After a long silence, we are back online. After the islands, we traveled to Western Uganda and spent some days in Rubirizi. Sadly, our Orange internet stick was not really working there (even phone connections were a mess) so we have been offline for quite some time now.
We are now in Mbarara, making a stop on our way back to Kampala. But first, a quick summary of our last days on the islands:
We visited the villages of Kizi and Kanyongoga to interview some villagers about their energy use and living conditions.
We also went to the only battery charging station on the island, at Bumanji. It is powered by solar panels, and can only charge three batteries at a time. With their current set-up, they are able to charge a battery in 2-3 days.
We also went back to Mwena for some more interviews, including one with the owner of a large pig & chicken farm. He is obviously also in a position to provide the biogas system with a lot of feedstock (!)
We also met Bery Glaser, who runs a sexual health clinic in Mwena. He is providing a home to young girls who have been abused or suffered from sexually transmitted diseases. He told us of the problems of the islands.
The main source of income for many households is fishing. This has serious implications for the social issues on the islands. Fishermen travel to where the fish is, so often end up moving around and have multiple partners. This drastically increases the occurence of sexually transmitted diseases, and most importantly HIV. Fishermen who drown out on the lake, combined with a high HIV infection rate have also led to a large number of orphans. These children who end up with no real mother or father to take care of them are often abused or forced into prostitution. Bery has set up a place they can call home, and helps them to recover in all senses of the word.
This post ends on this slightly sad note, but it was very important for us to understand the everyday reality that people here live with. Bery has given them a wonderful home, and it gives us hope to see people making a difference in these communities.