the team had to walk through Busembatia, which is in Busoga sub-region. The town is located on the northern edge of Iganga district.
Lunch break of the day was in Kalamira village, Magada parish in Namutumba under a tree at St. Francis de Sales Church.
Every step of the way, the Journey of Hope walkers have been closely monitored by a three-strong team of paramedics from Elpa Uganda. Isaac, Lynette and Paul make up this emergency and rescue crew. The first three days of the walk had other members join the paramedics team, who had to make way along the trip. Some walkers have have to be treated for blisters and a few others for dehydration. Soothing massages during and at the end of the day's walk have been also been an important component of the journey.
So far, no major incidents.
Timothy Nkemba, Rita's son, has been a keen participant both on the road and back at camp with the logistics team.
After covering 30km, the walkers would finally arrive at the camp site in Namutumba, and as anticipated, draw a lot of local attention.
The following day, it was back to business as usual. Road business it was.
First, a routine spiritual session by Soul Touch Ministries to start us off, followed by breakfast, a quick stretching session, refilling of water bottles and then a return to the journey.
The camp site was not far from an extensive area of swampy vegetation on River Mpologoma on the Iganga-Tirinyi-Mbale road.
Aaron Wamaya carried a Journey of Hope flag and took the lead. Visiting German student Tamara Walz and Napak resident Simon Peter Adungo were close behind.
Meanwhile, a lone fisherman went about his business in his wobbly canoe on the river.
And this bird ironed out its wings ready to take flight.
Ritah Nkemba and Chris Abba took on the walk on an overcast morning.
Later in the morning, the team at the front, Aaron, Simon Peter, Tamara and Chris took a pause for a photo opportunity.
A Sunday that had started overcast eventually turned into a sweltering one as the Journey of Hope walkers carried on with their cross-country charity expidition.
The walk started on July 1 and is expected to end on July 18 in Lomaratoit village, Napak district.
Walkers have two days of resting inbetween the journey (including today).
Along the way, in Budaka district, nature started taking on a different physical form.
And finally in Nakibulu village, Macholi parish in Budaka - the seventh pit stop. While some received a soothing foot massage, others were keen to learn some Ngakarimojong, the language spoken by the Karimojong.
Simon Peter Adungo, who offered 19 acres of his land on which to build the planned Lomaratoit Seconday School, was the man at the heart of the language session.
He passionately taught his interested audience how to say some words and phrases in Ngakarimojong. Paramedic Isaac of Elpa Uganda, was a particularly keen student.
Adungo, aged 51 with 15 children, hails from Iriri sub-county in Napak district. He is walking with the team every step of the way. He says the Karimojong are used to walking long distances. Indeed, his presence on the road is a true embodiment of strength and endurance.
Meanwhile, the camp had an unexpected visitor . . .
A curious turkey . . .
After doing its aerial inspection of the camp site, the inquistive turkey finally used the ambulance's roof as the runway and took flight - not into the sky of course, but instead back to the ground.
For its third edition, the biennial Journey of Hope campaign, has had partners give generously to make the walk a success: New Vision, Terres des Hommes (a Dutch organisation working to, among other things, end child trafficking), City Tyres, Cafe Javas and Girls Advocacy Alliance, which is aimed at eliminating gender-based violence and economic exclusion of women and adolescent girls.
ALSO RELATED TO THIS STORY
Journey of Hope Walk 2019 diary: Day Five
Journey of Hope Walk 2019 diary: Day Four
Journey of Hope Walk 2019 diary: Day Three
Journey of Hope Walk 2019 diary: Day Two
Journey of Hope Walk 2019 diary: Day One