All posts by Matthew Dorwart

The Last Hurrah

I was looking at some quotes online to answer the question “what is peace/justice?” I found a great one from Harrison Ford, which is awesome because I love Harrison Ford. (When I was little, I would run around my neighborhood pretending to be Indiana Jones and Han Solo…and also Macgyver, but that’s another story) So, when I came across this quote and realized that it was perfect for the topic, I was giddy.

“Peace is not the absence of war but the presence of justice.” 

This quote is perfect to me. As bad as every Miss America contestant wants it, I believe “world peace” is unattainable. The world will always have war within it. Even though it is sad to thing about it but it is true. But the world can find peace through justice. Africa is the perfect example of this. Nearly everyone we talked to in Uganda said peace cannot be attained without justice. 

According to a dictionary justice means to be fair or reasonable. This definition basically sums it up perfectly. However, justice should not stop there. Justice also means more than that. It is not just a one time thing. Justice must be carried out everyday, all the time. Especially in Africa.

If you asked me if I thought Uganda was a just place prior to my visit I would have said yes. According to all the travel sites and webpages I had read, Uganda seemed like a fantastic place. But now that I have seen what I have seen, I believe Uganda is far from that. It still was a great place, I loved all the people I met. But it is far from a just place. The government is very corrupt and nearly all the money stays in the south. I know there are needy people everywhere but the people of the north need all the help they can and should get. They deserve it.

To them peace would be not having to live in fear everyday or not worrying if their children will be taken in the middle of the night or being able to provide their family with food and shelter. But that peace cannot be attained without JUSTICE.  

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog as much as I enjoyed writing it. Africa was incredible and I will never forget any part of it. Thank you for reading and I also thank you for putting up with my lame sense of humor and bad jokes. Once again, my classmates had some great blogs and you should check them out. And I know you all want one more Dumb and Dumber link so here it is.  Haha got ya. 

Yours Truly

Matthew W. Dorwart

PS You can’t triple stamp a double stamp

My classmates are a lot better at editing than I am

So recently I have realized that I am kinda, sorta not as good at editing as I originally thought. So no Oscar for me. Luckily, I have attached myself to a group that has three really good editors, Bridget, Hannah, and Aurelia. I just sit quietly and do whatever they tell me. I hope they don’t resent me too much because of it. 

Although class is a solid 7 hours a day and is pretty exhausting, the days go rather quickly. But because I am not as busy as other students, I have had some time to think. This whole experience, Africa and the class, has been completely new to me. Never before have I written blogs or done any sort of journalistic writing. Never before have I been talking with survivors of a horrible act of violence. Never before have I stood on a rock 5 feet from the Nile river (but really how many people can say that?) It has been great, every part of it. I have learned how to do things that I never thought I would do. I was watching a documentary on TV and was critiquing it. I had never thought that I would be doing that. Just small things like that make me think of how lucky I am.

I also now look at things in a different light. I was driving back to Omaha from my grandparents house in Iowa this weekend and was stuck behind a semi truck going 40mph for about an hour or so. I am not gonna say I didn’t get mad because I got more upset than when Lloyd found out Petey’s head fell off. But I then thought about how only 2 weeks before I was driving on a “road” in Africa that seemed more like a dirt bike track. And even though that truck was really dragging down my mood I had to think about the people who are forced to walk 10 miles to go to the store. And that calmed me down a bit. So now even if I think my life is in the pits, it is actually much, much better than 97% of the world.

Yours Truly

Matthew W. Dorwart

PS I am very happy to be riding my moped again (yeah that’s right, I have a moped), and I think that I could drive it on the streets in Africa… and live to tell about it.  

 

Back to the States

We made it back. After a horrible experience in the Entebbe Airport in Uganda and a day of flying we made it back. I am still tired from it all. 

So as I have said many times before, I need an exit row to make flying tolerable at all. And I was able to get it on all the flights to Uganda very easily with no problems. So going back should be no different right? Wrong, very wrong. For starters, inside the Airport was hotter than outside the airport. Then an employee decided that she would check us in by herself, neglecting the fact that there were 17 of us. Needless to say that took about 25 minutes longer than it ever should have. Then we still had to go fully check our bags in and get our seats. My time to shine, exit row time. I began to talk to the guy and he informs me that I have to pay 75 dollars to get the exit row. Wait, what? I argued it as much as I could but sadly to no avail. So I reluctantly handed my credit card over to him. He then told me he had to run it up to the office to run it through manually. Wait, what? #2. So I am left to stand in 95 degree stagnant air with Carol and Tim for about an hour. (Thanks for waiting!) THEN, we had to wait to get through a passport check or something, I don’t really know, I was kinda zoned out. All I know is that the line moved slower than any line I have ever been in. (Okay, maybe a little dramatic). THENN, we had to go through another set of metal detectors in order to get to the gate, 5 minutes before the plane began to board. Whew!

