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.


Muzungus on Parade.

We’re terribly sorry that we haven’t been able to update sooner, but to say we are busy would be a huge understatement. The last six days have been some of the longest of my life, and yet this week has flown by. Africa is a dream. The sky and the clouds just seem bigger here, and the thunderstorms are much more impressive. Never in my life have I been surrounded by so much green. It’s absolutely everywhere! We’re very much in love with Uganda. It’s welcoming, breathtakingly beautiful, relaxed, bustling, frustrating, challenging, and so much more incredible than we’d anticipated. I already have a list going of things I’ve experienced that I never have before and never really thought I would.

A few of these include:
-getting water from the Nile river and carrying it in a 30 lb. jug half a mile uphill
-brushing my teeth from a water bottle
-eating a fried grasshopper (not nearly as scary as you’d imagine)
-seeing cows/goats/pigs etc. roaming the front yards of small village houses
-living within a barbed wire compound
-having an ex-military & current Manchester United super-fan guard our house with a rather large gun
-waking up to a shrieking pig’s last words from the pork joint next door
-planting corn on a large plot of land smack in the middle of the jungle
-using my feet to mix adobe
-sorting out rotten raisons for a bakery

Another useful list I’ve compiled relates to birds I have heard, including:
-the bird that sounds like a monkey
-the bird that sounds like a baby crying
-the bird that sounds like an angry old woman
-the bird that sounds like a mechanical device gone wrong

I suppose it would make more sense to start at the beginning of this week, when we woke up at 6:30 to make the hour and a half drive to a village called Jugoba/Juboba/Jugobo or something to that extent. Two thirds of that drive was on an unpaved glorified bike path which gave the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland a serious run for its money. As we had 16 people packed in our taxi van, there were a few bruises to the head from bumps, but the scenery made it worth it. The morning mist rising over the greens of the hills and valleys and trees of Africa is something everyone should experience. One thing that should be well established is that wherever we go, we are Muzungus on parade. Muzungu means white person, and as we walk by houses and shop fronts in town children run alongside us and wave, yelling “bye Muzungu, bye Muzungu!” It’s adorable, and we can’t quite figure out why they only say bye. The further we got onto the village roads, the more and more smiles and waves we got from adults as well. The project we were doing was to help out a couple that has worked with HELP international for years. They run an orphanage and a women’s group as well as a village outreach program, and we had asked to help out with a health clinic they were building in the village. Once the small clinic is complete, it will be an easily accessible place in the community where sick people limited by lack of transportation can be tested and given basic treatment or medication. As soon as we got there we were put to work helping to lay floors. Nicole and I shoveled dirt and pushed about 20 wheelbarrow loads across the site, and then we had our first experience with carrying gallons of water up a steep, narrow, jungle pathway. After four hours we switched to working on a food security garden kept up by the village. And by working on a garden I mean we walked up and down nearly a hundred rows of crops planting corn. It was a wonderful, educational, exhausting, and very dirty and tiring experience. A bucket shower and an early bedtime were much needed.

Manual labor isn’t exactly where we have the advantage (in fact we looked quite foolish), so spending all of Tuesday meeting with partner organizations to discuss our capabilities and their desires for our involvement was even more productive. First we met with the director of a secondary school called Mukono Town Academy who was very excited about working with their children in various areas. Then Nicole went to a meeting with the District health officer and I went to a no-show meeting at a woman’s vocational training center. We’ve quickly learned that punctuality is not a Ugandan priority. Luckily we are quite flexible. Our next meeting was with the woman and her husband that I mentioned earlier. We’re so excited about the projects she has for us to work on. We then walked along the pathways in the valleys of Mukono town to Crane Preparatory Academy, a high risk primary school that homes over 50 orphans and 500 other poverty-stricken children. All schools are on holiday right now, but we got to meet some of the orphans that are living there right now and they we so great! They even sang a song for us and laughed generously at our attempts to speak scattered Lugandan.
Wednesday we drove out to Ginja, a town on the bank of the Nile, and helped to build an adobe stove at a school there. The cook for the school was there and despite only knowing a few words in English, she could not say thank you enough. She currently works all day in a small smoke-filled room, and as soon as the stove is complete, that smoke will be directed outdoors through a pipe chimney that will hopefully greatly improve her health. We moved 300 bricks assembly-line style and hauled even more water, this time even a longer walk uphill but getting water straight from the Nile, while children floated past yelling at us and a fairly large snake swam past at an alarming rate. Then I helped stomp around in a pile of dirt, clay, grass, and water to mix up the adobe. Meanwhile Nicole flung adobe between the bricks so well that she was granted the honor of no longer being a Muzungu. Perhaps it also had to do with how entirely covered with mud we were. When we got home exhausted and sunburned, we just had enough time to wet-wipe our legs and arms and change out of our dirt covered clothes and walk to a meeting with another man who has his own village outreach foundation.
Thursday we had another round of meetings and worked on proposals for potential projects. We also got to visit the bakery of a family we will be working with and somehow ended up sorting raisons for a very long time. It was another great day with a lot of walking. Also, I experienced my first boda boda ride! It was great until right at the end when a very large bus came inches from running us over. Don’t worry mom, we dodged it well!

We have a lot going on, and we’re trying our hardest to
get things up and running so we can get started on our projects. Nicole and I both somehow ended up on house cleaning committee, and we have made a world class chore chart. Activities committee has announced that our first Friday night movie night will be the Lion King. Only fitting. We’re thrilled! We’re also hot, sweaty, dirty, and loving life. The food is surprisingly wonderful, though we are still eating through our granola bars far too quickly. And in case we haven’t mentioned it enough, the country is gorgeous.
 working tirelessly on the chore chart.
We miss you all, but time is flying by and we’re loving our experience so far!

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