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skate-aid is active in Kampala in the township Kitintale, where about 20,000 people live. Some of the biggest problems in Kitintale are educational poverty, unemployment, HIV, AIDS and drug abuse.
Our project partner on site is the Uganda Skateboard Union (USU) who built their own small skate park in 2006. The skate park has now become the meeting place for the township youth and for many of them the Uganda Skateboard Union has become their surrogate family. This proves the project is not just about skateboarding, but also about providing a stable social environment that very few kids and teenagers experience at home.
Since 2010 we have been working closely together with our partner. Jackson Mubiru, President of USU, now works full time for the project. He takes care of the skate park, manages the kids, maintains contact with sponsors and visits the schools of the participating children.
One of the first measures taken was the renovation of the skate park to reduce the risk of injury. In addition, the USU is regularly supplied with new skateboards, safety gear and helmets. In 2017, the expansion of the skate park was financed by our Christmas donation campaign. The work was completed in fall 2018. In the following years, the park was continuously expanded and in the future, step by step, it will also be developed into a complete youth-and community center.
Like every year we can say:
A lot has happened in Kitintale/Uganda!
We were able to add a miniramp to the skate park in 2022, as well as a plaza and a "library", (an educational building with an integrated library and computers). The IBS Foundation has built a climate-friendly volunteer house on the initiative of the locals. Thus, the skate park will live up to its growing role as a community center and we’ll be able to offer the kids more activities that go beyond skateboarding. For this purpose, we have decided to found skate-aid Uganda. Like this we can support the skateboard culture in Uganda beyond Kitintale and Kampala and make sure that this project will be self-sufficient in the long run. There’s still a lot to come...
We’ll keep you updated
AN UGANDA EXPERIENCE:
Today, I want to share my experience with you to build a Skull Bowl in Uganda, which turned into a swimming pool party! Yes, you are reading it correctly, SWIMMINGPOOL PARTY for the kids of the slums!
Just a quick introduction: The Skull Bowl project was designed by BETONGLANDSCHAFTEN from Cologne and executed by the skate-aid International Team: Arne, Kiki and me in cooperation with locals and guided by Jack, Präsident of the Uganda SkateboardUnion (USU) and Director of skate-aid Uganda. More than 50 people from the community were involved in the project. Without them and the help of all the donors this project would not has been possible.
The initial plan was to get it done at the beginning of 2020. That’s what we thought before this whole COVID situation, that no one could predict, hit the entire world.
So we spent months and months trying to get the opportunity to travel to Uganda, but the only outcome of this tragic situation was flight cancellations, government travel bans, movement restrictions, lockdowns, etc. Basically…a nightmare! Luckily, 2021 smiled at us, the travel bans were lifted and so we decided to give it a try.
There I was, on March 2021 in a plane straight to Kampala with a bunch of pandemic fears in my backpack. The feeling of excitement was running around all over my body while sitting in an almost empty but massive plane. I even managed to comfortably sleep on a 5 row seat, thanks to most people choosing not to travel out of fear!
Finally travelling! I could not believe this was happening after postponing the trip so many times during the last months.
The plane landed in Kampala/Uganda and within 5 minutes after I left the plane I was fully covered in sweat! The weather was nice and warm with high humidity. It was really nice to have this feeling, especially after coming from the cold north European winter!
Jack, Peter, Payes and a taxi driver picked me up at the airport with a big bright smile. The taxi driver drove all the way through Kampala to the Kitintale Slum where the project is located. On the way, there was no one on the streets, except army and policemen because of the curfew. At one point they pulled us over, because we were technically not allowed to be out on the streets at that hour. We explained to them that we just came from the airport and that I just had landed. The Policemen had a discussion with the taxi driver in the local language but at one point, I saw the taxi driver reach for cigarettes and a little bit of money in the glove compartment and laughter followed. We were free to go! Welcome to Uganda!!!
The day after, we started with the construction project. We were looking for materials and trying hard not to get ripped off. As you may or may not know, in east Africa, if you are white (a “Muzungu” in the local language) and most especially if you’re a tourist, you’re considered to be a bottomless pit of money. The activities of the day also included seeking interested community members who wanted to be involved in the project and starting with the groundwork phase of the project.
During this phase, we discovered that the water level was higher than expected. We had to readapt the design and build the bowl higher to keep the water away. On top of that, we also had the struggle of getting all the materials throughout the narrow streets transported by a 4-ton truck! That truck had to do more than 200 trips overall to get everything needed for the construction to the site. To make things even more complicated, the materials were delivered 50 meters away from the construction site. Therefore, every single pile of stones and sand, bags of cement, bricks, steel bars and all materials that were used on the construction site were moved by hand, bicycle or wheelbarrow! No excavator or heavy machinery involved, just pure sweat, blood and muscles! I lost count of the number of times we shovelled material into the wheelbarrow, wheeled it to the construction site, dumped it and started the process all over again. It was more than 10,000 times for sure!!
After a few days, Kiki from Canada arrived. Arne, an old friend from Germany, also joined the team. Arne has more than 100 skatepark construction projects under his belt. They both proved to be a good addition to the equation.
Day after day we worked hard together with the locals. I really think that is the best way to connect and share different realities from different perspectives/ worlds, while we were all doing the same work and
we were all talking to each other on the same level.
The routine was “Rolex” in the morning (a local rolled fried crepe with vegetables) and local black overly sweet tea. We worked until lunch during which we had a generous plate of ugali (local porrige), rice, vegetables and beans. We all ate together and kept working until the late afternoon, depending on weather conditions, slept and repeated the routine! It may seem tough, but I thoroughly enjoyed every step of the process. The laughs while working, the songs sung during the work and the kids playing around a park nearby. The feeling is difficult to put into words.
I wanted to get as many locals as possible involved in the building of the project, providing them with some compensation and a free meal everyday. Everybody involved was happy to be part of the project and working on it definitely developed a sense of ownership around the whole community. Every day, random people would gather, curious about what was happening and the project that we were building. In the beginning, no one understood what we were doing, even the locals involved in the project, but once the final shape was looking like a bowl, you could see the excitement in their eyes!
Two and a half months later, we managed to get the bowl done! It was a lot of hard work, lots of shovelings, wheelbarrows and quite some days of extreme weather conditions, but we got it done just before my birthday.
For my birthday, I decided to do something special and memorable that can last in my mind and the minds of the kids forever. Taking advantage of the rainy season, we clogged the bowl’s drainage system and let it fill up over a few days until the water level was at least 1 m deep.
The day came and the bowl was half empty or half full of water, depending on how you want to look at it. Jack got a ladder that we placed into the bowl and I leaped into the water in front of few shy kids. I started joyfully jumping and playfully splashing the water while the kids were looking at Jack wondering what to do. Then Jack nodded his head, signalling his permission and the kids joined me in the skull bowl pool. One kid went to tell his friends and the word spread like wildfire! After few minutes there were more than 100 kids screaming, jumping and splashing. I will never forget the loud smiles of the kids swimming in a pool for the first time in their life, 100 per cent a priceless feeling that I will keep in my storehouse of memories!
And then it was finally time: the day of the grand opening was here! The kids couldn‘t wait to finally skate the bowl. Also, the skate-aid delegation, consisting of Titus, Maik and Ralf Maier (Betonlandschaften) was full of joyful excitement. Many thanks to everyone involved who made this awesome project possible, specialy to Gabu, Ralf and Jörg Baumgarten.
This project was started by the Titus Dittman Foundation and then taken over by the skate-aid e.V. München. skate-aid international e.V. has been implementing the project since May 2019.