D'arcy Lunn recently travelled to Luweero, Uganda to visit the library that was opened in 2012 with the help of the Rotary Club of Ottawa-Stittsville. Here is his story - 

 

What to spend a weekend doing, when you can travel anywhere in the world, learn anything you could imagine or have a hot romance with your fantasies running wild…?!

You can also add in some of the best fresh pineapple in the world, wild native honey and a bunch of friendly small town folks.

I am talking about Luweero, a town in Uganda, 65km north of Kampala on the main road to Gulu. As for travelling, learning and romances I am referring to the amazing extensive public library in Luweero with every kind of book imaginable - especially National Geographic magazines and children’s books.

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My reason for going to Luweero was to give a presentation on the global eradication of polio and the importance of routine immunization with the up and coming Luweero Rotary Club which is close to formation. At my presentation there were over 30 committed community people who wanted to know more about how to be more involved in the betterment of health for their community and country.

I was lucky to have a contact from Luweero who I met in Canada at a similar such event last year. Susan is a wonderful community-minded person no matter where she is… She has been able to mobilize the community in Canada where she currently lives (most of the time) to send a shipping container full of books to the community where she grew up (Luweero).

Uganda is light on books and the culture of reading - it just isn’t a big part of life, particularly as a child, mostly due to lack of access to resources, books and time. For me who grew up with nightly bedtime stories from my parents, teachers reading to the class and still today reading every night before going to sleep, being surrounded in books for the first time in 5 months since arriving in Uganda it was like being a kid in a candy shop (but better for you!).

The Maama Watali library is a wonderful attribute to the friendly and fresh town of Luweero and so close to Kampala. It is a great excuse for a day trip to get out of Kampala, have a read, eat some pineapple and get some souvenir honey to take home.

My only regret was that I didn’t have kids with me as I would have loved to sit myself and them on the mat and read to them a few of the many children’s books on offer. In the end it was probably good I didn’t have kids with me as I took my bicycle with me (by vehicle) and cycled back to Kampala the following day on smooth, scenic and safe back roads all the way to Kampala!

I can only highly recommend a brief day, weekend or longer visit to Luweero, the library and surrounds for any kind of person, family and friends group.

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To be honest I am not a big reader but loved being out of town and looking at National Geographic pictures and having chats with the locals learning of the recent past where they have had to face rebels, HIV and poverty but are friendly and thankful today.

I also chose to spend the night there in one of the clean, safe and friendly guest houses before leaving early the next morning on my bicycle and arriving before midday back in Kampala.

If you want to know more about the library please get in touch with Susan or her brother Jackson who would love to see you enjoying the books and the library and the more the merrier! Remember you are guaranteed to find adventure, romance or whatever you might be looking for in life (at least in the books!).