Sunday, November 28, 2010

TIA - This is Africa

Some things I’ve learned in Uganda:

In America, we often say “time is money,” but in Uganda, it’s more common to say “eh, there is always time!” I think I like the Ugandan philosophy better.

Carrying a 20L jerry can of water on your head is hard. Really hard. Carrying 10L is easier, but only slightly.

Children are a lot stronger than me, and therefore end up doing a whole lot more work than me. For example, if I don’t want to carry the 20L jerry can of water back from the bore hole (see above about it being really hard), a Ugandan woman will often yell “boy!” at the nearest child and commandeer his bicycle to take back our water. What if the child doesn’t have a bicycle? Well then, he will go fetch one.

Kerosene lamps can burn. Oww.

As the only white person in my town, I often get overcharged for everything. A Ugandan friend told me that I should say: “Eh seebo! You are putting me in an oversized shoe!” when this happens.

My current favorite Uganda song goes likes this: O baby, oli vitamin. Omusuja gunuma. Oli chloroquine. Which translates to: O baby, you are my vitamin. I am suffering from malaria. You are my chloroquine.

ttfn - ta ta for now! :) 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Officially a PCV!

So I know this update is super long overdue, but keeping a blog has become increasingly more difficult without electricity!

A lot has happened since I’ve last written, so I’ll try to summarize the past month or so as best I can.

Our last week in Wakiso concluded with a party thanking all of our homestay families for hosting us these past two months. As part of the festivities, each language group presented some form of entertainment that demonstrated what they had learned about Uganda during training and also shared something about America for the Ugandans present. Some of the Ugandan entertainment included traditional songs and dance. For the American component, groups performed things like the chicken dance, the YMCA dance, and taught the group how to make rice crispy treats. My language group tried (not so-successfully) to sing the Busoga anthem and then sang (more successfully) the 50 state song. In addition, I was asked about 5 minutes before the program started to lead the group in the national anthem, since somehow word got around that I enjoyed singing…sheesh

After leaving Wakiso, we all gathered at the Peace Corps office in Kampala to get the official tour and get some books from the library (yay!) Then we went to a hotel outside of the city where we spent our final week of training, which consisted mostly of workshops introducing us and our supervisors/counterparts to expectations for the next two years.

The week ended with the official swearing in ceremony at the ambassador’s home where we officially became Peace Corps Volunteers. The ceremony included fabulous speeches by two volunteers (both from my fabulous language group!), the country director, and the ambassador. I had also found out the previous day that traditionally, the volunteer who sings the national anthem for the homestay thank you also sings at the swearing in….not sure how I got roped into all that hehe.

All the new PCVs

The above mentioned fabulous Lusoga language group!

We were told that we were indeed a unique training class (something we already knew!) because all 45 of us made it through training and became volunteers – usually a few trainees go home during training for various reasons. I have high hopes of seeing the entire group still here at in service training in 3 months!

The next day, all of us new volunteers departed for our sites…well, except for me. There was a snag with the paperwork and housing with my organization and Peace Corps, so I instead traveled to another volunteer’s site. Thankfully, she is an AWESOME person and friend (from, of course, my awesome language group), so we had a fabulous week and half together, where I helped her settle into her new home.

Finally, I did arrive at my site only about a week and half late, and now I’m settling into my home for the next two years.

My new house!

So far, my house has a bed, a tall cooking table, and 4 chairs. Other than that, I’m attending some meetings with the district health office staff, such as planning meetings for upcoming mass polio immunization campaigns, observing the immunization and HIV clinics at the health center, getting to know the town, and adjusting to life without electricity (I go to bed very early and read lots of books…)

I’ll try and update again when I can.

ttfn – ta ta for now!