I thoroughly enjoyed our three days visiting with Edwin's friends and relatives on his mom's side. Everyone Edwin is associated with confirmed all my thoughts and impressions about the country, Rwanda, the people of Uganda, and Edwin's life in general. Jolly's friends and family are all about love!
The first time I met Edwin, I was impressed with him. He has a gentle, sweet face and a genuinely calm, accepting disposition. I know this young man is going to do amazing things in his life. I can't wait to witness all he will accomplish for people and animals. He loves both humans and animals. He has dedicated his life to saving both. For me, that was absolutely evident when I learned how he not only saved the gorillas from being poached, but also was thoughtful enough to consider the plight of the poachers whose lives he has changed. The Gorilla Guardian Village was Edwin's means of honoring and enriching the lives of both the gorillas and the poachers.
Below are several photos Edwin took while we were in Uganda. He's a far better photographer than I am. Too, unlike my camera, Edwin has a "serious" camera.
One of the couples who took care of Jolly's five children while she was away visiting ill relatives or selling her homemade beer. I was taken back when the older gentleman rubbed Edwin's head as he walked into the room. Edwin had not visited them for many years. The back of his head was facing the entrance, yet, he was instantly recognized by his older friend. Such a sweet couple.
Karuhoko, Jolly's best friend. She also watched over Edwin and his siblings while Jolly was away. Karuhoko may be a tiny lady, but she's a powerhouse of a person. Her love for Edwin was abundantly evident. I loved this bond Karuhoko and Edwin have. The two children are two of the children who visited to see the white woman (me) visiting their small hamlet hidden back off the main road and down the red clay road in a wooded area.
This is the 94 year-old woman I mentioned. she was sitting on the ground to the right of the open door. When she sat down then effortlessly jumped up, I thought, Sure am glad I'm sitting in a chair. If I had to get up off of the ground, I would surely embarrass myself! Later, Edwin told me it was her older son we nearly ran into who was obviously intoxicated and walking down the road when we drove toward the hamlet. Edwin knows her son and explained that he used to be a respected, industrious man. Edwin has no idea what drove him to become an alcoholic as he makes life hard on his 94 year-old mom's life.
Uncle Geofrey and Aunt Jemima Murari celebrated their fiftieth anniversary while we were in Uganda. We attended the lavish celebration on their front lawn and under a huge tent. They are a very sweet couple. When we visited them the following day, I mentioned that Bob and I will celebrate our 50th in two years, Jemima and I exchanged comments and laughter at how much work goes into keeping a marriage together for fifty years. We also agreed on how special such a marriage is when the two people are still best of friends.
One of the many photos Edwin took the day prior of the anniversary celebration. Look at Jemima's dress! Geofrey is assisting his wife and best friend maneuver the ground with the long gown as they entered the huge tent and made their way to the stage they would sit on.
Edwin and I were seated off to the right side where table and chairs were set up for guests. I thoroughly enjoyed our vantage point as I was able to see all the incredibly beautiful and colorful outfits the women wore. Many of the women were dressed in colorful tribal type gowns. I have been searching the web to find a colorful, tribal dress. I would love to wear it to Edwin's ceremony when he is handed his doctorate in June.
This is a photo of the side of the first structure Edwin's immediate family lived in once the moved from the Ugandan refugee camp Jolly, her children and several relatives traveled to during the 1974 genocide in their former home in Rwanda. There's still a lot of poverty in both Rwanda and Uganda.
The day after the anniversary celebration, we sat under a huge shade tree talking to Edwin's godfather, Christopher, sitting with his back to the shade tree and Edwin's two cousins and childhood friends Rogers (orange shirt) and Alex (blue shirt and hat). It was during this conversation I learned of how horrendous the seven years Idi Amin's reign of terror with which he ruled Uganda.
There is a second house similar to the one in the background which Christopher owns. Beyond the tall trees and hedges in the background where the silver SUV is parked is the "bush," where Christopher and his family hid that terrifying night they feared would be their last.
These strangely interesting looking birds were standing in the rain on Uncle and Aunt Murari's front lawn the day after their anniversary celebration. We had to take photos. I commented that they looked like a bunch of angry old men. There were at least twenty of them standing on the lawn.
I love this photo of Christopher and his beautiful niece, Angel. This precocious little girl has her uncle wrapped around her finger. Sweet and lovely photo.
Alex, his new wife, Jennifer (right) and Christopher's oldest daughter, Brianna Tumwine (left).
Photo of the cows being milked by hand. You can see the white pail behind the back legs of the all black cow and her small calf who is suckling her mom. I thought of all my vegan friends back home and knew they would love this photo. I sure do!
A nice photo with wonderful people. The surrounding scenery is beautiful as well. Left to right: Anna (Christopher's sister), Alex, Brianna Tumwine (Christopher's oldest daughter), Christopher, Jennifer, me and Edwin. In front row is Angel (Christopher's niece). I very much enjoyed my time with all of them. They had come from the Uganda capital, Kampala for the anniversary celebration. As we left, they also left to go back home.
I loved Edwin's red shirt. It read, "
A Son's First Hero
A Daughter's first love
Part of Edwin's quest to write his autobiography, I believe, is his quest to learn who his father was.
The outside of one of the school buildings where Edwin and his siblings attended grade school when they lived in Uganda. The tire rim (see white arrow) serves as a school bell. To make it ring a rock is used to bang on the metal.
A blackboard in one of the classrooms. The lesson is a grography one. I was impressed with the information they teach children. In the U.S. geography is no longer taught for geography sake and, having had geography classes when I was in grade school, I feel it's sad because, to this day, I remember much of the geography I was taught. One of the lessons reads: "A dead volcano is the one that's stopped erupting and will never erupt again." I challenge anyone to ask a child who attends school in the U.S. to give the definition of a dead volcano. I also challenge anyone to ask an adult the same thing. Thinking of Jay Leno's Tonight show, this would have been a great question to ask on his J-Walking segment.
Signs of encouragement are tacked up all over the school grounds as children are reminded of how important school and knowledge is. "KNOWLEDGE IS POWER," is what this sign reads.
As Edwin was taking photos of the once wide, but now narrow river he and his siblings would fetch water from when they were children, this is the group of children that came over to look in my window. The group had grown as Edwin walked back to the car. Little Romeo is up front looking in.
This is a common scene in both Rwanda and Uganda. People walk everywhere. School just let out and these are just a few of the constant stream of children walking home on the opposite side of the street. Edwin took this photo as he was about to get back into the car. This group stopped and posed.