So even though I paid 75 dollars, I didn’t get an exit row for every flight. So I needed to work my magic (aka plead with other passengers to trade me). Luckily a very nice woman traded seats with me so I could sit in comfort for another 8 hours. After we went through customs in Minneapolis (you betcha!), I saw and heard a beautiful thing. A group of guys singing the National Anthem. I was definitely proud to be an American. I gave a fist pump and gave Chase a high five.

We then went on to Omaha, aka my 2nd Homaha, and I slept for basically the rest of the weekend. Its good to be back, but it was definitely sad to leave because I hate goodbyes. Africa was a great experience. I loved it. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend 2 weeks. 

Yours Truly

Matthew W. Dorwart

PS Thanks for following us on our journey. Keep checking out the website for pictures and place features!

 

The Great White Hunter

Murchison Falls was sweet. The power of nature was on full display (the entire Nile river gets compressed down to travel through rocks that are about 20 feet across). The boat cruise on the Nile was sweet. We saw all kinds of Crocs (not the crappy, ugly footwear, but the animal), hippos, elephants and a whole bunch of other happy critters.  We went on a game drive this morning. We were probably 15 feet away from Nala and Simba discussing whether or not Simba should go back to challenge scar. Which was obviously pretty sweet.

On the other hand spending 11 hours on a bus was totally not sweet. After our game drive we drove back down south to Kampala. About 2 hours into our drive to Kampala a battalion of giant flies somehow got into the bus and did what they do best, annoy the hell out of everybody. I was hot, tired, suffering from a bout of restless leg syndrome, and now incredibly annoyed. Something went off in my head and I went Rambo crazy on the flies. I grabbed a brochure and swung away, just like Mel Gibson told me. Humans 1. Flies 0.

I would definitely be lion, I mean lying haha, to you if I said I wasn’t ready to go home. I am super ready. This trip has been great on so many different levels but it has also been incredibly taxing on many levels as well. In roughly 48 short hours I will be on a plane back to Amsterdam, then back to the States. (I know that was a stretch but I couldn’t think of a better way to put a reference in.)

Tomorrow we are going to the sources of the Nile at Jinja and I really hope there are a bunch of red heads running around (Jinja= ginger, yeah I went there). So that should be fun. ……..Well seeya later.  That’s more like it.

Yours Truly

Matthew W. Dorwart

PS  According to our guide on our game drive, elephants can run 60 kilometers per hour. Can somebody get me a fact check on that one?

Chicken Chasing and Diablo Peppers

Things have been much better since Tuesday. The filming has become much less intense and the interviews are all starting to come together. You will have to read my classmates blogs to get a better understanding of the situation. I am still not fully able to express the gravity of the situation in words. I am sorry for that.

Even though we have seen some very bad things we have also met some amazing people. Everyone they meet is incredibly kind and hospitable. They greet us, learn our names, sometimes give us food (more on this in a few inches down the page) and they do it all with a smile.

I do have a couple funny stories to pass along. The other day we were interviewing a Priest at his parish/residence. He had what I would say is a bunch of chickens. Naturally  the roosters decided to walk behind where we were filming and make a whole lot of noise. I was designated as the chicken chaser. I had to make sure that they would stay out of our shot. It certainly was a little harder than it seemed. After a couple times they got organized and came at me with greater numbers. I was able to stop the attack, with the help of Fred. Crisis averted, film project saved, the sun continues to rise.

Another funny story, we were out in literally the middle of nowhere. We drove a great distance to get there, on what I would say is the worst road I have ever seen. But after we got everything done the subjects of our film session had lunch for us. Rice and veggies, it was tasty. But there was one little bottle of red chili peppers. Peter decided to put some on his rice. When he poured them out, it was similar to an avalanche of chili peppers and sauce on his plate. The host started to laugh and he said have fun. Peter wolfed it down pretty quick but he definitely regretted having that many peppers. I didn’t want to be left out on the fun so I sampled a bit of it. God almighty. They were hot. My eyes watered, I got even more sweaty than I already was, and my sinuses became more clear than a Western Nebraska morning. They didn’t have any ketchup and mustard for me to help with it either. (Dumb and Dumber is back!)

