Sneaky Internet

The level of health care most Canadian receive is incredible. That’s a statement that is proven by our Universal Health Care system that ever citizen pays into. We are supported and taken care of when we are sick, and the modern medicine we have access to saves lives and extends our longevity. Being able to recognize this privilege does not make me feel guilty for having them but forces me to appreciate the environment and country I live in. Uganda’s health system is still in its developmental stages. Local health centres can only treat certain types of health problems and have limited resources. The system relies on volunteer health workers to visit the majority of the rural villages in hopes to catch any impending ailments among its population; especially in children and infants.


Rural Uganda

You eventually realize that a ‘work place’ or farm incident/injury more often than not results in a fatality. The remoteness of most of the villages is a huge hurdle when it comes to health care, and certainly in cases that are time sensitive. Is this to say that Ugandan’s aren’t resourceful? Of course not, they have proven may times (even while I was there) that they come together as a community to look out for one another and help each other when someone is in need. The reality is, education and on the ground resources are needed to help grow and amplify the necessary quality of care.


Rural Health Care Centre

The first health centre we stopped at was very rural. It took us on some back roads and then back roads to those back roads. The second centre we visited was a training base for volunteer health workers or VHTs. These VHTs are organized by Healthy Child Uganda to give local villagers the basic health knowledge and skills to check on the younger population in their districts. They learn to take basic measurements for growing children, how to dispense vaccines and de-worming meds, and they learn songs to sing about how to take care of basic hygiene. All those skills are taught on top of the most vital piece of education; VHTs are taught to recognize the signs of children who are malnourished, suffering from trachoma or dysentery, and test to see if the child has inherited HIV or AIDS.


VHT workers gathering for training.

VHT workers are essential for the success for Uganda’s developing health care system and I was so lucky to be apart of a project that got to show and prove it. These volunteers put the health of their community as their top priority and it’s comforting to know that the program continues to grow and recruit more caring community leaders.


Yes, I know I’m a big whinny baby when it came to the lack of internet…I’m sure it’s much better 4 years later. One thing about being able to skip major infrastructure systems…you don’t have to rely on cable!



Entebbe to Mbarara

The first full day in Uganda was filled with driving, filming and some culture processing. The differences in sights, sounds, smells and certainly culture was undeniable and I had to adapt to the new environment I was visiting.

After leaving the Boma, we travelled to the capital city Kampala where we dropped by the Ministry of Health to get a couple of interviews about how Healthy Child Uganda was helping the development of Uganda’s health infrastructure and resources. Following those interviews we moved along toward Mbarara where we had a couple of stops to meet up with some doctors and other individuals involved in Uganda’s health system.

Once we arrived in Mbarara we were put up in the guest houses on the Mbarara University of Science and Technology campus.

Rick and I quickly unpacked and settled into our home for the next week. We took some time to discuss the project and how the following shoot days will most likely proceed. I was still adjusting to the physical environment at this point. The humidity, the change in temperature, and sounds of the insects at night. In Canada we don’t even experience any kind of bug/insect interaction for 6-8 months of the year so needing to sleep with nets around my bed was something unfamiliar.


I needed to get as much sleep as I could as the adventure really start the following day. We head into full production mode and get this project rolling!



Uganda & Kenya

Ready for a time jump? Cause we are going all the way back to 2014 when my uncle and I went on a trip to Uganda and Kenya to document the progress of a great organization called Healthy Child Uganda.

They’re a NGO that was started as a partnership between the Mbarara University of Science and Technology, and a collection of Canadian Universities to develop and grow local health systems.

These vlogs document some of my time in both countries, and how I had to learn some important life lessons. Uganda was the first country that I visited that would defined as “developing.” This trip vaporized my expectations and highlighted some entitlements I harvested as a Canadian.

Electricity, clean water, education, health care, modern amenities, technology, motor transportation; just to name a few are all things that I have access to back home with barely a second thought. It’s not to say Uganda doesn’t have all these systems and infrastructure (they do!) it’s just not distributed to all citizens. I had to reflect at moments to recognize that certain privileges I have are directly connected to the place I was born, the family I was born into, and the complicated dynamics of wealth and value.

