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!


remember that time we almost went to Africa?

After living in the Heathrow airport for seven hours, Jessica and I met up with members of our team to board the plane to Uganda. We were thrilled. Sadly, the plane was not nearly as excited, for it would not start. After sitting on the runway for three hours, we were put on a bus to be shipped to another plane, but then the airport in Entebbe informed our captain that we would not be able to land if we left now since the runway would be closed. British Airways decided to reward us with vouchers for a hotel and food and our flight would then depart at the same time the following day.
 By this time it was four in the morning, and our bodies were extremely confused as to what time it was so Jessica and I collapsed in our hotel and slept all day. All of this confusion and chaos was deemed acceptable after we realized we would be able to take another one last hot shower. Heavenly!
We finally departed from our lovely Heathrow airport and were on our way to Uganda at last! Jessica was fortunate enough to sleep the entire flight, whereas I was wide awake for the entire seven hour flight. Watching the sunrise over the continent of Africa was one of the most beautiful and exciting things I have ever experienced in my life.
As soon as we landed, the humidity hit us like a wall. Jessica and I have never been so sweaty in our entire lives. Amazingly enough, none of our luggage was lost! It was a miracle. Uganda is beautiful! I will try my best to describe it, but honestly, my words will not do it justice:
Uganda is the greenest place I have ever seen. Everywhere you turn there are rolling hills covered in jungle. The sky seems bigger here and the clouds are unreal. The daily rain makes the jungle seem even more vibrant with the greens against the grays. But don’t let the words “rainy season” fool you into thinking its pleasantly cool here, it’s still over 80 degrees with 100% humidity everyday, and when the sun comes out, it fries you. That’s when it feels a little bit like home.
After being greeted at the airport by monkeys in the trees and one taxi van for luggage and another for humans, we packed in to head to our new home. The drive from Entebbe, through Kampala, to Mukono town was crazy to say the least. From what we could gather, there are very few traffic laws, and taxis and boda bodas speed by passing at their whim. Jessica thinks she would be really great at it. I can’t decide if I am excited or concerned about riding one. I don’t have the greatest history with riding motor bikes, just ask my family. Luckily, I don’t have to drive.
After our hour of dodging traffic and moving our backpacks to the middle of the taxi so no one would reach through the window and grab them, we arrived in Mukono! Mukono is very different that I imagined. The center of town is much more developed than I had thought, with its bustling vendors and busy marketplace. But when I say developed, I mean that in a very rural, third world sense. There are places in Mukono that are extremely poverty stricken and even worse than I could picture. Mukono is very difficult to describe. Every store front is a different bright color and all of the townspeople are outside all the time! It’s chaotic, yet relaxed. To sum up my feelings on Mukono: I am in love with it, all of it, and I am so excited to spend the next eight weeks here.

Our house is beautiful! We live in a compound with a ten foot wall covered in razor wire to keep out intruders. But the best part of our house is our guard David (Jessica and I only call him “our guard David,” it’s his official title). He is the greatest and I’m pretty sure he used to be a ninja. Edith our cook is also incredible! She is the sweetest thing and she creates such delicious meals for us. She has made the transition into Ugandan food a pleasant experience. Speaking of the food, it is so good! We eat a lot of vegetables and starchy foods such as potatoes, mutoke, and pojo(?). I am obsessed with the unlimited amounts of avocado. And the pineapple…don’t even get me started. We share a room with four other girls and we already adore them. Our three sets of bunk beds are covered in mosquito netting so it makes us feel like princesses in canopy beds. Not. But we are grateful for them and their protection against Malaria. Our team is incredible and very enthusiastic about serving the people of Mukono, so I know that we will do incredible things this summer.