This is a long overdue quick summary and catch up of the last few days of my trip to Uganda just over a month ago. I will do better in the future, including on my maiden voyage to India later this week for a global justice trip.
During the January Uganda trip, the goal was to get a few things rolling and to plan for the ambitious summer we have waiting for us. As part of our ongoing efforts to assist Uganda in delivering justice to those detained and awaiting trial, we are in the midst of helping them launch a public defender system, pursuant to which all detainees would be guaranteed access to a lawyer shortly after arrest. In the developed world, such access is hardwired into the system. Not so much in the developing world.
Thursday (January 19th) was a day of meetings about the public defender project, plea bargaining advancements, and the upcoming anti-trafficking conference we are hosting in Uganda. We started out at the home of the Chief Justice, where we discussed all of the above, plus our plans for a Women in Leadership conference this summer (which is coming together nicely).
We then moved to the office of the Commissioner General of Prisons, who was quite animatedly excited about how plea bargaining was decongesting his prisons. He insisted on having a speaking role at this summer’s national plea bargaining conference, and further reported that in his role as president of the African Jailer’s Association, he has been spreading the word about the success in Uganda around Africa.
The day closed with a dinner with John Richmond (Human Trafficking Institute), Kelsey Galaway (Willow International), and Moses Binoga (head of Uganda’s Anti-Trafficking Task Force) to plan the two-day conference this summer.
On Friday, Henry took a bus to Kampala from Bushenyi, where he is in his second semester of his third year of medical school. He is thriving, and it was so good to be with him and his younger brother Joseph, who is in his second semester of law school. As depicted in my book Divine Collision, I met these wrongly accused brothers in January of 2010 when they were teenaged prisoners wasting away in a juvenile detention center. I could not be more proud of the men they are becoming. We spent much of Friday together, and Saturday morning before John Richmond and I headed to Jinja to meet up with a friend.
At the Source Café, I ate something so life changing, so “Who’s Your Daddy?” that I temporarily forgot the identity of the man who sired and raised me. It was that good.
The trip home on Saturday and Sunday was nearly 42 hours due to weather delays. It is good to be home. I did, however, leave behind something in Uganda that will remind them of me – during the month of June, the entire judiciary structure will be looking at my mug every day, and they will be admiring our students for the month of July.