Musician and ONE member Rea Garvey recently joined TV chef Tim Mälzer and actress and presenter Minh-Khai Phan-Thi on a trip to Uganda. Part of our German election campaign Ich Schaue Hin, they visited communities where projects to tackle poverty are delivering results. In the first of three blogs, Rea shares his experiences.
Most journeys consist of hiccups, especially when you travel across continents where anything can happen! I started in Frankfurt where I met my co-pilot Tim Mälzer. Tim and I have been friends for some years but we had never undertaken a trip together to change the world! I know when you mention the word WORLD in a sentence it seems to suggest the impossible but in truth all changes big or small can affect the world and I like the idea of every action has a reaction it gives you a sense of meaningful purpose.
We boarded the plane to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and then transferred to another plane and flew to Entebbe inUganda – our final stop. Hiccup: we had to land in Khartoum in Sudan first to unload passengers and refuel, where the plane had a malfunction and we ended up missing our flight to Entebbe and had to spend the night in Ethiopia.
I had been to Ethiopia before and felt the need to be the tour manager of our duo so I organised the new tickets and the hotel for the night. I felt slightly proud of my boy scout activities while Tim went searching for late night refreshments. We were both successful in our efforts and six hours later we were back in the airport boarding a flight to Uganda.
I forgot to mention on my last journey to Ethiopia I saw a man I had only seen at the front of the pack at the Olympics, Haile Gebrselassie. Some eight years later and we end up sitting together again on a runway in Khartoum for some hours! The man is a sporting hero and after our conversation I can say he is also a gentleman.
Back to Uganda. We landed in Entebbe and after collecting Tim’s world travelling luggage we made our way to Kampala. We visited a young group of adults who are running the Muvubuka Agunjuse (Enlightened Youth) centre who told us about their work with other young people.
78% of the population in Uganda is under 30, and HIV/AIDS and a long civil conflict wiped out a whole generation of Ugandans leaving the youth of today to lead the way.
They help other young people to get perspective on life, educate them about the dangers of unprotected sex and help them to think about furthering their education in order to find a career. They also help young people learn how to use the internet and learn about job opportunities.
I was impressed by their positivity and extreme openness and friendliness. I have had a different reception in other countries in Africa where the people I met did not want outside help; pride hindered their struggle to accept foreign support. Here in Uganda the doors are open to those who visit and offer a helping hand. Many people are aware of the help that foreign governments and organisations provide, were glad of it, and wanted more support to remove the obstacles in their way to becoming a strong nation again.
I have never seen so many people smile as I have done in Uganda. We discussed so many difficulties which people face day in day out, like HIV/AIDS, unemployment, lack of education – but always with a view to confronting the issues and finding solutions. The people who sat before me were not beaten, they were excited and driven by the prospect of rising to the challenge and changing the world. My kind of people!
Meeting Haile was a great start, meeting these young people and their vivaciousness was even more exciting. Uganda just turned up the volume and I was beginning to hear their song…day one done!
WE ARE ONE.
Join ONE in the fight against poverty now. It’s worth it.