Police, the “guard” dog at the Kasiisi Farm.
The first and most striking church service that Clara and I visited. After three hours of sermons and choir song on a Saturday morning (it’s a Seventh Day Adventist church), we were treated to a gorgeous baptism ceremony. New members of the faith processed down the stairway to be cleansed, welcomed, and wrapped in blankets to dry as the congregation looked on and sang praise songs.
Clara and I at the Top of the World lookout on September 10th, roughly two weeks after I got there. Note the length of the hair.
A nice image from a nondescript morning routine sometime in late September.
A rolex! These are made on the street all throughout the western region, consisting of an onion/tomato omelette wrapped up in a chapati streetbread. Richard’s were an especially lovely way to start the day.
A riparian valley in the foothills of the Rwenzori mountains. Taken on a hike to local hot springs.
A request from my brother, the main drag of Fort Portal town as viewed from the bank parking lot.
ENSWA. These flying termites fill the skies on rainy evenings in October. From my understanding, the rain prompts both males and females from different colonies to take to the air, mingle endlessly, drop their wings, mate, and start new colonies somewhere underground the ground. The floodlights in our backyard often led them astray.
Richard and I picked up a baking hobby to fill our Saturday afternoons. These peanut butter blossoms came out particularly lovely!
Taken by holding my phone up to one lens of a pair of binoculars. While visiting the chimp research station to work on my boss’s computer in October, we spotted a family of chimps that had just finished a hunt! That’s an unlucky red colobus monkey being torn apart by the big male and fed to (presumably) his offspring.
Just a regular walk home from the office one day. There’s a pot of gold to be found somewhere out in that tea field.
One of Richard’s and my more successful Saturday baking attempts.
The things you’ll do for good internet reception some days…
Another casual walk home from the office. This spot was perhaps the most consistently beautiful one I saw on a daily basis.
Kasiisi’s farm manager at the time explains the design of a Kenyan top-bar beehive to a cohort of Kasiisi Primary School students and student volunteers from Ashinaga.
Some playful Kasiisi students at the end of our day with the volunteers from Ashinaga.
Rafting down the Nile in November, maybe the most extreme sport I’ve ever taken on. Our guide Tim from South Sudan was an absolute champ and made sure we only flipped the raft in three of the seven rapids. When you see the force of the water you’re heading into every neuron in your brain screams that it’s no place for you to be, and yet the raft guides treat it as another day on the job. I would recommend this experience to future visitors of Uganda, but a hydroelectric dam flooded the region and put an end to all rafting less than a month ago. Picture provided by Nile River Explorers.
Myself with some other PiAf fellows at the start of a boda tour around Kampala city. Would highly recommend doing it yourself, Walter’s Boda Tours is the company you want. No, we didn’t actually drive the bikes ourselves.
Good to know, Udita.
The Bahá’í temple for the continent of Africa, found just north of Kampala. This mish-mash interfaith “religion” is pretty fascinating, I’d recommend reading up on Bahá’í online if you’re not familiar with it.
A quadrant of Kampala as seen from atop the National Gaddafi Mosque.
November in the Western Region is grasshopper season! People love ’em… I couldn’t finish the bag.
A dramatic soccer pitch way out by Komyamperre Primary School.
Pushing a bicycle with two machetes and two jerrycans while wearing a sport coat, trousers and gum boots – as far as I’m concerned, the most Ugandan thing ever.
To celebrate the graduation of the 4-year-olds from nursery school, the all-day ceremonies included a couple hours when all students and parents marched two miles down the road and back with a marching band! Here I’m pictured with my buddy Charles aka Malouda, a research assistant at a nearby chimp field station and best soccer player in Kasiisi.
Spotted while doing monitoring and eval for one of our programs on a Saturday morning – this jovial folks are peeling small bananas en masse to make a beverage that definitely isn’t alcoholic.
Another one from the walk to work, some little piggies! In Rutooro (I think) – “empunu obutito”
This was my bedroom for the whole wonderful year! I guess on this morning I decided it looked particularly charming.
It was pretty strange being home for the holidays, I haven’t faced so severe a Chicago Winter in years. I forgot that “winter Zach” was a person, and happily captured this moment with madre before heading out to some dinner or something.
From my cousins’ house outside of Boston on Christmas Eve. I don’t think I will ever be as comfortable as Munchkin is in this moment here.
Happy birthday! Clara and Richard both turned 24 in January, and they celebrated by slaughtering and cooking up two chickens from the Kasiisi Farm. Richard had done it dozens of times before. Clara’s a vegetarian.
