The Karomajong Region
Set on a large plateau between the mountains of Sudan and the Eastern Rift escarpment of Kenya, Karamoja has been the home of a proudly unique people still surviving as pastoralists. The climate is dry and windswept, but reveals beautiful panoramas, sunsets over the mountain peaks and amazingly starry nights.
Culture and Activities
The colorful blankets, piercings and beads they wear, as well as the language and other cultural traits of the Karimajong set them apart from other tribes in Uganda. These differences and the cattle raiding that is practiced across the border in Kenya has been a source of tension in the region.
Karamoja remains one of the least developed areas and one which few tourists venture into. Safety was once a serious issue, but things have calmed down significantly in recent years encouraging visits the regional capital, Moroto and Kidepo Valley National Park. Those interested in a cultural scene reminiscent of the American Wild West will want to head to Kotido for the Wednesday morning cattle market.
Kalongo and Father Ambrosoli
Kalongo is a small and relatively unknown town in Northern Uganda with a fascinating history centering around the local medical clinic and its founder.
In February 1956, Father Giuseppe Ambrosoli was sent to Kalongo to be of service at a small dispensary with limited capacities. In only a few years, he was able to transform the Kalongo clinic into a modern medical facility with 345 beds capable of providing a range of medical services to the local population and in particular more vulnerable such as women and children. During those years, Father Ambrosoli carried out intensive work for lepers revolutionizing the method of care. He was at the same time the surgeon, midwife, radiologist and pediatrician, and sometime even the manual laborer.
The 1987 civil war that raged through the northern districts of Uganda led to the forced evacuation of the hospital by the army, who gave 24 hours to Father Ambrosoli to clear the hospital and take away the sick.
On 13 February, a convoy of 34 vehicles departed Kalongo carrying medical staff (including 23 Italian citizens), 1.500 soldiers and civilians, 150 patients, and many students, whilst behind them columns of smoke rose from the hospital as supplies and medicine were burnt to avoid them falling into the hands of the rebels.
After securing a future for the midwifery school in which he had believed so strongly, Father Giuseppe died in Lira on 27 March 1987.
Father Ambrosoli's three decades of missionary work in Uganda were showed his dedication to the mission. After his death the cause of beatification was begun and is still in progress.
The hospital was rebuilt and is today owned and operated by the regional Archdiocese and is very worth while to visit. Even though the civil war has ended, the economy and the medical care in this area are in constant need of improvement.
Because of Kalongo's excellent location at the foothills of Mount Oret, AVSI and Matoke Tours have partnered to train local hiking guides, thereby encouraging local development through tourism.