AIDS EDUCATION GROUP FOR YOUTH
After arriving in Uganda, we traveled four hours by bus to Kamuli, a small town in the eastern part of the country. AIDS Education Group for Youth (AEGY) is an organization working within the community to promote the education and the de-stigmatization of HIV/AIDS within the town. They provide support groups, school courses, radio talk shows, and health services to people needing them, with funding provided by Mennonite Central Committee.
Uganda opened my eyes to a new way of thinking about architecture. While working alongside local community leaders, what surprised me most was their home building concerns—not only the importance of sustainable architecture, but the priority they placed on the role that architecture can play to support health within their community. We built eco-kitchens from recycled materials and clay which allowed for proper ventilation to reduce the risk of lung related illnesses of people living with HIV. This unique architectural consideration in a simple family dwelling not only made their homes safe, but gave the community a sense of ownership, pride and self-reliance. My first impression was that the substandard housing made of mud was less than ideal and certainly not what I was used to in Canada. In actual fact, this structure, although simple, had a deliberate and purposeful design.
After building the eco-stoves, we were invited to Namasambya 1 Village Savings and Loans Association. We were welcomed by singing and dancing and they provided us with a delicious traditional meal.
One of the most memorable moments of this trip was in the afternoon of the first day. We were invited to play football (soccer) against a team from the local school. Words can't explain how much fun I had. When I missed the ball, the over 1000 spectators laughed, which caused me to laugh, and then our full team. It was an incredible experience, one that I will never forget!
ARTIVISTS 4 LIFE
After arriving back in Kampala, we spent the following morning at Artivists 4 Life. This organization fuses art with activism and creates a positive impact on members in the community. They use song, art, and dance to raise awareness about community issues as well as provide meaningful employment for youth.
At Artivists 4 Life, I learned how to make bracelets from magazine paper as well as bottle cap earrings. I purchased a plate made from paper and a few bracelets and earrings for friends. During my school presentations, people are amazed on how a simple sheet of paper can be turned into plates, bowls, and even jewelry.