Dina Buck (United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda - UOBDU): Dina’s undergraduate degrees include a BA in Philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a BS in Environmental Policy and Assessment from Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University. In 2010, Dina served as an AP Peace Fellow with the Kampala-based World Peasants/Indigenous Organization (WPIO), now called the East and Central Africa Association for Indigenous Rights (ECAAIR), which advocates for Batwa rights in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. At the time of her 2011 fellowship, Dina was studying for her Master’s degree in International Human Rights at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at University of Denver, with concentrations in both sustainable development and international administration and law. After her fellowship Dina wrote: “This fellowship has helped me learn more about my capabilities and my handicaps. I also feel I understand better how to sustainably empower people, and work with them in a way that honors their dignity, intelligence, and capabilities.”


14 Jul

Tags: Al Shabaab, Bombings, World Cup
Taking a little diversion from the topic of ECAAIR due to the latest events in Kampala.

It seems that tragedy and disorder chose to hit all at once in these past few days. To say the Sunday bombings in Kampala during the World Cup finals were disturbing is an understatement. I heard one of the explosions in the evening. The noise was loud enough to capture my attention. Not knowing what it was, I wondered if someone had just shot off a large gun in the distance. At just before five in the morning, Erin from Advocacy Project phoned me to ask if I was okay. Still not knowing what was going on, and in a sleepy stupor, I heard her say something about explosions and people getting killed.

In the morning, as I made my way to a café near my hotel for breakfast, my eye caught the headlines of a local paper: “Over 25 Killed in City Bombs” it said. I purchased the paper and was treated to a variety of photos of people still sitting in their chairs, heads tilted at odd angles, and blood staining their clothing. I immediately lost my appetite, and was filled with a strange sense of anxiety. It was clear the victims had died instantly, so at least I hope there was no suffering. One young man still had his arms crossed, a woman still had her drink between her legs. As I sat in the café, trying to will away my unsettled feelings, a gentleman walked up to the table of people next to me to tell them he was checking on all the people he loves to make sure they’re okay. Later, I was unable to access the Internet, save a couple of webpages. Somehow, after 30 minutes of waiting, the cover page of The New York Times loaded, and there in the headlines it said over 50 had been killed (last I heard, the official number had risen to 74). Tuesday, Kampala officials say they found an undetonated bomb in a popular night club.

That the terrorist group out of Somalia called Al Shabaab says it is behind it all, and is planning more attacks if Uganda doesn’t withdraw its troops from Somalia, is disquieting as well though, in keeping perspective, my husband and I both agreed that something like this could happen anywhere in the world, including at home.

Wanting to contact my own loved ones and let them know I was okay, I continued to be unable to load any of my e-mail accounts. Apparently, in a bad stroke of luck, Kampala, simultaneously with the bombings, was experiencing city-wide Internet access problems due to some cable failure or damage (unrelated to the bombings).

Adding to my frustration, I was supposed to start work with Fred from ECAAIR on July 5th or 6th, but he came down with malaria, and then some sort of secondary cough and flu. Finally, on Sunday the 11th, he contacted me to meet. We met somewhat late in the day, and I could tell he was not feeling 100%. Still, it was good to finally make contact.

The next day, I waited for Fred to show up at 2:00 to show me how to get to the office in the Kampala outskirts. At 4:30 p.m., he finally called me. He said someone in his household had been attacked, hit in the head, and had lost some teeth. Thus, he’d been running around taking this person to the hospital and the dentist. Well, this is a good excuse for being a no-show, I have to admit. I told him how sorry I was to hear of the attack (and I also felt a little disturbed because suddenly everything was starting to seem very violent and insecure), and that I hoped everything would turn out okay.

The next day, I waited for Fred again. At 3:00, he finally phoned me and told me that he was at some road barrier, and that his neighbor had died in one of the bombings. I am finding that trials and tribulations like this are common in many Ugandan’s lives. It seems par for the course.

And so life moves forward, and we do the best we can. Patience and perspective Dina. Take a deeeeeep breath. In the meantime, I am grateful for the restored Internet.

My heart goes out to the families of the victims of the bombings. I can’t imagine what they must be going through right now.


Posted Jul 14th, 2010

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