A trip to the quarry, in photos

Posted: December 9, 2007 in Blog

 On the eastern outskirts of Kampala, some 10,000 people from Northern Uganda have formed a community. Over two decades of war in the north, they sought refuge here, at the site of a stone quarry where most of them work for less than a dollar a day crushing stones for construction.

Myself and a reporter friend went out there Saturday with another friend to do stories on these people. With tentative peace in the north, the government and international organizations have dedicated significant resources to getting people out of the camps and back to their homes. But no similar program has been put in place for those who fled to urban areas instead of the camps. So while so many are returning home, thousands continue to work so cheaply that they cannot afford the bus trip back north.

Here are some pictures from our day in the quarry.

Irene Abalo, 11, in the quarry

This is 11-year old Irene Abalo. She has been working in the quarries alongside her 25-year old mother (wearing black in the background) for three years. Their family fled the north in 2003 because of rebel violence and have been here in the quarries ever since.

Woman’s hand from working in the quarries

Most of the women’s hands are thickly calloused with broken finger nails and cracked skin.

Kid in the quarry

Many of the women bring their children to the quarry with them because there is no one at home to look after them. With so many steep ledges and falling rock, they said there is a constant fear that the children will be hurt or killed.


This is George Lajul. He is 57 years old and has been working in the quarry since 1993 when he fled the rebel fighting in northern Uganda. He tried going home once but had to flee again because of the fighting. He cuts the rock out of the quarry by hand and then transports it to a pile. His goal is to make the pile big enough to earn him 5,000 shillings a day (or about $3).

George’s pile of rocks

This is George dumping a load of rocks onto his pile. This photo was taken at about 5:30 p.m. So the large red rocks you see are his day’s work. He was about two-thirds of his way towards having a pile big enough to earn him 5,000 shillings.


A reporter friend of mine interviewing Milly about life in the quarry.

Popcorn girl

On the day we were there, an NGO had organized a Christmas party for kids in the village. All the kids were given a bag of popcorn. Most ate it immediately but this young girl hid hers under a bowl so she could enjoy it later on.





  1. Trish says:

    These are gorgeous pictures, Chris — and it looks and sounds like a very good story.

  2. Pete says:

    I meant to write this earlier, but you are unearthing some amazing stuff Chris. Everytime I visit the blog there’s always something fascinating.

    The pictures in the quarry certainly tell the story.

    Thanks for sharing all your adventures with us.

  3. […] 12, 2007 · No Comments This story ran in today’s paper, following my trip to the stone quarry on Saturday. I’m working on follow-up pieces detailing government/UN policies on resettling […]

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