Julia Kellie writes:
I have just spent 5 weeks in a village high up on the slopes of Lake Bunyonyi. It is a community village/orphanage which is striving to be self-sufficient. Its location is not only it’s highlight, but it’s downfall. While it is on the mainland, it is a boat ride across from the jetty and a hike up the hill to get there, so nobody knows it exists.
My partner and I visited the village for an afternoon on an overland trip eighteen months ago, and became inspired not only to sponsor a child to go to school, but to help with the problem of collecting water – a job which usually falls to the children, and for those living at the highest point this can be a two hour round-trip.
We cycled 4000km across Europe, from the Atlantic coast to the Black Sea, and raised £5000. We wanted to take the money out there ourselves, to help the village and get to know the people.
We’ve had a fantastic time there. We were the first foreigners to ever stay, so it took a while for the locals to get used to having us there. There is no running water or electricity, but Edison, the director is aiming to create a place where visitors can come and stay/volunteer on a donation-only basis.
Whilst there we fitted guttering and storage tanks, and helped to finish the project for visitors – 3 accommodation huts (two beds in each and mosquito nets), a dinning area and teachers accommodation. The kitchen hut was still being finished when we left, but we had 3 delicious meals a day cooked by one of the villagers.
It is a wonderful place to stay, and a great opportunity for travellers to see how the “other half” live. It is also a great budget option for those willing to put the effort into getting to an unknown destination and who want to give something back to the people of Lake Bunyonyi.
It is possible to do a half day tour to the village, which would include the boat trip across, a hike to the top of the hill where the best panoramic views of Lake Bunyonyi can be found, a traditional song and dance from the children and a delicious crayfish lunch (a speciality of the lake).
Now that they have the accommodation finished, staying there is also a possibility. It is basic, but comfortable – a round hut with two beds and mosquito nets. Food would be provided.
There is no fixed charge for anything, the village is working on a donation-only basis. There is no running water or electricity, but a few solar lights have been installed and a gravity fed shower was being constructed when we left.
Due to the lack of funds and electricity, running a website is impossible right now. My blog www.pedalondreckly.blogspot.com has links to their website/facebook page, shows the most recent work, and has a link to the Gofundme site if anyone wanted to make donations.
The only other way to contact the community to arrange anything or donate directly, is to contact the village director – Edison Twebaze. His number is: +256 773 478 525.