Winston Churchill called it the Pearl of Africa. All we know is that the people of Uganda have been occupying our minds and hearts for months now, and we are beyond excited to live with them and serve them for 9 weeks this summer! If you want to be a part of what we're doing, you're in the right place.

5.20.2010

all things considered.

Life is busy and great. A lot of our projects will take a week or two to get up and running, so we aren’t out and about as much as we will be soon, but there’s still a lot of research and preparation to do. All the schools are still on holiday until Monday, but after that there are three or four schools that we will be working with in the afternoons to help with art, music/dance/drama, and sports programs. Teachers are extremely enthusiastic about improving these programs, and we are working on curriculum to work self-awareness and health trainings into these times as well. Also, we’ll be helping out with reading programs and working with students who are behind on reading. According to the head teacher of one school, that’s the vast majority of the students. We met with a school that homes 330 orphans and high-risk children and doesn’t even have a water source near their school. It’s incredibly sad to see, but we got to meet some of the kids and their smiles and enthusiasm make me so excited for what we can do. A lot of schools and groups need funds. Largely because Nicole and I were so successful with fundraising, we actually have a lot more money for projects than HELP teams in the past. However, we’re trying to make that go as far as we can with the biggest impact, and in many cases I like it better that we can say we don’t have a lot of money but we want to get involved and help out their programs as much as we can. I think that sort of involvement will be so much more beneficial than just donating supplies here and there. We also have a couple of big projects that are going to be starting up really soon that I’m really excited about. We met with the District Education Officer regarding a festival type project that we’re going to be doing with 10+ high risk primary schools. I’ll describe that in more detail when we get it planned more concretely, but it’s basically going to involve teachers and upper level students to plan a large one day festival at each of the schools with rotating stations to teach elementary level kids about health, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, life skills, and environmental education, and it’ll have a reading theater booth to get kids excited about reading. We’ll also have an art/performance/writing competition in the weeks leading up to the festival to get them involved in those things as well. It has a lot of logistical issues to work out, but I’m really excited about it and that’s what I’m putting most of my effort into right now because we want to get it off the ground next week when the kids go back to school. Also I’m part of the team planning the eye and dental camps that we raised money for through tipping bucket, and we’re planning a four day trip up north sometime in the next month to do research for TOMS shoes. Nicole spent all day Tuesday in Lugazi and a village called Kiyendi evaluating the current status of the women’s groups there. She went on many taxi rides with over twenty-one people in one vehicle and a few live chickens running around under her feet. The wild rides fulfilled her rollercoaster cravings and she is looking forward to heading back up there next week. She’s leading the group that will put on a community football (soccer, for all you Americans) tournament to gather the families of the village for HIV/AIDS trainings and counseling. We are so sneaky. The village is on the shores of Lake Victoria, which Nicole says is absolutely gorgeous. Luckily, we both get to go evaluate another school near the lake this Saturday, so I will also be able to experience the sights of Lake Victoria. All of that is keeping us pretty busy. It’s hot and sweaty and the sun is insane. I think rainy season may have finally given up on us. Also, we are becoming quite talented at navigating our way around Mukono, and we take great pride in that.

On Sunday afternoon, our team was invited to the town council meeting for Nasuuti (that’s our neighborhood). It was… interesting. We were presented to town leaders and welcomed to the neighborhood, which was extremely kind of them, but then we ended up listening to an hour long speech by the head of security. Or sechurity, as it’s pronounced here. It was in Lugandan, although with the help of translators we were able to make out something about a dog from Germany who sniffs out thieves and some jokes that had the crowd in hysterics and left us a bit confused. The language barrier. Always such a mood killer. It was a beautiful evening though and we enjoyed ourselves.

Describing our team as great doesn’t quite do it justice. I’ve never been surrounded by so many brilliant, insightful, hardworking, and hilarious people. Constantly throughout the day I find myself learning something new or in pain from laughing so hard. They’re wonderful. We really lucked out.
In other news, we got a table and a book shelf made and constructed a makeshift couch out of extra mattress pads, so our house is becoming more like home by the day! We’re thinking of acquiring some chickens to house in the small chicken coop in the backyard, and at our Monday night meeting we voted to adopt a goat to live in the front yard and trim our lawn. We’re utterly thrilled! I think the two will be a welcome distraction from the sound of pigs being beheaded at the pork joint next door. Had to witness that walking home church on Sunday and it was not pleasant.

Lois has come to play twice since we last updated. Have we told you about Lois? She’s our cook Edith’s daughter and she has the energy of about ten 4 year olds her size. Sometimes this results in violent jumping onto people. Sometimes it leads to mad dancing or singing. Always it leads to chaos. Lois is our favorite.

In the past week we’ve had a birthday celebration and two mission calls in the team, which meant two nights of cake from the bakery owned by a family we are working with on a few projects. The first night was chocolate, which was delightful, but the second night we ended up with the Ugandan standard raison cake that makes me a little nervous ever since we spent an hour last Thursday sorting good raisons from bad and killing the hundreds of bugs in between. Oh well, I’m keeping optimistic with the thought that they wash the raisons before baking them into cake and that any leftover bugs would be killed in the oven regardless. Yummy. Soon I’ll start making grasshopper muffins. I mentioned last time that we each ate a grasshopper last week, right? It was fairly not bad all things considered.

Something that is fairly bad? Doing laundry. Nicole and I spent yesterday morning cleaning our filthy clothes supply with the remains of a bucket of detergent and a withering bar of soap in some water buckets. It was quite the long painful experience, though it left us with stronger arms and uncannily clean hands. The real problem was getting them to dry on the line in 80something% humidity. Oh well, another life experience to cross off the list! Life is good, all things considered.


P.S. A round of applause for Nicole, who had her first latrine experience today. There was a moment when she lost her balance and there were loud noises that made me worry for her safety, but thankfully she survived and is alive and well!

1 comment:

Grandpa B. said...

Very impressive and wonderful work you are doing. Look forward to your next report.