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I have finally finished editing all my photographs from Africa, and this is the last batch!

So, on Sunday, July 20th, I left Uganda and headed over to Nairobi. When I was there, I photographed an orphanage called Rehema Home. While I was there for 2.5 days, I will put all the photographs into a single post. It was an awesome few days. I can’t even really say much because I can’t type all that I remember – but it was a lot different from Uganda, that’s for sure. This orphanage is also so different – and probably the best one I saw the entire time I was in Africa. The children there described it as a huge “family.” They were truly brothers and sisters, and I was so impressed at how they took care of each other. I was truly blessed to witness such a great thing. I won’t say any more – I’ll just let the photos do the talking!

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Saturday, July 19th

On the 19th,after a day and a half in Mweya, we packed up early in the morning and started a long, 8-hour drive back to Entebbe. A few group portraits in front of the elephant statue (it’s actually a real elephant, from what I was told), and then we were on our way. Mweya was awesome, and I hope to return there some day with my children!

After a long drive, we arrived at the airport. I took a few photos while we were unloading everyone’s baggage,and then I went in search of my luggage while they all checked in. I was told it wasn’t in the computer system. It wasn’t in the ledger. But I knew that my bag was there. After going through all the hoops, I finally got permission to get a special security pass that allowed me into the baggage area so I could look for my bag. I looked in one area – not there. Then I looked in another room, and saw it almost instantly. It was hilarious. Not in the system, my butt! When I went to sign for it, I was helped out by the gentleman with whom I had originally filed my “missing baggage” claim with. He remembered me, and told me that he had checked my itinerary that morning, and had remembered that I was flying out the next day. He said that if I had not shown up for my flight, he was going to make sure my bag went back to NY for me. In America, I would probably be very skeptical of the truth of that statement, but not here. I believed him completely.

So I went back to the hotel after all of this, and got ready to fly to Kenya on the 20th!

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Thursday we spent about half the day travelling to Mweya Lodge for a day and a half of safari. I’m going to condense all my photographs from these 3 days into one post, so they’ll be a lot.

After arriving in Mweya, we went on a boat tour that afternoon. It was probably the most awesome thing. Tons and tons of elephants (literally!) were on the shore of the river, but we also got to see water buffalo, crocodiles, hippos, eagles, and many other different kinds of wildlife I’ve only ever ready about. Most of the photos speak for themselves. Then we went for a game drive that evening. Saw lots of wildlife, but there were 2 awesome things that bear mentioning: The first is that I need to say that being charged by and angry momma elephant is awesome. The adrenaline kick is pretty cool. And, being a photographer, I just kept my finger on the trigger and trusted my driver to do his job, which he did fantastically! The second is the most terrifying sight – a Hippo out of the water. You can see the photo below -we stared at each other for some time, and I felt a slow terror as I took it’s pictures. I know that they are the most violent and territorial creatures around, and he looked very unhappy to find us in his way. But he just stood there, so we stopped and watched him for a while. The lighting was horrible, so the photograph is grainy and dark, but that’s okay – it’s just proof of an encounter that I had that I will never forget.

On the 18th we woke up extra early and went out for a 6:00am game drive. We saw lots of bush bucks, water bucks, more elephants,and more birds. Oh,and more elephants! Sunrise was particularly beautiful as well, and I got some very nice photographs. I kinda wish I would have been able to stop some more and spend more time on some landscapes, but I just had to learn how to take pictures from a moving vehicle. We also met a whole troop of baboons; they are hilarious and odd creatures. Then, after a lunch break, we went for another evening game drive – our last. It was very pretty, and we saw a ton more wildlife. One of the trucks in our convoy even saw a Jaguar! We got in around 7:30, and drove right past the sign that stated that they gates would shut at 7:00. Oops. Well,they let us in anyway!

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Wednesday, July 16th

On the 16th, we packed up all our stuff and left Hoima for good. It was a strange feeling – because I had been late in getting to Uganda, I really felt like it was too soon; I felt like I had so much more to do! But even if I had gotten there on time, I know I would have felt the same. But today held what would end up being one of the most awesome and emotional experiences for me: The dedication of a well for an orphanage and school. So we drove off to this small school and orphanage about 35 minutes outside of Hoima.

They were ready for us, and had quite a celebration for us. It was quite a treat! Then the pastor and headmaster told us how the school had been started, and how they found that there were many orphans in the area with no one to take care of them. So they started an orphanage, too! It was actually really hard to see – the school and the orphanage had mud floors. The conditions were not what I would have ever expected before I got to Uganda. In fact, as an American, I would be horrified to see children living like this. But after a short while in rural Uganda, I realized how blessed these children were – it wasn’t glitzy,and it didn’t even have concrete floors, but they had someone who loved them and was doing their best to take care of them. And now they had a well that would give them clean water. Those blessing make the things I have here in America pale in comparison. It made me feel very mixed up inside – sad and depressed and yet also happy for them. It’s really hard to even describe it, so I guess I’ll just leave it at that.

After that we headed off to Kyenjojo to visit another orphanage, run by a young American woman, Alyssa, and her Ugandan husband. It was like the complete opposite of what we had seen in the morning. We spent most of the afternoon putting together a swingset/jungle gym for the kids. I actually put my camera down and started building for the first time – it was rather refreshing.

After that, we said our goodbyes and headed out for the last portion of our journey.

