I’ve been keeping a little picture blog of my most recent trip to Africa. I had every intention of posting a couple of pictures from our trip each day, however the internet in Africa can be described as spotty at best.
It was a great trip. I went with a group of five other people from Assist International. We traveled all over the country of Uganda, almost made it into South Sudan, and finished with a couple days in Kenya. Driving all around eastern Africa was a large part of our trip. We logged some heavy hours in that van. She broke down on us a couple of times, but thanks to some African ingenuity, we were always able to get the old girl back up and running. We visited some extraordinary places and saw some pretty incredible things.
The first day we headed out to an isolated village named Isalo. When the locals give directions to Isalo, they literally tell you to go “beyond the end of the road.”
We played an epic game of soccer with the local kids. I like to think we had a lot of heart, but in the end we were no match for the local talent. My buddy Matt Galas did put one in the net though. Impressive showing from the big man.
Afterwards, we tried to teach them some American football… it got ugly fast.
Then we checked out some of the farmers who have been utilizing the Project 41 water pumps for irrigation. Even got out into their canoes again. Matt Galas and I were taking on some serious water. These boats aren’t built for giants like us.
On the way back from Isalo we were able to stop by the home that doubles as the headquarters for Women First, an NGO that supports women in Uganda by teaching them skills and vocational training.
The kids who live at Women First are top notch. Last time I was in town we worked on the fundamentals of American football and I promised them some Jets gear. So I had to deliver…
As it turns out, they weren’t the only Jets fans in Uganda… more on that later.
The next day we set out to visit the AOET orphanage and school in the heart of Jinja, Uganda.
Assist International has played a pivotal role in the creation of this orphanage, building 18 of the 20 homes as well as the majority of school buildings.
The founder of AOET, Sam Tushabi is a pretty cool dude. He started this orphanage after witnessing a little girl picking through the garbage looking for something to eat 15 years ago. Today it provides homes and schooling for over 500 children.
The kids at the elementary school had a nice little song and dance ready for us when we arrived. I have to say, I haven’t met an African without rhythm. I think my dancing skills will be vastly improved after learning a few tricks from my Ugandan friends… watch out NYC.
My brother, Matt Sudfeld, my college roommate, Matt Galas, and I have committed to building an outdoor basketball court at this location on the property. We’re gonna head back next year and have a tournament. NCAA tournament bracket style. I might need to recruit some true basketball players to join us. Sam’s talking a big game for his kids.
If anyone would like to know how to get involved with our Sports Complex project at the AOET Orphanage, email Matt Sudfeld
( firstname.lastname@example.org )
The next day we headed for Gulu, Uganda.
Had to cross the Nile River on our way out there.
After a six hour drive on one of the worst roads you can imagine, (Think of being on the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland for 6 hours) we made it to our first stop in Gulu. Assist International has built several homes in an Orphan village there, and the family that runs the village have been good friends with the organization for a long time.
That’s where I met my main man Dan, founder of the International Lifeline Fund. They have been doing some great stuff in Africa for over 10 years.
Dan is what you would call a DIE HARD Jets Fan. This dude schedules his trips to Africa around Jets games. I’m talking fanatical. So as you can imagine, we got along extremely well. I’m telling you, Dan snuck out for 10 minutes and we go to find him teaching the orphan kids J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets.
We loaded back up into the old bus and headed out on our way to Atiak. Only 30 minutes from the border of South Sudan, Atiak was ravaged by war and was a stronghold for Joseph Kony and the Lords Resistance Army (LRA).
It was here that we met Sister Rosemary.
Sister Rosemary was named one of Time Magazines 100 most influential people for her work helping girls scarred by the LRA.
An excerpt from the Time Magizine article written about her by Forrest Whitaker;
“For girls who were forcibly enlisted as child soldiers, Sister Rosemary has the power to rekindle a bright light in eyes long gone blank. For women with unwanted children born out of conflict, she allows them to become loving mothers at last.
The traumas she heals are unfathomable, but the reach of her love is boundless.” rosemary-nyirumbe-2014-time-100
She is an incredible person, and also a pretty solid dancer. (once again… have yet to meet an African without rhythm)
We were fortunate enough to be able to hang out with many of the children of the mothers she has helped to rescue.
It was a moving experience to say the least.
The final leg of our journey was a safari in the Kenyan Serengeti.
It was a pretty cool way to end our African Adventure.