Questioning and analyzing your perspective is a necessary skill to develop in life. There is no discernible way to grow and learn without being exposed to different environments, cultures and people. You may not agree with certain aspects of different cultures and that’s completely valid. At the same time it’s important to recognize that there are aspects of your own that may not be the best either.

To clarify, this trip to Uganda nullified some of my inaccurate North American presumptions, and delivered on a terrific learning experience.

If you have any similar experiences I’d love to hear about them. Leave a comment and share with friends 🙂


Kiyomizu Dera

It was the last day in Kyoto and we weren’t going to waste it. When I say last day I also mean a measly 5 hours as we had to catch the shikansen back into Tokyo in the early afternoon. This meant that Joe and I had to make the most of the time we had left, and that we did. After waking up and checking out of the 9h capsule hotel, we took a brief stop at a MOS burger for breakfast and started making our way to Kiyomizu -Dera. After trying to hike our way up toward the temple, Joe and I realized that the incline was far too steep and exhausting for us as we were carrying 20kg of gear. We paused briefly and decided to take a bus the rest of the way (best decision all day).


Elevator at the 9h Capsule Hotel in Kyoto

The grounds were busy with school children and their teachers. I’m not sure if it was the season for the locals to visit or if it’s just that busy everyday but it was one of the most crowded locations we had visited. Additionally the veranda and main hall were then being renovated which limited the amount of photo locations I was going to be happy with. Ignoring my hobby, the temple itself is beautiful and a masterpiece of Japanese ingenuity and wood work.


Locals praying in the main hall

Joe and I didn’t particularly like being around the large crowds so we ventured off into the then leafless forest that surrounds the main hall and explored a bit. My favourite shot of the day was of this small shrine. It was just tucked away from everything and looked undisturbed.


Small shrine at Kiyomizu Dera

Then the “reality wall” hit, and it hit hard. Once we left the temple we’d be officially done with our tourist activities. The rest of the journey would be happening on trains and planes, and would be far less exciting than wandering around local streets. From what I remember I was conflicted because on one hand I was excited to go home and see my family, while on the other I never wanted to give up on the perpetual adventure. Travel can be addictive, it’s the constant motion forward, the exciting unknown. I hope more adventures are to come, but who knows cause the world is an ever-changing place and life has a way of making barriers. As a Canadian I hold a very special ability and privilege to visit the majority of the world without much cause for concern. It’s been 6 years since I was in Japan and I have had other adventures since then, but none have been as influential.



9h Capsule Hotel Experience

Back in 2011, capsule hotels were a strange concept to Western countries. They weren’t as widely known and I felt compelled to experience something so uniquely Japanese. Who would pay good money to rent out a coffin like tube where you slept in the presence of other people who would be stacked on top of you? Right?!


It turns out that the 9h capsule hotel in Kyoto was the strange experience I was looking for. The process for checking in and utilizing the space felt very much like a hostel with the exception of being designed by someone who loved 2001: A Space Odyssey. Admittedly I was fond of how they supplied absolutely everything you’d need to have a satisfactory night of sleep. Immediately after checking in you can unlock your personal locker, which contains a set of pjs, shampoo, conditioner, tooth-brush, tooth paste, and towels. The washroom was very clean and I appreciated the standing showers. Something that was unique to 9h was how you set your “wake up” call. Each unit is equipped to illuminate at a set time, and due to the capsules translucent/reflective material it blasts a very warm light to wake you up.

Video 73.MP4.Still001

The only serious criticism that I had would be just how late people were wandering into the hotel. I remember waking up at 3 am as some other travellers or business women were making their way into their capsules. In hindsight I would have brought some ear plugs and that would have made my stay that much better. There does need to be warning that if you do suffer from claustrophobia this would not be the place for you, but over all the capsules themselves are pretty spacious for what they are.


I never asked Joe about his experience or whether or not he had any problems but I’d say for $50 CAD a night it’s equivalent to any Japanese hostel but with better beds.


Kyoto yet again proved to be one of my favourite cities to visit, and tagging off the capsule experience just made it even more satisfying.

*I’ve also always wondered if we made it onto Japanese TV.