A dramatic shot from nearby Nyabweya. In January, my job responsibilities briefly changed to being the foreman/money man for the construction of a well down the road from Nyabweya Primary School. The object being lifted is the top arm of our manual borehole drill, which the team used over the course of a week to dig a 45-foot hole. You can check out this particular design at VillageDrill.com
The Headteacher of the school has to roll in style, right? I *love* the look of this pickup.
From a small community called Kazingo along the banks of the Mpanga River. The men here harvest and crush stones for use in construction, and amazed me with their physical prowess. With a few of those hand hammers they produced four wheelbarrows of extra-small gravel in less than 24 hours.
The drill team unknowingly invoke the Iwo Jima statue as they get the well casing (outer pipe) of our borehole well in place.
The happy guy pictured here is Bwambale Lawrence, patron of the Wildlife Club at Kitere Primary School. The foggy beverage in our hands is called Bushera, a traditional beverage made by the Bukiga people in the southwestern parts of the country. It’s made by soaking (and eventually fermenting) sorghum over the course of a couple days – amazingly, you can find recipes for it online!
One day we arrived home from work to find a slow burn creeping through the eucalyptus grove next to the volunteer house. I went to go investigate, and a gaggle of neighbor kids came along and started putting out the fire with nothing more than sticks. We never found out why it was lit in the first place.
Nsonzi! Sometime in February I was told about these slippery little mudfish that children catch in the swampy wetlands near their homes and determined to do it myself. Tusiime Brian here was a friend of my boss and just the man to teach me. We hopped down into a puddle, swept a bed net through a couple times and caught six in no more than five minutes! Yes, I ate them. To my disappointment, they were not the marbled lungfish species that I hoped to find – a common marsh dweller in Uganda that boasts the largest DNA genome of any vertebrate on earth.
Much of the developing world runs on motorcycles and the “boda guys” who drive them. Young Jonathan here hasn’t had his lessons quite yet, but that didn’t stop us from doing a quick photoshoot.
The best way to end a workday is by slashing up a jackfruit for everyone to share.
That’s me! Prepped and ready for our Patrons Workshop in February, one of our bigger events in which we gather ~5 teachers from each of our 16 schools to tell ’em what’s up for this next year.
Another shot from the lovely walk home. Quite a way to end a workday.
Last year’s fellow Aly continued working for KFSP for another six months after her fellowship ended, so everyone was torn up to see her finally depart for real. I ordered a cake from the bakery in town to commemorate the occasion, and requested over the phone that they write on it “Safe travels, Aly.” As you can see…
From our front gate one misty morning.
From a brief trip to the Pare Mountains in northeast Tanzania. This woman pulled a fish out of that lake roughly every two minutes for the full hour or two we sat there. The Pare are a lovely place and very much off the tourist track – if you’re looking for a different kind of trip in Tanzania, I got a guy.
Here I am atop Kindoroko Mountain, pointing down to the shores of Lake Jipe!
Here I am at the shores of Lake Jipe, pointing up to the top of Kindoroko Mountain!
Our day trip to Lake Jipe from the Pare Mountains was full of hilarity and 180-degree-turns. We may be slogging through birdshit and mud in sandles, but look at those smiles!
Every once in a while while at home, you’d look up to notice a gecko scurrying along the walls. I never quite got used to it. This little guy was the tiniest and most charming lil’ bugger I saw all year round! I tried to imprint myself as his mama, but that doesn’t work too well with reptiles…
A shot from our backyard, these “tree tomatoes” had been planted a year ago by a previous fellow and provided continuous harvest from November through March. Locally they’re known as ebidodaima, Reddit informed me that they’re known globally as tomarillos.
Clara and I enjoying chapati at the top of a hike near the “Mountains of the Moon” area. The complex roughly obscured by her head is Mountains of the Moon University. If there are any high school students reading this in the process of writing college apps, I bet ya can’t find a school in the US that will beat that view…
This was taken to be included in a Powerpoint, but ended up being one of my favorite pictures. I did a training in April about how to keep an organized computer desktop, and made the analogy that no one wants to work at a messy (literal) desktop. This is the main work table at the KFSP office on a pretty typical day, a fitting counterexample for the point I was making!
Clara and I got to spend a day with the field assistants of the Kibale Chimpanzee Project tracking chimps in the forest. It was astonishingly hard work that I definitely couldn’t do day after day, but an incredibly cool experience regardless.
A particularly wonderful sunset over the Rwenzori mountains that we were treated to at the end of a long school visit.
For some reason felt compelled to take this picture on a hazy Tuesday morning.
Ahh, my beloved backpack looking a little worse-for-wear deep into the rainy season. While American travelers might take a dirty backpack as a sign of adventures proudly had, my coworkers were having NONE of this. Which is why it had to be…
Cleaned! A basin of laundry detergent and a good brush can work wonders.
