Backpack Journalism at Creighton University is a collaboration between the Theology Department and the Journalism, Media, & Computing Department. It came about because of a theologian interested in social justice and filmmaking and a journalist and an artist interested in filmmaking and social justice.
Each summer, a small group of students travels to a community in search of a story. Led by professors Dr. John O’Keefe, Tim Guthrie, and Carol Zuegner, the students immerse themselves in the communities, interviewing, filming, recording, and writing. When they return to Creighton, they take the stories they have collected and develop them into a short documentary film. The Backpack Journalism documentaries have been accepted at several film festivals, including the Omaha Film Festival. The class has traveled to such far-flung places as the Dominican Republic and Uganda, Bethel Alaska and Nogales Arizona/Sonora. The next project is tentatively planned for Northern Uganda in 2018.
Several of my fellow classmates have already written amazing blogs about water, so the concept might be hard to live up to, but I will give it a shot.
Going from watching women and children walking alongside busy roads with a jug of water on top of their head to standing in front of the roaring falls at Murchison was slightly hard to comprehend. How are these people spending almost their entire day walking to and from water sources which are most likely unsafe and dangerous to drink from, when something so grand and beautiful like Murchison falls exists?
The waters of the Nile River are infested with hundreds of different parasites which can be fatal to humans. But looking at these waters with my own eyes did not disgust me or have me worrying too much about the parasites. All I could see were miles and miles of gentle waves and a thin fog above the misty foam on the surface. The waters made me calm, collected, and just like the starry night sky, were a reminder of just how large and awe-inspiring the nature of the world can be.
On one of our bus rides, it began to rain. I now watched those same women and children walk through the rain water, with their jugs of water, through windows splattered with the water of raindrops. Water was everywhere, but yet it is still a precious commodity. I think it is important to recognize the vulnerability and fragility of water as well as realize its power and influence in both nature and humanity.
It’s crazy to think that a girl like me had the opportunity to travel all the way from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to see the magnificent Murchison Falls in Uganda. Even stranger is the fact that someplace across the world could remind me so much of home.
We went at the perfect time. Earlier in the day we had taken a boat cruise down the Nile toward the bottom of Murchison Falls. Now it was evening and the sun was barely as high as the mountainous terrain. The sky was starting to fill out with dark clouds – threatening a perfect African sunset.
I was terrified. Yes, terrified because of the tsetse flies (which conveniently inhabit a large portion of mid-continental Africa and carry various nasty tropical diseases) swarming our bus on our trek to the top of Murchison Falls. And if the fact that these things carry less than desirable diseases wasn’t enough to scare you, they were conveniently immune to any amount of bug spray I had been careful enough to douse myself in. But clearly Murchison Falls was worth the threat of disease.
Lucky for us, the tsetse flies weren’t too fond of the misty air surrounding the rapids. And the view — indescribably beautiful. And if the mist from the falls wasn’t enough to keep the tsetse flies away, the rain that came down shortly after our arrival at the top of the falls was sufficient. It was the perfect set-up for the perfect picture of how ironically beautiful a place can be even after not too distant parts of the country had seen years of violent war, hunger, poverty and death.
For some opportunistic baboons in Uganda, there is such a thing as a free lunch.
Or a lunch snatched from the window of a van while its passengers waited for a ferry to cross the Nile in the Murchison Falls Game Park.
Baboons typically live near water and near a forested and savannah-like area. They are crafty, as evidenced by the thief that reached inside a white van to get a bag full of biscuits and snacks. The baboons wait, sometimes near
humans, as cars, trucks and buses line up for a ferry across the Nile in Murchison Falls National Park.
In Uganda, baboons also inhabit an area near a bridge over the Nile. Here, they wait at road’s edge for passers-by to offer some food. A bunch of bananas and the banana peels proved popular with adult and baby baboons
The baboon is very adaptable, according to the Primate Info Net of the University of Wisconsin. Baboons live in troops made up of several males and females. The female mother will carry the infant baboon underneath her for several months, then the infant will ride jockey-style on her back for up to 10 to 12 months.