Thursday, 3 September 2009

Many Ogilvy Hands on Twitter

There's nothing quite closing the gate once the horse has bolted or indeed the goat, but if you fancy a retrospective look back at the Twitter updates, check out twitter/manyogilvyhands.


Uganda - MOH Day 6

Forgive me if this is a little foggy in places. We had a bit of a BBQ party last night at the local Ogilvy office and although we were all perfectly well behaved, the introduction of alcoholic drinks after a week of healthy living has left me a little worse for wear, thankfully its not punishingly hot this morning in Kampala, as i sit on our tiny balcony overlooking the city.

Yesterday morning we left Buikwei, to head back to the city. Over the course of the 5 days that we had spent at the school, we had met a host of kind and generous people who we had bonded with very quickly. We all became very fond of the area and had quickly settled into a Ugandan-style routine, of hard work and simple pleasures. So it was inevitable that leaving was going to be a sad moment.

We said our goodbyes to the builders, who all came to say fairwell, and David the site manager and soon to be teacher, made a small impromptu speech which touched us all. He said "that even though you are not here in person, you will be here in spirit' which is a wonderful testament to the past few days work, and completely clarifies to me how much positive impact the project has already had.

During the drive back to Kampala, we stopped off at a roadside market so a few of us, could purchase some drums. Some of the group had been lucky enough to be taught some basic drumming skill by Joy, the music teacher at the school and suffice to say, they all now think of themselves as the next African Drum Keith Moon. Several drums were purchased, i think the lady who owned the shop had thought that christmas had come early. We now only have to figure out how to get them all back to the UK. I have suggested disguising ourselves as a touring band, but i fear that would be a lost cause.

In Kampala, we briefly stopped at a craft fair, to pick up some gifts and yes, more drums were bought. The craft stalls are all similar, but worth a nose about, though i was the victim of some rather creative maths when receiving my change after one particular purchase. Lunch was ate at the local Nandos and although everyone was ravenous, we all immediately regretted the culinary choice and began to miss Irenes cooking a lot.

We were driven to our new hotel/hostel, which is at the top of the town, near the catherdral, and before we headed out to the Ogilvy office, we were briefly introduced to Justice. Not i hasten to add in the old fashioned terminology, as in "i shall show you the true meaning of Justice", no, Justice is the big cheese behind the IN projects in Africa, and does a tremendous amount of work for the area. He has just returned from Australia the previous day, where he traveled for 3 weeks, giving presentations, meeting schools/business' etc. Time is short and i feel this is becoming a long rambling post so i shall talk about Justice and the projects separately.

Finally, we make it to the BBQ and met David Case and his team. Its a small operation as you can imagine and there clients and work vary hugely from any London or indeed Western offices. There's a few nuggets of interest to mull over regarding African advertising, but i might wait until a later blog to talk turkey. The BBQ and drinks were excellent and it was great to see that the vast majority of the office was populated by local talent, headed up by David and his Creative Director James. The evening went by rapidly, helped no doubt by the Wariga, or War Gin, we were drinking, dangerous on any night, but especially after our extended break.

We returned to the hotel in high spirits and i spent the next 20 minute trying to take night shots of Kampala (see above) with mixed results, but eventually crawled into my, slightly short bed, and tried to black out the intruding light from the corridor,, with an advanced, lycra short headband (don't ask). Sleep was hard to come by, but we have one more day in the city before we head home, so i must away, will ramble on later.


Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Uganda - MOH Day 5

It was to be our final day on site, which seems to have come around far too soon., and we were split into 2 teams for morning/afternoon shift work.

We had been invited by the IN team Paul & Tom to visit some of the other families around the area, some of which are less than fortunate and live far below the nominal Ugandan bread line. Many families are without mothers/fathers due to approximately 15% of the population being HIV positive. Other husbands are polygamists, allowing them to have more than 1 wife (some have 3 or 4) which not only means they are absent from their homes a lot, but the multiple partners plays right into the hands of the virulent HIV virus.