Just another regular day, headed to down when gorgeous sun rays broke out over the Rwenzori.
The day I picked up the last two available gorilla trekking permits for my father and I to visit later in July. This (visibly) came after a very dusty bus ride to Kampala.
June 2nd was a great day in town, the date of the annual rally car race! I posted up in a restaurant across from the starting/finishing area, but couldn’t manage a good view of anything interesting. I probably should’ve joined these folks atop the risers…
Dotted throughout the general poverty of East Africa are tourist lodges the splendor and beauty of which make you feel all kinds of things at once. Kyaninga Lodge is one such place – I visited for a couple meals on special occasions, but never had the good fortune to spend a night.
These morning glory flowers are everywhere around Kasiisi, growing back and forth along fences. The eucalyptus trees seen behind it are as well – they’re planted in groves and harvested for timber due to its extremely high growth rate. It unfortunately provides nothing of value to the local ecosystem and takes up a ton of water at the same time.
Some bananas are just born different.
For a couple days in June this massive ant highway persisted across the main path we take to the office. Soldiers defend the tunnel along the outside while workers migrate larvae from (presumably) and old nest to a new site.
Another shot from the walk home, featuring a very sultry moon.
A close-up of a piece of abstract art my father and I saw at the Inema Art Center in Kigali, Rwanda.
Padre and I looking dapper atop a hotel rooftop bar in Kigali.
Padre and I rejoicing in the green valleys of Rwanda just before we reach the norther border crossing to Uganda. Everything’s more organized in Rwanda, even the rows of the tea plantations.
You can’t see him, but there’s a silverback gorilla buried beneath the leaves there where the man with the camera is looking. Padre and I went gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a tough place to get to but one that’s very much worth the journey.
We stopped to check out the view as we continued north through Uganda’s western region – the vast plain seen my father and our driver Francis are checking out is Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Ironically, probably the best wildlife shot I got while in Queen Elizabeth was of somebody’s cat.
I spent almost the whole year less than a degree north of the Equator, so on this fateful day Padre and I finally encountered it.
Notice the similarity? The bill in my hand is a 20,000 Ugandan shilling note, worth just over $5. Ndali Crater Lake is picture on the back of it, and in the background of the picture. They even nailed that tree!
New profile pic, Dad? We took a brief tour of the Kasiisi farm on our first day in town and took the opportunity to slaughter a few chickens for lunch the next day.
Oh god, the hair. The chicken whose days I ended was supposed to be done laying, but evidence found within suggests otherwise.
Padre and Godfey rolling down the road for dad’s first ever boda ride. Not visible: the three chicken carcasses in his right hand.
One of the highlights of Padre’s trip was bringing him on as a co-coach for our weekly Kasiisi Girls’ Football practice. I of course grew up with him coaching me, so it was pretty darn neat to join forces in mentoring a next generation.
Padre tries to make chapati under the cruel tutelage of Richard. Mixed results.
Making our way up the lookout tour at Kampala’s National Gaddafi Mosque.
A student of Kiko Primary School at a friendly spelling competition between Kiko and Kasiisi. The headteachers initiated these friendlies in preparation for the regional spelling competition. All words are in English.
To celebrate World Chimpanzee Day, we brought together some of our sharpest students and most experienced forest rangers for a radio show! Many thanks to Jubilee Radio for hosting KFSP et al.
A jackfruit feast is an amazing thing to witness. You don’t eat the skin, nor seeds, nor stringy bits, but rather the flesh holding all of it together. It’s a unique flavor, but probably closer to Starburst candies than anything else I can think of.
A charismatic young boy from Kyanyawara Primary School performs a traditional Tooro dance as part of the rehearsals for Elephant Pride Day.
At the end of my podcast with Headteacher Moses, I asked him about the (at the time) ongoing inter-house football competition. House Kilimanjaro came out on top, and they were pretty stoked about it,
On the walk home one day I encountered a young boy selling fish he had just caught from one of the nearby lakes. These three “esamaki” cost 1,000 UGX, about 30 cents.
Elephant Pride Day! The village of Busingye was one of our most successful stops, thanks in large part to a fantastic performance by Rwenkuba Primary School. In the middle, you can see P7 student Calvin having brought some audience members into the dance for a good time.
Another Southern stop from Elephant Pride Day, the village of Kajumiro B. The students of Kasenda Primary School seriously impressed us with their costuming; here you can see the Mzungu tourists taking pictures of the beautiful elephants.
All photos captured by Zach Manta with a Sony Xperia X unless otherwise stated.