Thursday, August 14, 2008

Up Country

While I am still living in the Northern hemisphere, like I have my entire life, in Kampala I live very close to the equator. To be specific, it’s less than an hour’s drive to the equator. Before arriving here I had only crossed the equator twice and both times (one round trip) were in an airplane. I recently took a trip for work to a city called Masaka, about 2 hours from Kampala and in the Southern hemisphere. At the equator, there is a line painted across the road, some cafes and gift shops and various other markers of zero latitude. If you shell out some cash you can see a demonstration of the water-going-down-the-drain phenomenon; there are three basins set up, one in the north, one in the south and one on the equator itself. The price was too high for me but the water is intended to drain clockwise in the north, counter-clockwise in the south and just go straight down on the equator.

While in Masaka I was able to meet with a couple groups of “Popular Opinion Leaders” who go around to communities, raising awareness, mostly about health products like water treatment, birth control and condoms. Our contacts with a couple Ugandan NGOs here had put us in touch with the groups and being keen to not develop brand new networks for our entrepreneurs, when current networks already exist, we are seeking to identify our entrepreneurs from within these current networks. I identified two future entrepreneurs who were both quite excited and enthusiastic about the opportunity they now have.

This trip also allowed me to spend a little more time outside of Kampala, I’ve really only left the city three times since I arrived in Uganda. The Masaka district is quite hilly and green and dotted with small fields of banana trees. I got to visit a village on top of a hill, about a 30 minute drive from Masaka town (the district capital). In every direction there were beautiful views, and the morning sunlight made for great photographs.