Hell on Earth

Last week, while in Gulu Uganda, we needed gravel (aggregate) for our concrete mix.  We had rented a truck and our driver took us to the local supplier.  The source was a large rock (probably granite) outcrop.  All around women, children, and a few men were breaking large chunks of granite into a smaller size appropriate for concrete and other uses.  This was accomplished using small metal hammers.  The day was an inferno and the humidity was high.  Some quarry workers had found a little shade; some just worked in the hot blazing sun.

Conditions at the quarry were terrible.  And I’m sure the pay is pathetic.  To see children as young as three busting rocks was beyond depressing.  The rock busters were paid by the bucket load.  There had to be well over 200 individuals doing this backbreaking work, approximately half were children.

Our truck was also filled by hand.  With women and children hefting buckets of aggregate into the truck while two ladies kept our load uniformly flat.

I’ve now seen hell, and boy is this world fu@ked up.

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4 Responses to Hell on Earth

  1. Roger Hansen says:

    On my second trip to the gravel pit, I decided to take fruit juice for the laborers. In Gulu, I purchased 96 cartons of juice (4 boxes of 24 cartpms each). After the quarry workers had finished loading our truck with aggregate, I attempted to pass out the juice. The distribution of the first box of 24 went reasonably well. But halfway through the second box, things started to unravel. I had started a minor riot. I was mobbed, and equitable distribution became impossible. The juice idea turned into a disaster. The road to hell is lined with good intentions.

  2. Roger Hansen says:

    The next day after visiting the Gulu quarry, I decided to go swimming in the pool of a crosstown, high-end hotel (the Acholi Inn). The shower in my hotel room wasn’t working well and after 5 days, I needed to get really clean.

    When I arrived at the Acholi Inn, I was the only one in the pool area. It felt great to have a long shower and an invigorating swim. I was clean again, at least for a little while. About the time I was ready to quit swimming, a group of about 40 African children (ages 3 and 4) invaded the pool area. I watched them learning to swim, jumping into the pool (and on each other), horsing around, and, of course, crying. I couldn’t help but contrast the present and future lives of these children compared with those of the children working at the rock quarry.

  3. Roger Hansen says:

    While at the quarry, two ladies working there brought their young babies over to check me out. The babies would take one look at me and start crying. This would cause nearby workers to laugh. One lady explained to me that they don’t see a lot of whites at the quarry.

  4. Pingback: Exploring Developing Countries | Tired Road Warrior

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