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Tuesday, July 15th

On July 15th,we went back to the farm and ran a free medical clinic for the workers of the farm. One very large part of this was the distribution of reading glasses. We had a very large number of reading glasses that had been donated to us, and had traveled across the ocean in several suitcases! We also brought a kit that used TIG welding wire and a jig to let someone make reading glasses right there. It was pretty cool to watch that process, and watch how Matt and Graham taught themselves, and then taught others how to use the jig.

Azure Medical Clinic also brought some people up, and with members of our team and theirs, we did some basic medical screen, immunizations, and other medical care. The line was long – people don’t have access to much medical help there, and something like this was extremely special. (It’s amazing how blessed I am in America, and I don’t think about it at all.)

It was an awesome and hot day, and it was great to see another example of how CEED and Ugandan Gold are working to raise the standard of living and bless the people in this area.

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Monday, July 14th

On Monday, July 14th, I spent the day at a water well drilling site. It was a very hot and very long day, but was great to see the work that is being done to help people have access to clean water through the work of Ugandan Gold Coffee and CEED. I had a ton of equipment troubles, as my camera began acting up about halfway through the day. It would stop recording video on its own, then start again, then stop again, then start again, over and over. I let the camera rest for a while towards the end of the day and used my secondary camera, and it seemed to do a little better after a bit of a rest. But I still got some great photographs, and a lot of great video, too.

It’s very stressful trying to be a videographer AND still photographer at the same time. I feel like both my goals suffered because I was trying to do too much. It also kept me from using my shoulder rig for video, because that’s not helpful for shooting stills – it keeps me from being able to do vertical shots. So I loaded up my camera with all the microphones and everything and shot hand-held the whole time, which is exhausting. The camera weighs a ton with the audio recorder AND the shotgun microphone AND the rear microphones all attached to it. But I think I did ok- I guess we’ll see once I get the videos processed – but I’m pretty happy with the stills from the day. I know I could have done better if I had just been focused on just still photography, but that’s not what Ugandan Gold needs! Well, it’s good to always keep learning and keep staying flexible!

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Adding New Photographs!

I’ve been editing photos all week- and have added some new photographs to the already existing posts. So go ahead back to those old posts if you want to see some new pictures. And I’ll have some new posts pretty soon!

I’m Home!!!

And I have been for several days! I’m so sorry that I haven’t posted since then – it’s been a whirl-wind since I got home. So much editing to do! Anyway, I will be posting more photos – hopefully today I’ll get a lot more photos up on the site. I’ve been editing a lot the last few days, so I’ve got a good set of pictures ready to go.

So, thanks for following along. I wish I had more time while I was there to keep updating things – but lack of regular internet access and lack of time (and sleep) kept me from being consistent…

Anyway, more posts to follow!

Update: Sunday, July 13th, 2014

Today was a much lower-key day for us. First we traveled out to the church that many of the farm workers and their families go to. When we got there, we were able to sit right up front.But very quickly, the building filled as people walked in to the service. A nice, heavy Ugandan rain fell as we worshiped with an unknown number of Ugandans. But I would guess over 150. It was standing room only, basically. It was a very neat experience, and I was just in love with the singing. In fact,today was a special day where the service was presented to the congregation and run by the women. So we got an extra special treat!

After the service, we gathered outside and played with the children and talked for a while.Then we got back in the trucks and went back to the food farm for those who hadn’t seen it yesterday.

After that we went back home to the hotel. I went out with Les Gutzwiller and a new friend, Herbert, and bought a few more clothes. $4 for a pair of jeans and $4 for a nice button down shirt. I’m sure I would have paid 2x that if I hadn’t had Herbert with me.

After a quick stop to the market, I went back and struggled to get onto the Internet so I could start making these posts. Another new friend, Joseph, has loaned me his USB hotspot, and it ended up being my laptop that was conflicting with the Ugandan service provider’s application. But I figured out what application was causing the problem and deleted it. So… Here we are!

Here are the pics for the day:

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Update: Saturday, July 12, 2014

Yesterday we visited the Coffee Farm and presented the workers with a special new stove that promises to help the workers use about 1/2 the firewood and cook in half the time. We started with a demonstration where we cooked a large pot of rice for everyone, and it only took 45 minutes. That might seem like a long time for us in the United States, but for them, it’s about 1/4 the time spent at a fire. Usually, to feed a family, it takes about 3 hours to heat up enough food. This is actually causing serious problem because it is causing the locals to devastate their local forests. Now they are having trouble even finding good firewood, and there aren’t many re-forestation programs that are active at the time. This is a really great new project that is connected with Ugandan Gold Coffee, through it’s parent organization, CEED.

After this, we were able to take a tour of the coffee farm. We looked at the different beans that they have, and talked about the ecology of the region. The beans are not really in season right now, so we weren’t able to see the workers picking, washing, or drying any of the beans, but we were given a great overview of the farm and how it works.

After that we went over to the food farm, a new experiment for CEED, in which they are trying to educate local farmers by showing them how simple farming methods, such as proper fertilization and crop rotation, can help them get better yield and encourage their soil to stay rich and fertile for far longer. At this time, they have soybeans, peanuts, and maize corn growing on their property. It also has an absolutely spectacular view of the valley and hills around it!

Here are some pictures from the day: Enjoy!

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