Top banana: village life beyond safari

After 24 hours in Murchison Falls in the north west of Uganda where tourists hang cameras worth thousands of dollars around their necks and hurry from one wildlife view point to the next in four by four jeeps, it was refreshing to stop on the other side of the park and meet the unassuming leader of the Boomu women’s community campsite who showed me how the villagers live ‘on the wrong side’ of the gate.

While the campsite has the basic amenities, the village itself has no running water or sanitation, and no electricity apart from solar afforded by the lucky few. And while dollar notes change hands with practised ease inside the park boundary, there is little use for cash on the other side. The villagers eat what grows around them, which is bananas and maize.

p1000186Ednah, however, is full of ideas and has a quiet strength that allows her to support a clutch of teenage orphans who help her at the campsite. She also uses some of the proceeds to put a handful of teenagers through secondary school while her tireless hard work put her own daughter through university.

Staying at Boomu means helping the local community by sourcing local products and enjoying local culture. Local children dance and sing for guests, a performance which is paid for with school materials. This is Uganda just one step beyond the safari.