Friday, April 6, 2012

Oh, by the way: my new home!

So in all the excitement of the past month, I've forgotten to blog about my new home! I'll admit, I was beginning to think it would never happen. Due to a crazy number of hurdles along the way, it took about 5.5 months to make this move happen.

So what is my new organization? It's called Medical Education Resources Africa (MERA). It's an NGO that, among other things, runs a college of health sciences. Of course, the college isn't yet officially registered, but that doesn't seem to stop students from attending the school anyway.

The new org

Unfortunately, my new organization didn't seem to understand the point of having a Peace Corps Volunteer at first... The job description they sent in with their volunteer application listed a whole host of things that don't quite fall in line with the "capacity building" aspect of PC. For example, they wanted someone to get textbooks donated from Europe or the US, to solicit for monetary and materials resources, and to write grants for the expansion of the organization.

You might be asking, well why can't you do these things? It's the difference between teaching a man to fish and just giving him a fish. For details on how foreign aid (including foreigners who come to African countries for a few weeks/months and do exactly those tasks outlined above) has actually been detrimental to the development of Africa, I'd recommend Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo.

Less curb appeal than my old place, but still nice!

Kitchen/sitting room

Where I try and work

Bedroom/more sitting room

A big plus to my place is that it's in Bugembe, a town 5 km east of Jinja town. This means that I have much better access to power and internet than I did in Mayuge. It also means that I'm close enough to town to have pizza delivered TO MY HOUSE. Now, this might not seem like a big deal to those of you back home, but it's a HUGE deal here! I didn't even think such a thing was possible! So the other night, my friend (who lives just a few more kilometers east of me) decided that we had to take advantage of this new miracle.

Delivery woman showed up on a boda!

Mary enjoying our pizza! It had feta cheese!

My house is also right next to a radio station, Baba FM. One day I decided to go and check out their offices and make some new friends. Well, since it's a radio station and can't afford to go off the air every time the power goes out, they have a huge generator that turns on immediately when the power goes out. They also have AIR CONDITIONING. It was heavenly! As I was leaving, I was asked to record a quick advert in Lusoga for an upcoming concert in June.

I'm famous!

Next to the radio station is the Busoga Kingdom headquarters, where the cultural leader for the Busoga region is supposed to work. Unfortunately, Busoga has not had a king for 3 years. When the last leader died, a new one was supposed to be elected from among 11 elders. There were two main contenders, one who is supported by the government and one who is supported by the people. Apparently every time they meet to elect a leader, fighting ensues. I found all of this information out when one day half a dozen police vehicles parked themselves all around the compound near my house to prevent fighting from occurring during the most recent meeting. It sure took me by surprise to all of sudden be surrounded by policemen every time I left my house, but after 4 days the threat had apparently diminished, and they all left. That is, until the next meeting.

Baba FM (reddish building) and Busoga Headquarters (white building)

So as you can see, life in Bugembe is anything but dull! Farewell, until my next adventure!