It just so happened that our first weekend in Rubugiri coincided with Big Beyond’s major event of the year, the annual Mountain Gorilla Trail Run. This was the fourth(?) year of the event, and for the first time would feature a 21k race, in addition to the usual 5k, 10k, and a 1k for young children. The race, besides being fun, was a way to generate wider publicity and educational outreach for Big Beyond and its projects, create community spirit, and bring in business and sponsorships. Maybe, someday soon, this event would attract runners from around the world. A young intern from Sweden, Alexandra, was in charge, and all the staff and volunteers would help.
In the days leading up to the race, we barely saw Alex, she was so busy arranging logistics. We finally cornered her on Friday to ask for instructions. What was the plan? How could we help?
“Um, let me think about that. Do you speak Rukiga? Would you like to be the emcee?”
Er, no, we’ve been here five days, we don’t speak the local language. Also, to be master of ceremonies, you need to be familiar with the program. But, I suggested, a copy of the program or schedule of events, or a task list, or just a list saying “this person is in charge of that job,” would be very helpful to everyone.
Alex looked like she wanted to flee. At last we prevailed upon her to divide the event into broad, logistical categories. She pointed to volunteers—Amy and Michela: registration. Denise and Karel: shelters, tables and chairs, start and finish line, banners, etc., and of course, take pictures. Nick and Yoly: stage and sound system, announcements, prizes. Scout troop: bottled water, children’s activities.
Great! Where are all the supplies and materials? Is there a site map showing the layout you want? How many people are coming? Who’s in charge of first aid? Alex muttered something about not having time for this, and ran off into the night. In her defense, she’d been working on the event for many weeks already, and she’d been here long enough to understand, T.I.A. This Is Africa. Make all the plans you want; that is not how things happen here.
“Do you think we need first aid?” Yoly asked.
“You have a bunch of people running 21 kilometers in the mountains, in the hot sun? It might be a good idea to have someone on stand-by.” I keep tripping over my own assumptions about how things “should” be done. This is Africa. Just go with it.This entry was posted in Uganda, Vacation 2016: East/South Africa