Miles and miles of sandy, rocky roads. Bumpy and unlivable. Miles and miles of roads through green patches of fresh grass fueled by the first April rains. Alive and hopeful.
Just a few miles. You don’t have to drive that far to see the differences. Both types are present. Areas with water. Areas without water. I’ve seen both in the past two days. With one big difference.
In one of the areas live almost a 100.000 South Sudanese refugees. In the other I watched elephants, antelopes, big fat pumba’s and countless beautiful birds.
Refugee policies in Uganda are among one of the best in the world. Refugees have access to land, they can work and are generally well received. But that just seems to be the outside. Because the refugee settlements aren’t the most favourable living conditions to say the least. I counted about 20 trucks of water coming in an out from one the base camps in Rhino yesterday. But I am sure that’s by far not enough to supply the communities with the water that is needed. I visited a school of which a third of the kids is refugee, host communities are also included in the primary schools. Youth with an agricultural background and interest showed us around on various demonstration plots and gardens as part of the livelihoods project. It felt so mixed. Plastic tents and little huts. Temporary shelters. But also life as normal. Getting water, starting a garden. Finding ways to survive.
Now I am leaving again. Back to Kampala. Along the way, around the golden hour, we passed by the Nile. Some strong elephants greeted us. A little detour brought us to so many of the most rare and beautiful animals. Like a little green paradise, just of the road where there is plenty of water.
Something that seems so hidden in many places, yet it’s always there. The question is whether you want to see it.