Day 1: The Road to Mbale

After a long 24 hours of airports and planes, Mike and I finally made it through customs at the Entebbe Airport, where we were greeted by Selly, our driver, and were transported to the Hotel Fairway in Kampala.  The drive took just under an hour and was quite exciting as we passed through the downtown area of Kampala and saw a bit of the lively night life.  From what I could tell, the people were very dressed up and many women happened to be wearing red.  Our cab driver began describing a special day for husbands and wives, a holiday for people in who are in love.  I felt silly then, of course, because it hadn’t occurred to me all day that the date was Feb 14!

The Fairview hotel was comfortable, and it was pretty easy to fall asleep.  Monday morning came very quickly, when we were greeted by Francis Ssennyonjo, a Partners Worldwide in-country contact who so kindly helped arrange all of our accommodations and transportation.  After picking up a few items as well as one more passenger, we were headed to Mbale!  Joining us for the trip was Innocent, an Agriculture University student from Kampala and a team member of the Uganda Amaranth Project.  We were able to learn a few things about the project and the culture from Innocent during the drive; I have a feeling that I’ll be glad more than once or twice to have him as a resource while we’re here.

The four-hour drive was a pretty straight shot.  There is only one paved road that goes from Kampala to Mbale; I hadn’t even been expecting so much.  On a road trafficked by public busses and mopeds, we passed through many, many towns that all resembled each other.  We saw strands of fruit stands and textile shops; microfinance institutions that serve as banks to the poor; fields and fields of sugar cane and other crops; women carrying baskets of bananas (among other things) on their heads; and uniformed children playing ball in the schoolyards.  Right before lunch, we crossed over the Nile River, and Francis mentioned that we were only a few miles away from its source (and some beautiful waterfalls)!  I hope we have a chance to go to these falls on the way back to the capital.

We finally made it to Mbale and saw that the Mt. Elgon Hotel is within walking distance of the town.  I could not believe my eyes when we got out of the car.  The hotel grounds are beautiful, and the rooms are nicer than I pictured – far different from my hammock and bucket bath lodging just two weeks ago in Panama!  I almost feel sinful for staying in such nice accommodations.. We were greeted by Rich Leep of Grand Rapids/CNFA in the lobby, and he joined the rest of us for dinner down the road – fresh tilapia!

After being in the country for about 24 hours, I am anxious to begin work tomorrow.  We have plans to be introduced to the town of Mbale as well as a few facets of the Uganda Amaranth Project.  I feel that I’ll have a much clearer picture of what the next two weeks might look like and what kinds of conversations we might be able to have with local people once we’ve spent a day in town.

Pictures to come later!

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4 Comments on “Day 1: The Road to Mbale”

  1. Sounds fantastic, enjoy the experience and remember that you are in our prayers. God’s speed and protection.

    In His mighty grip,
    Marty Rozboril

  2. Michele Triscik Says:


    Can’t wait to see more pictures!!! What an amazing opportunity!!!


  3. Jeanine LaBelle Says:

    Ashley, what a great adventure for you and Mike. I will keep you both in my prayers and look forward to the stories you will post day to day. Best of luck and God’s blessings to you both. The LaBelles

  4. Ingrid Luse Says:

    How exciting! You are so special to us. We love you. Stay safe.

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