On October 22, upon the counsel of CI leadership, the International Staff team of Jon and Kate Shaw, Jessica Shewan, Lise vanOverbeeke, and Lauren Haylo, along with Jon and Kate’s two boys, moved from Beni to Ft. Portal, Uganda for a brief hiatus. During the previous two weeks, tensions had been building in the region as armed rebels attacked innocent civilians during night-time raids in areas just north of Beni. In the following days, the violence seemed to subside. I was to join the team upon my arrival from the US, en route to DRC. We planned to travel to Beni together on October 28.
But new attacks occurred, this time closer to Beni. We were asked to delay our trip by two days. As things heated up, CI leadership asked us to delay our return for two weeks. The situation in Beni was so dynamic that predictions about security were untenable. UCBC staff and leadership already had their hands full addressing safety of local staff and students, opening the academic year, and caring for their own families.
We stayed at the Golf Course View Guesthouse in Ft. Portal, Uganda, where the team had already set up temporary home. I’m not sure where the golf course was. The staff were kind and attentive. We had a safe place to stay, running water (even hot!), good food, and easy access to markets and affordable restaurants. Knowing that we would be gone from Beni for at least one more week, we decided to research alternative, more relaxed and affordable housing. Two bathrooms served us and the other 2-3 nightly guests. Also, Jon, Kate and their two boys shared one room; and Jessica, Lise, and Lauren shared another. I was the fortunate one with my own room.
Those with Ugandan and Kenyan connections reached out to their networks. By midweek we found a place in Port Bell, Kampala, Uganda. Yesterday, Friday, November 7, we traveled east to Kampala to settle into a pleasant house in a lush, quiet neighborhood.
We are pleased to have more room, including a separate little guesthouse for Kate, Jon, and their boys; a well-equipped kitchen; three bedrooms and four beds for the rest of us. And all of it for about the quarter of the cost of our lodgings in Ft. Portal.