From Kumi, the walkers pitch camp at Rhema High School in Soroti, the 12th pit stop.
JOURNEY OF HOPE AWARENESS AND CHARITY WALK 2019
By Joseph Kizza
CURRENT LOCATION: SOROTI
Step by step, we are getting there. The Journey of Hope #SchoolsNotStreets campaign walkers have covered 324km on a mission to reach Napak district in Karamoja sub-region, having began the journey in Kampala on July 1. This year, funds will go into the construction of a secondary school in Lomaratoit village in Iriri sub-county.
We have been walking for nearly a fortnight and on our 12th leg (on Friday), we took on a rather flat course from Kumi all the way to Soroti to settle in for the night and enjoy a rest day.
We signed out of Kumi at about 7:30am after enjoying hospitality at a residence strewn with mango and orange trees, with our amiable hosts also offering us a huge polythene bag of roasted groundnuts to snack away on as dusk reared its head. Our resumption point was Ammi Angels Academy and like all the other days past, the group was raring to get back on the road.
About one kilometre into our walk, we were joined by Union Vision Mission Christian Secondary School, which is a mixed day & boarding school right along the road.
The students chanted the campaign tagline 'Schools not streets!' as we all walked towards Mukura trading centre, where another school would take the baton.
Union Vision Mission Christian Secondary School handed over the flag and banners to King of Kings Secondary School as the business in the trading centre ground to a standstill.
"So what does being in school mean to you?" I asked one of the marching students, who is in Senior Three.
"I am guaranteed a good future," she panted. "I cannot imagine life without an education."
I picked the minds of her colleagues and found out they harboured similar sentiments.
Mukura Memorial Secondary School joined in on the campaign, with the students exuding passion as they walked holding placards bearing messages of education and children's rights.
The #SchoolsNotStreets campaign is premised on the idea that children have a right to an education and they should be supported to get into and stay in school as opposed to letting them end up on the street. Most street children in Kampala and other major towns have been found to come from Karamoja sub-region.
On Friday, we slalomed through Koloin parish in Kapir subcounty, Ngora, and for a second successive day, we were blessed with an overcast morning punctuated with a gentle breeze. Perfect conditions for a long walk.
The day's quota of the journey was 30km. By around 11am, were had covered about 15km.
Ahead, somewhere between Kumi and Soroti near Awoja Swamp, Kapir Hill, which features the Kapir Rock Art Site, came into view.
Kapir Rock Art Site, also pictured below, is one of several sites in Teso with ancient rock paintings. Another is at Nyero, about 10km off the main road at Kumi towards Ngora.
A breathtaking view!
Along the way, we are kept well hydrated and monitored by a three-strong team of Elpa Uganda paramedics (Isaac, Lynette and Paul), who are always sat in an ambulance and move alongside us every step of the way.
In the picture below, the team is seen crossing the road to get to the ambulance for a refill.
With the promise of lunch lingering in our minds, we dug deeper in our reserves to clear the long stretch towards Awoja Bridge, a structure that was financed by both the Government of Uganda and the European Union.
When the gregarious paramedic Isaac got to the bridge, he stepped out of the ambulance to walk it with a dollop of swagger plucked out from a scene in Bad Boys II.
Walking the bridge came as a source of relief to the walkers. Pictured is Aaron, Timothy, Linda and Tamara. I (behind the camera) and Simon Peter had gotten there first. We would walk a further 400m to settle down for some roadside lunch.
Our 12th leg pit stop was Rhema High School Mixed Day & Boarding School. Saturday would be rest day. Relief. 324km covered. 143km to go.
After pitching camp at our host school, Rita Nkemba, the founding director of Dwelling Places, the Christian NGO behind the Journey of Hope Walk, talked to the students.
She urged them to stay in school and that each and every one of them should be concerned when their mate is away from school without any known given reason.
Next pit stop: KATAKWI
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.
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