Our pit stop of the day is Baitambogwe in Mayuge district.
JOURNEY OF HOPE AWARENESS AND CHARITY WALK 2019
By Joseph Kizza
DAY FOUR CURRENT LOCATION: MAYUGE
My red T-shirt was drenched in sweat by the time I reached the crest of the hilly stretch of the Jinja-Iganga highway under a generous bath of warm late-morning sunshine.
During my ascent, beads of sweat had slalomed down the contours of my face as the outlines of a massive structure became more defined and bold with every step. Once at the top, the intricately designed facility in need of a lick of paint finally showed its entire face, with the words MULJIBHAI MADHVANI COLLEGE WAIRAKA inscribed on it.
I paused for a moment, pulled out my camera and took angled pictures of this huge structure, before it suddenly hit me that indeed, I was walking through Jinja.
At the time, we had walked for about two hours on our fourth leg of the ongoing 467km Journey of Hope Awareness and Charity Walk from Kampala to Karamoja to voice awareness on the plight of street-connected children. The evening before, we had pitched camp at Mto Moyoni Youth Retreat Centre in Njeru for our third pit stop, and after a good night's sleep and bellyful of breakfast tucked away in our systems, we were bouncy and on the road by 7:30am, ready to get going. An early morning drizzle had attempted to shake us a little, but our spirits could not be damped. From our route map, we were aware that a good 30km stood between us and our next immediate destination: Baitambogwe, Mayuge district.
After ironing our limbs by the roadside, Rita, Kristen Tamara, Linda, Simon Peter, Timothy, Caitline, Aaron and I kicked off Day Four with banter and a hearty laugh here and there. Thankfully, the weather turned kind: Overcast. The perfect weather condition under which to walk. A gentle headwind helped get the flags fluttering as the walking team made for the Source of the Nile Bridge, which was not far off from our starting point.
While the younger lot, with me setting the pace, peeled away to the front, senior walkers Kristen Fry and Dwelling Places co-founder Rita Nkemba were quite equally sprightly close behind.
The emergence into view of the 525m-long Source of the Nile Bridge got the charity walk team excited. Most had never seen it in person. It was a first for me too.
Our experience walking on the bridge was enveloped in an aura of excitement. The view of the water below was equally breathtaking.
"Every day that I walk, I feel more energetic," said Linda.
"My body is definitely getting used to the routine."
Well, yes. It could use come getting used to the routine because there is some more than 350km still to cover across the 18 days that started on Monday. The walk got under way on Monday in Kampala, with the final destination being Napak district in Karamoja sub-region.
Here is what I started this diary off with . . .
The fourth leg of the Journey of Hope Walk 2019 was punctuated with undulating country lanes in Jinja.
And one of the biggest surprises of the day, I must say, was Caitline, the second-youngest walker of this third edition. Having been treated of blisters by the fantastic Elpa Uganda medical team the day before, the 20-year-old returned with guns blazing, raring to conquer the hilly stretches that Jinja boasts.
Dwelling Places, a Christian NGO functioning since 2002, is behind the Journey of Hope #SchoolsNotStreets campaign. Typically, part of their work is to rescue, rehabilitate, reconcile and reintegrate street-connected children.
Along the way to Mayuge, I spotted another facility that does similar work: Mpumudde Vocational Rehabilitation Centre. Going by their motto, theirs involves vulnerable girls.
Meanwhile, with about 80% of our day's portion covered, we stopped by the roadside to have lunch as the wonderful Isaac of Elpa Uganda, provider of the health and emergency services for the 467km journey, soothed aching muscles during the brief timeout.
Resisting child trafficking starts with you. This is the message that Journey of Hope is voicing in a bid to bring to an end child trafficking and unsafe migration.
A day that had started off dull (in the context of weather) morphed into a sweltering one along the way. The lunch break shade provided some much-needed relief.
Isaac checked out Caitline's foot for potential injuries suffered. Soon, she would be given the all-clear.
Simon Peter and Timothy (and I, of course) were the first walkers to make it to our pit stop of the day.
On the left is Simon Peter and on the right Timothy, who admitted he could not have felt more relieved upon seeing the teardrop signalling the end of the walk.
And this would be where the entire team would spend the night.
So, briefly, that's how Thursday went. Friday beckons. We will be back on the road, ready to do this all over again. Everyday, Karamoja is getting closer and closer.
The biennial Journey of Hope campaign, now in its third edition, 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 Three
Journey of Hope Walk 2019 diary: Day Two
Journey of Hope Walk 2019 diary: Day One