Protecting Your Melon with Safe Boda

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I recently had the opportunity to spend the day with Ugandan startup, Safe Boda. This is what I discovered.

In Kampala, innovative thinking comes in the shape of a helmet. Seeking to be a catalyst for change, local startup Safe Boda has its work cut out for it. Across Uganda, 40% of hospital visits are a result of boda boda accidents, so there is a pressing need for safety-first thinking.

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Identifying this glaring need, Safe Boda has committed to working with the Ugandan Red Cross to offer comprehensive first aid and driver training to their growing community of safety conscious bodas. But at the core of Safe Boda is an ethos of community building and empowerment, to work alongside Kampalans to win hearts and most importantly, minds.

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The mentality in Uganda is that helmets are an unnecessary inconvenience; they aren’t enforced like in neighbouring Rwanda. In a stunning example of the uphill battle that Safe Boda is attempting to climb, not all Safe Boda customers choose to wear a helmet, even though one is provided free of charge. Some customers think that first aid training and better driving is all the insurance they need.

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In response to this kind of thinking, Safe Boda driver Geoffrey scoffs and says, “You see our heads? It’s like a watermelon. When you hold a watermelon in your hands, if it falls, do you know how it looks? That’s how your head will be!”

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This is the Safe Boda challenge, to protect your melon. To find out more about Safe Boda, visit the website.

‪#‎ProtectYourMelon‬
http://www.safeboda.com/

Download the app!

https://itunes.apple.com/app/id908613727

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hehe.safeboda&hl=en

 

The Amazing Owse and the Amorality of Immigration

DSC00226 The amazing Owse is my go to guy for a delicious rolex, two fried eggs on warm chapati with fresh tomato and onion. Owse has become a fast friend, seeking to learn about Canada as much as he can. DSC00330 In the past couple of weeks he has expressed his desire to come to Canada to find new opportunities. He asked me to find out what I could for him. So I set myself to finding opportunities and it wasn’t long before I realized it was more than a long shot, it’s next to impossible. As it is now, our temporary foreign workers program allows workers to stay in Canada for 4 consecutive years with no chance of going home. When the 4 years are up they have to leave Canada for another 4 years. After 4 years, they could come back with some luck but still have no better chance at becoming a permanent resident. Under our current government, we offer permanent residency to economic immigrants who have a net worth of at least $10 million. It’s telling that we, in one of the world’s richest least-populated countries, accept super rich immigrants while having allowed less than 1,000 Syrian refugees fleeing a brutal civil war. Given this completely unequal system, what hope could Owse, the 18 year old rolex cook with a grade 3 education, ever have? DSC01551

Why in a country like Canada do we only provide opportunity to those who can pay for it? We are a blessed society, yet we keep the benefits from those who could profit from it most. It’s not just unfair, it’s amoral.

Pillar of the Community

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This man’s name is Remy and he’s quite remarkable. On my daily walks, I keep stopping in to say hello and chat with him and the assortment of friends that show up at his shop.

Yesterday, I stopped in and got caught up in a conversation with his friends from topics ranging from the changing climate, revolution in Burundi, the damage of local ecosystems caused by exploitative extractive industries and the hope for something better. All the while we spoke I was dripping sweat and Remy was quick to offer me a bottle of water, yet refused to take money when I insisted.

As I left his shop, one of the regulars, a frail man named Fred, walked outside with me and asked to show me his photo album. He pulled out a small laminated book from his pocket of photos showing his wedding, his son and his family. All the while, he had tears in his eyes. The last thing he showed me was a medical certificate that said he was HIV/AIDS positive. He explained the hardship that this has caused him, from the loss of his home, his family and his job. He then explained to me that despite his misfortune, Remy stands by him, offering him a place to sleep when he has none, feeding him when he goes hungry.

This morning, I was set on paying Remy for a service, since he has been so generous with me. I walked up to get breakfast, a rolex they call it, two eggs, onion and tomato on this delicious chapati bread. After finding the cook for me, Remy invited me to come sit with him. Soon, my rolex was done and once I again I found my payment refused. Remy told me it was because I was a good man, but I had to disagree. It’s clearly he who is the good man. He is beyond generous with what he has to everyone, whether they might have a lot or a little. I’m coming to realize what the true meaning of being a pillar of your community is.