June 15, 2011: Fruit Trees for the Orphanage Home
Today Helen and I planted eight delicate young fruit trees at the EWAD orphanage home. We set off early from the office, took a taxicar to a nearby nursery and hunted around for promising plants. Dozens of brightly coloured butterflies flittered around the flowers, distracting me from the hunt. We also watched two cows sneaking across the road to the lush beachside of Lake Victoria, their tethers dragging along a feeble broken branch. Eventually we picked out two mango trees, two orange trees, and four papaya trees.
The orphanage home has been under construction for the past year, slowly coming together as funding comes through. It will serve as a living place for up to 50 orphans of EWAD’s Child Sponsorship Programme who have no other place to go during school holidays. The property is set halfway up a small hill and has a beautiful view of Lake Victoria.
After a mango break and calling Shallon to update her on the situation, we decided to borrow a hoe from neighbours. The first person we came across was a small old man with a toothy smile who didn’t speak English. After Helen and I mimed digging with a hoe, the man led us down to a small house where a young worker was building a wall. We made more digging motions, and he questioningly brought out a hoe. Yes! We promised to bring it back shortly.
Back at the orphanage, Helen dug and I planted, and we marked each tree with a little flag so that the keeper would know where to water. The soil was deep red and mostly soft and fertile, but filled with rubbish. We found food wrappers, parts of electronics, and even a half-burned battery.
Unfortunately, Uganda has yet to implement an effective and sustainable waste management program, and garbage is thrown away onto the streets. In the cities, street cleaners sweep away the rubbish every night, but in rural areas, the garbage accumulates until someone burns it away. EWAD recognized this problem and has successfully implemented waste management programs as part of its ICE-COP program, installing metal waste bins, concrete compost areas, and providing education to local residents. Progress is slow but steady, and we later spoke with the keeper about
After just an hour of hard gardening under the late afternoon sun, Helen and I were smeared with dirt and sweat, out of breath, and feeling very accomplished. We locked the gate, returned the hoe, and tried to ignore the amused looks from the people we passed. Dirt shows up dreadfully well on light skin, and I think we looked hilariously bedraggled. Nevertheless, a cold drink at the restaurant and the promise of eight pretty fruit trees was a perfect reward.
Chida Henry, 2011 EWAD Intern