We just finished our last day of shooting! We are all really tired but still in good spirits. Off to Muchison Falls tomorrow! But sadly we won’t have any internet connection. I know you will all be very sad and a few may cry but you have to be strong.

Yours Truly

Matthew W. Dorwart

P.s. I can’t think of anything good to put here, so I am just wasting your time by making you read this.

Rough Stuff

Yesterday was a tough one. For starters I woke up at 3:45 in the morning with a really bad stomach ache. So I didn’t eat that much all day. And it was one of the hottest days we have had here. It was also a very very difficult.

We went to a former refugee camp and a site of a massacre by the LRA. I have never seen such desperate and poor people. The stories they told were heart breaking and very difficult to hear. There is really no way I can fully describe the situation.

We brought gifts for the people. I was able to hand out some of the gifts which was great, however it turned out to be a bad situation. The people were so desperate that they began to rush us and the table with the gifts. The people were grabbing for anything they could. We all got out without any harm but we were all pretty shaken.

No one really expected that but we probably should have. Those people had been through so much and continue to face great hardships. When people are desperate they will do anything they can to get what they need.

I would also like to shout out to our driver Fred. He is a great guy and a great driver.

Sorry I had no Dumb and Dumber reference in this blog, but I did have two in a previous post. So you will have to wait.

Yours Truly
Matthew W. Dorwart

PS Can someone tell Coach Bailey that I have been doing my workouts?

28:43:51

Twenty-eight hours, forty-three minutes and fifty-one seconds. That’s how long it took from when we left the gate in Omaha, to when we pulled into the gate in Entebbe. (Doesn’t it seem more dramatic when I write it out?)  Let me tell you, that was exhausting. Thennnn we had a 7 and change hour bus ride to Lira. The world was not made for tall people. Although, I was able to sit in the exit row for all the flights, except from Kigali, Rwanda to Entebbe, Uganda, but still the my legs need an open area to stretch in. They are kinda like Australian Shepherds, they are calm and easy-going but they need some room.  On the short flight from Rwanda to Entebbe I sat near some funny British “chaps.” When I sat down they called me mate and I said ‘ello govna! (not really but I wanted too) I felt like I was part of their group. We chatted the whole time. One man gave me some great quotes that I will work into later blogs. I don’t want to cram them in out of context.

On the bus trip I was given the opportunity to sit in the passenger seat, even though I couldn’t do this (boom one more Dumb and Dumber reference)). Driving in Uganda is just a little different than driving in the good ol’ USA. We had some close calls with the edge of the road and with some other vehicles on the road but I trusted Fred the driver. I enjoyed the front seat because I was able to see the vast wilderness and the great scenery. We saw just about everything you could see: the city, the poverty, the worse poverty, the Presidential “Palace”, baboons, the Nile River,  and the jungle (I couldn’t help but wonder if there where lions sleeping in there).

It was interesting to see the villages we drove through. We were like an attraction (I wonder why?) It seemed that most people stopped what they were doing to look at the big blue bus full of mzungu (white people). Because I was in the passenger seat, I was sort of the ambassador. I was greeted with a lot of smiles and waves. Which got me thinking. How many people in the US would do that?

Well we start filming things tomorrow. We had a great dinner tonight; a bunch of us had our first taste of African beer, Nile Special. It really hit the spot. I will upload some photos when we have faster internet.

Yours truly,

Matthew W. Dorwart

A time of chaos

Every time I get on a plane I think of two movies scenes. One from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (I hope a pilot never says this over the loud speaker) and the other from Dumb and Dumber (Yet another reference, you are gonna get tired of them by the time this trip is over). I always think of these because I am a movie nerd and I quote movies all the time. Thanks to my older brothers and sister, I have been a movie nerd for as long as I can remember.
 
