The district of Yumbe is a very rural area of Uganda located in the north-western corner of Uganda where South Sudan, Uganda, and the Congo converge. The town of Yumbe and its rural communities function without electricity, running water, or septic tanks. Most people collect their water from streams, use rainwater when it is available, or have access to a shallow well. The water is not clean and they suffer a lot of waterborne illnesses. Hygiene is a large problem in the area with too few latrines, a lack of handwashing stations, and no indoor plumbing for washing.
Most families live in round or square brick houses with round grass roofs. A few families are able to afford a metal roof. They cook outside using wood or charcoal.
Families face many challenges in Yumbe. Many children do not attend school and there is a large percentage of single moms trying to raise their children while earning enough money to feed them. There does not appear to be legal marriages, but only social contracts. Many men have multiple wives. The wives live in separate houses and raise their own children. Often the men do not provide for his individual families. This social dynamic results in many issues and presents many challenges, the largest is adding to the cycle of poverty in the area.
Our trip to Uganda began on January 13th as we arrived in Entebbe, Uganda. The following day we headed north in a van with the intention of arriving in the northern town of Yumbe by nightfall. We made it about 2/3 of the way and then stopped for the night in a town called Pachwach. The next day we traveled the rest of the way the and arrived in Yumbe midday. Our destination was the main office of the NGO called CCEDUC. Innocent Ajaga Buran is the director and he runs a school for children as well as coordinates empowerment and economic training projects for the area’s 25 women’s groups.
As we pulled into the driveway of the main office, 25 local women’s groups, about 300 women, had arrived and sang to us.