A Lost Village
Trip Start Mar 02, 2010
5Trip End Jun 25, 2010
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I'm not sure how much coverage the landslide in North East Uganda garnered back home and around the world but I gather it's the case that due to fact that it occured only a few days after the earthquake in Chili that the media's gaze, and as such people's concern, was drawn away from what was a horrific event. Heavy rain fall on slopes that had been weakened by the removal of the trees that bind the soil together to make room for agriculture resulted in a catastrophic landslide, covering a village in thousands of tons of rock and soil
My first port of call was the refugee camp, where the NGO I travelled with, S.O.U.L, distributed maize-flour and beans to the hundreds of children queueing up for food. We managed to have a look around and we saw families of 30 or more squased into tents the size of my bedroom, many without spare clothes, blankets or mattresses. Everywhere you looked there were crying children, signs warning of the spread of cholera and people queueing up for hours for their twice daily ration of ground maize flour. By far the most moving thing I saw was a young albino girl of no more than 5, holding onto her sisters hand whilst she shielded her eyes from the unrelenting sun with a horrifically sunburnt arm. Most people you spoke to seemed upliftingly optimistic about their situation, but whether this will be the case after a year in those conditions is doubtful
I then headed up to the disaster zone itself, 8 km on the back of a motorbike then another 8 walking through steep mountain paths in the blistering heat, which really made you wonder how people found out about it, let alone brought aid up. Nothing on the walk prepared you for the sight of the landslide itself, the worst you saw was the occasional mudslip and we began to wonder if it could really be that bad. Then we came around the side of a mountain and there it was; the entire face of the mountain appeared to have just fallen away. As we walked on the mud we began to realise that we were walking on the bodies of 300 people, buried under ground which was now too hard to dig on. You did come across the occasional local still looking through the rubbish and the dirt with their hands, but after two weeks the chances that they will find anything or anyone are basically non-existent.
Some of the things I saw at the refugee camp and at the scene itself I know will stay with me as long as I live. I feel like as I am here I should be doing anything I can to help the people affected and am planning on returning to the area at some point in the future. If anyone feels in a position to be able to donate some money to help in the relief effort then anything would be greatly appreciated, just follow the link below. Thanks a lot. Love Charlie