Shamim Okolloh is a graduate student at the Clinton School of Public Service and is completing her service project with Heifer Uganda, collaborating with the Mbale Secondary School in eastern Uganda. We've shared with you what we know about how the mudslides in Uganda have affected our participants in the field, but Okolloh has a first-hand account that captures the full impact of the disaster. Read the full story on her blog.
Mudslides in Eastern Uganda
by Shamim Okolloh
On Sunday August 28th, I was caught in heavy rains while at the market close to my apartment. It rained for close to 12 hours non-stop. Monday morning we woke up to headlines that a mudslide had occurred in Bulambuli – being new to Uganda, I didn’t really have a concept of where or how far that was and when I saw the images on TV I thought ‘man, that’s really tragic’.
A few days later, the news hit close to home. Bulambuli is about 30 kilometers from Mbale town. We got reports that we had Heifer supported farmers in the mudslide area that have been affected and since I’m based at the Heifer Uganda Eastern Regional office, I got a chance to head out to the field. This was my first time at a disaster site and nothing in the world could have prepared me for it.
Watching the 2-minute mudslide news clips on TV is way different to standing on mud knowing homes, chicken, clothes, cows, school books, radios, flowers, food, crops, cups, parents and children were buried underneath.
There were numerous mudslides but the two tragic ones occurred between 1am – 3am while people were asleep. And there is no electricity – so those who fled did it in total darkness.
The toughest part for me was while interviewing Mr. John Kisholo. I had previously talked to some supported farmers and during the “what have you lost” question, it was normally followed by beans, maize, coffee, goats and such but when I asked Mr. Kisholo what he lost, he started by giving names. His 4 children, three boys and a girl were buried in the mudslide. I just froze. That was the last interview I did.
|John Kisholo looking through what used to be his home.
He lost four children when his home was buried in the mud.