Recently our Gulu staff decided that in order for us to better understand our communities, it would be a good idea to spend a day in their shoes. We decided to do just that, and set aside a day to go out to one of our communities and make the walk that they do from home to the closest trading center when they are without transportation.
We called it our “Impact Walk” and decided to do this first one in Abwoch Parish in Ongako Sub County. We started from the trading center since it’s closest to Gulu, where we were coming from, and set off around 11am. We walked about a 20:00 minute mile pace and it took us an hour to reach this group’s Chairperson’s home. Needless to say, we were tired by the time we reached there, and the hot Northern Ugandan sun definitely didn’t help.
However, we had an excellent surprise along the way of running into one of our program participants who was riding his bike to the market. It was awesome to see its usage in action!
Upon reaching the Chairperson’s home, we found his wife there who was impressed, and a bit surprised, that we had done this walk. She, from much experience, knows exactly how tiresome that trek can be. Jokingly, she said that next we should fetch water to really understand the burden of carrying something while also making this journey. In an effort to get the full experience, we agreed. Luckily, the closest borehole is only a 15 minute walk from her house, because the jerrycans they use to fill with water are extremely heavy when they are full. We even got a little lesson on carrying them on our heads, and that is even more of a challenge. While we were exhausted by this point, it was crucial to remember that people in these communities without bicycles have to carry multiple jerrycans per day and do the vast amount of walking without hesitating.
After our water excursion, it was time to head back in the afternoon heat. An hour later, we were relieved to be back at the trading center and very aware of how tiresome the two hour roundtrip journey is, including covering six miles and taking 14,000 steps!
This experience lead us to ask — what would you do with an extra 2 hours in your day? Our program participants finally get to realistically ask themselves that question because their bicycles eliminate huge portions of the time and energy factors of their daily routine. For example, instead of walking to the nearest borehole and physically carrying two jerrycans, they can bike there and transport four or more home on their bike. Opening up their days to other activities means a better standard of living and a happier, more productive household.