The High Spirited Folks of Nakivale!

This Blog Entry is a part of my Uganda Trip Page. Click Here to read all of the blog entries as well as information about the Nakivale Refugee Settlement, the American Refugee Committee & how to help.

The first few days at Nakivale were spent meeting the various residents and learning about their passions.

There are over 120,000, yes ONE HUNDRED TWENTY THOUSAND refugees at the settlement! 

This is just a small glimpse into a few lives there.

Yes these people are poor. Much more poor than most of you reading this. But that's not what catches your eye when you're there.

Instead, you feel inspired by their passion for their hobbies. You can't help but smile at their high spirits. 

 I hope I convey this through my photos 

ACROBATS

The Nakivale Refugee Settlement Acrobatic Group spends their free time practicing the art of gymnastics and acrobatics.

Their skills took my breath away! It was amazing to see what they could do with so little resources.

They constantly landed on the hard ground with just their bare feet.

balancing two bottles on a knife!

balancing two bottles on a knife!

You can tell by their huge smiles that they LOVE their death-defying hobby. 

And I think they were really proud to perform for their american guests! They were very skilled and had obviously put in many hours of practice.

 

WOMEN EMPOWERMENT

Women in need of a new beginning meet with American Refugee Committee to discover opportunities available to them in the settlement.

Together they learn new gardening skills and work a plot of land to provide nutrition for their families and an income to create their new future. This program has been so successful that men have also joined - looking for a way to also provide for their families.

There was talk of possibly moving the program to a larger space! 

This guy. His real name is Woodrow Wilson. He runs the program at the gardens and gave us a tour. Several days later my friend Amanda and I ran into him during the 5k and ran a good amount of the run with him! His smile is contagious.

This guy. His real name is Woodrow Wilson. He runs the program at the gardens and gave us a tour. Several days later my friend Amanda and I ran into him during the 5k and ran a good amount of the run with him! His smile is contagious.

 

ARTIST COLLECTIVE: OPPORTUNIGEE

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We ate lunch with several of the Opportunigee artists at their compound in the settlement.

We ate lunch with several of the Opportunigee artists at their compound in the settlement.

 This was our typical lunch when we ate at the settlement.  We had it three days in a row. Beans, rice and a delicious peanut sauce. So filling! I really enjoyed it. (Photo by Amanda Paa with Heartbeet Kitchen.)

 This was our typical lunch when we ate at the settlement.  We had it three days in a row. Beans, rice and a delicious peanut sauce. So filling! I really enjoyed it. (Photo by Amanda Paa with Heartbeet Kitchen.)

A painting on canvas by one of the Opportunigee artists

A painting on canvas by one of the Opportunigee artists

One of the leaders of Opprtunigee, Patrick, donated his own land for the artist collective building. They filled soda bottles with cement and made beautifully colorful walls!

One of the leaders of Opprtunigee, Patrick, donated his own land for the artist collective building. They filled soda bottles with cement and made beautifully colorful walls!

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{Art Is Everywhere} When envisioning this trip to Nakivale Refugee Settlement with the American Refugee Committee, I had a hard time picturing the refugees having any interest in a giant rainbow umbrella... I was wrong!


The #shineonyoucrayumbrella was the perfect gift to give the artist collective group called Opportunigee (Opportunity + Refugee = Opportunigee!) I explained the story of the umbrella & how it has traveled the world & been photographed by various artists, all with unique perspectives...

We went from a sort of calm & quiet dialogue - to an animated, art-making frenzy! We brought the brella outside and immediately started creating. It was so great to share the universal language of creativity. 

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Afterwards, we shared many hugs and left two umbrellas at their collective. 


I can't wait to see what they add to the rainbow brella photo collection!

 

BURUNDI DRUM TROUPE

The entire drum troupe is made up of refugees from the country Burundi. 

Such beautiful people - they filled the air with high energy music and laughter. Inhabitants from the settlement crowded around to watch their performance. They lifted the sprits of all who watched.

I was amazed at their stamina. They put on a very high energy performance for over an hour under a strong sun. 

I was also really interested in their outfits. As you have seen in my photos, they live in small dirt homes. How did they manage to have such clean, brightly colored outfits?

I do not know the details but I did ask that question to a few locals. I was told that their clothes are made of a waxy material that repels dirt.

I was also told that they occasionally send their items to a woman who irons them. 

This is one of the best dance and drum troupes I've ever seen!  

In Conclusion  

Having the chance to meet these different groups was a real honor. Their high spirits, energy and passions were such pure examples of the natural need for joy built into all of us. Inspiring indeed.❤️