You all can rest assured that I got the exit row for the flight from Omaha to Minneapolis and from Minneapolis to Amsterdam! Thank you to the Delta lady who checked me in! It was a harrowing morning before that however. I was running a bit late, and my roommate Nick was driving me to the airport. We left but halfway there I realized I didn’t know where my phone was and so we went back to our house. I checked all over the place and it was nowhere to be found. I went back to Nick’s car and sure enough it was in the only pocket of my backpack I didn’t check. I was a little late to the airport, okay I was more than a little late, much to the chagrin of our leader John O’Keefe. I was no where near missing the flight but I was late to our designated meeting time. Sorry!
 
The flight to Minneapolis was very short which was nice but now we are all waiting for our next flight at 3:15. A couple of us went to get some lunch and more bad things happened. I spilled the salt! But don’t worry, I took the necessary precaution and threw some over right shoulder. (Yep, you guessed it, another Dumb and Dumber reference) I decided to make my last US meal for two weeks to be a bacon cheeseburger… I couldn’t have made a better decision. 
 
Yours Truly
Matthew W. Dorwart
 
PS Seeya in two weeks US of A. 
 
PPS I will add pictures when I get to Africa 
 
 

 

 

And the Academy Award goes to……

Today we learned how to edit video and all I can say is look out Oscar, I am coming for you! I may be getting ahead of myself a little. I think a Razzie is a little more attainable. Seriously though, when our video teacher Tim Guthrie started talking I was really worried. He was speaking in Swahili or something, I definitely was lost. However, I started to get going and I was (in my head) a natural, kinda like Robert Redford in that movie. Wait, that’s not the right, but you get the idea.
 
If you have read some of my classmates blogs, you will notice that a couple of them have started packing. However, I am not one of them. Should I be at least somewhat packed? Yes, yes I should. Should I maybe at least have thought about packing other than writing this blog post? Yes, yes I should but I work better under pressure (once again probably just in my head).
 
During our lunch break, a couple of us were talking about what we could do to pass the time in the airports for our lay overs. I suggested that we all sit around in a circle and sing Mockingbird. (Yes, I know that I this is the second Dumb and Dumber reference in two blog posts, but there is plenty more where that came from!) But I got turned down. I believe it was Sara Gentzler, who brought up the game Catchphrase. Any time that game get brought up, I just take a trip down memory lane to my family’s epic battles. Typically, on Christmas or other gathering we play some kind of board game and more recently it has been Catchphrase. I don’t mean to brag but I am pretty darn good and thanks to some good teammates (you know who you are) I haven’t lost in a long time.
 
I should probably talk a little more of the trip because after all that is the entire purpose of this blog. All that can really be said though is that I am very, very excited. And I am also getting very nervous.
 
Yours Truly
Matthew W. Dorwart
 
P.S.
Thanks to my Coach Erik Crawford. He gave me a very nice haircut. 

Creighton Backpack Journalism Team: ASSEMBLE!!!!!

Its almost time. I have been looking forward to this trip for a while now. And now it only a few short days, a looooonnnngggg flight and then we are there man. I am most nervous about the flight. Not because I don’t like flying or because I am scared of heights or anything like but because of the fact that I am 6’8″ and planes are not made for me. The exit row is my friend. But I feel have a better chance at finding Bin Ladin (I couldn’t think of a better comparison. And yes I know that Bin Ladin is dead. USA USA USA!) than getting a good seat. But if I do I will be more excited than this kid.

A few years ago I got hooked on the TV show Man vs. Wild with Bear Grylls. I loved the adventures he goes on and I love his name. (Seriously, how sweet is the name Bear?) Ever since then I wanted to be an outdoorsman. This is one reason I think that I was drawn to the allure of Backpack Journalism. When I saw the flyer for this program, I immediately thought of Bear and I running through the wilderness, making campfires, fishing with shoelaces and just generally being awesome. So I was hooked from the beginning.

However, after I found out more about the program and how it wouldn’t be what my mind initially though of, but rather an experience of the peoples of a poor, developing country, I became more hooked. Every person, at least I hope so, has a basic human need to help others. And even though we won’t really be providing that much help to the people of Africa, we will be opening some peoples eyes to what is really going on.  

We have had a number of meetings and we had a pizza party last night, so we have gotten to know each other somewhat well. But I have more than a feeling that we will get to know each other a lot better over the next couple of weeks. I hope that everyone will accept me for my strange and slightly odd self. Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading my blog for the next month or so as much as I will enjoy writing it. And in the words of Toto, lets all bless the rains down in Africa

Yours Truly

Matthew W. Dorwart