I wasn't visiting until the afternoon, so i made my way up to the site with the others. The sun was beating down but thankfully, we had made such an impact on the building over the past 3 days, that there was less hardcore work to be done and mostly included helping to finish the dividing walls and general tidying up of the site.

It was hard work none the less and to emphasise the workload, I've managed to wear a hole in my leather work gloves - you just cant get the quality these days.

In the afternoon, after another stirling lunch, we took it easy until we were bussed around to visit the families that IN sponsor and therefore enable to get to school. We were guided by Peter, a local social worker, who took us via the village into the jungle, where small pockets of people live in small 2/3 house settlements. The life they lead, truly, makes you aware of the difference between us and them. The vast majority of people we met were happy and very welcoming, but the standard of living is vastly different as you would expect. Children (who are lucky enough to afford the $15 a month) have to walk up to an hour and a half to get to school, for 7:30 in the morning.

We were introduced to 8 different families, one specifically that Peter was very proud of who had successfully been sponsored and had just qualified as a primary school teacher, all she needs now is a school, oh, hang on.....

I could go on and on about the kids and how, despite their circumstances are bright happy and enormously charismatic, not to mention beautiful, you could take photos of them all day every day, and all your pics would be great (massive disclaimer).

Its sad that this part of our trip is already over, as we make our way back to Kampala tomorrow. What is brilliant is that David, the site leader, believes the contribution of work from us, has saved them 5 days, and they were able to start pouring the cement pillars today, a full week ahead of schedule. If that doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy i don't know what will.

Uganda - MOH Day 4

Firstly, apologies to any readers of this blog (hello? anyone?) but Day 3's blog is being written on the morning of Day 4 due to some excellent entertaining last night of some local folk and International Needs workers, but more of that later.

Initially though, Day 3 was all about working on the site. The weather was hot and as we made our way from our hostel up the path to the building site, you could sense that whatever we did today was going to be hard work, because of the heat. We set to work straight away to help clear the huge amount of broken bricks that gather around the site as builders either dispose of the oddly shaped cast-outs that don't fit in with the rest of the wall, or simply brake when you pick them up.

They were everywhere.

The group split in smaller groups and formed chains from one side of the building to another, to enable us to quicken the process. We managed to clear an entire side of the site and began to make our way around the building, linking and chucking as we went. Smaller rubble was piled into a wheelbarrow and heaved around to join the rest. 6 wheelbarrows later and i had noticed my load and upgraded from 'small rubble' to the more standard 'bricks' and had gradually become very heavy, but like the frog in the slowly boiling water, i had failed to notice and it was only my aching forearms that were spreading the news.

The best lunch of the week so far (mushy peas!) was followed by the majority of the group helping prepare dinner for our guests later in the day, either by peeling (Stephen nearly losing fingers) or shopping. Meanwhile 3 of us (Myself, Karen and Adrian) returned to the site to learn bricklaying and help to finish off the final few layers on the last wall to be completed. Bricklaying is a bit of an art form, and after some excellent tutorage by David, the site manager of the day, we set about slowly contributing to the wall. My slightlt OCD nature lead to some fairly treacle like progress, but the afternoon passed by quickly and before we knew it the local workers had stopped leaving us 3 to finish off our sand/cement.

Our visitors that i mentioned earlier started to gather at about 6-30, but similar to kids at a school disco, they hugged the perimeter and waited for all their group to gather before making an entrance. We built a campfire and after all helping ourselves to the amazing food on offer (we still don't know how the chef Irene knew exactly how many kilos of food to buy to feed the exact amount of people). It was obviously very well received as there wasn't a bean left. Irene explained that many people wouldn't have eaten meat for a while so the chance to tuck into some beef was too good an opportunity to miss.

It was great to be able to share an evening with everyone, and Adrian our house musician entertained us with an excellent acoustic set, including such its as 'Toxic' and 'Man in the Mirror'. We were thanked for our hospitality and our hard work on the school by Sarah a senior IN worker who looks after this project and it was clear to see on everyones faces what this project means. We were worried that we would be seen as surplus workers or as white people getting in the way, but im in no doubt after the last few days that this is the polar opposite of the truth.