Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Great Expectations

Caroline’s Story

I was going through some of the databases that I had recently created and I came across a girl named Caroline. I remember her name easily because she looks like someone I met in Mexico on a mission trip. I can remember things very well if I can associate them. I noticed that she stayed with the same caregiver that 2 other sisters stay with. These 2 sisters look alike, as sisters commonly do. But Caroline doesn’t (you can’t compare last names. Everyone in every family has different names). I asked Barbra about her and here’s what she told me.

Caroline was found about 1km away from here in a swamp. Similar to the Moses story except that she wasn’t in a basket floating down the Nile (which begins in Uganda). Unfortunately it’s fairly common for a mother to ‘dump’ a child who is unwanted here in hopes that someone will take them in. Sometimes, however, the child winds up at the bottom of a pit latrine…

So Caroline was found by the mother of these 2 girls and she has raised her as her own child. Now several people over the years have tried to claim Caroline as their own child. Now why would someone want to claim an orphan when there are so many in this country, I asked Barbra. She told me that families who are barren and have no children or who have had children die would claim one. People were even approaching Caroline and telling her that they were her father or mother and that she should go home with them. She would reply by telling them that her father had died and that her mother was at home, confused as to why they would make such bogus claims. Her (adopted) mother explained to her that these people were up to no good and were trying to kidnap her.

About a year ago an elderly man came to Compassion with a story that fit (Sounds like Anne to me). He told how his son had impregnated a house girl who had a child and dumped it in the swamp 10-11 years ago. The son has since died or run of (I can’t remember) and this man only wanted to be reunited with his granddaughter. He was mildly hysterical about finding where she lived and who she lived with, but he was also a man who was financially well off.

So Compassion told him that Caroline might be too young to know the truth of her situation and that if he wanted to see her than he could do so through them. He left, however, and they haven’t heard from him since. And to this day Caroline still doesn’t know.

Great Expectations

Apparently Jacob and I were both believed to be women. At least that’s what our organizations had gathered before our arrival. The APCD of Health (Associate Peace Corps Director) resigned recently. Where’s the tie-in with the afore mentioned statements…let me explain.

The APCD of Health, to the best of my understanding, has a responsibility of being “John the Baptist” so to speak (minus the camel-skin loincloth and eating locus). Preparing the way for our arrival to our site by investigating the organization we’re working with, visiting our housing, etc. I found out this week that Compassion here at Kyamate were really confused upon my initial arrival. First, they thought I was a supposed to be a woman. 2nd that I would be bringing a car that I would be leaving that car for them when I left. 3rd that I would be bringing several computers to donate to Compassion. Now that’s a great deal of information to be mis-communicated…but wait…and it gets better…

Jacob was also supposedly a woman who has a degree in social work a great deal of work with orphans. Jacob isn’t a woman (that I know of) and he has a degree in Mechanical Engineering… They had no idea he was coming and also didn’t have any housing arrangements made for him whatsoever.

Other examples: PCV #3 – The organization thought PCV #3 was only staying for 2 weeks and that he/she was a medical doctor…PCV #3 actually has a degree in engineering. They also thought that the Peace Corps, which they had never heard of, was a military organization and that he/she was in possession of a firearm given by the PC.

PCV #4 – was placed at a site where transportation was a major problem. There was no way to get around on PC approved transportation in order to get the necessary weekly supplies like food.

PCV #5 – Was expected (by the organization) to live with her supervisor, a married man.

PCV #6 – Was living in the same building he/she was working in. This is against PC regulations.

So…the APCD of health has now resigned.

Living on a little

My computer and my flash drive contracted a virus last week. I had to make an emergency trip to Mbarara to get it fixed. I was already low on cash and was on a tight budget, but my computer has become like my child, demanding much of my attention (except that I get to turn it off when I want). We’re at the end of our pay period, so money is tight already. Factor in that I am owed a great deal of money by the Peace Corps for my Bicycle plus a couple of trips into Kampala they asked me to make. So my already low stash of cash became much lower. It’s basically this, for the next 2 weeks I have about $2 to live off of. $1 per week. Now I can do this! It’s an experiment but I want to try it. I can always borrow money from Jacob if I need it, he spends money like a 92 year old woman who clips coupons from the Sunday paper. I figure it’s like this, I’ve surrounded myself with creature comforts from home. My house looks like a college dorm room with pictures and art hanging up. But I’m in Africa, I’m in the Peace Corps, yet I eat at a nice restaurant several times a week with not much regard for money, in part, because it’s the wonderful taxpayers of American who are paying my salary. It’s not my money, really. (see the list below) And I’m not really ‘struggling’ to survive like many of the kids whom I’m visiting. So I’m going to try this. A loaf of bread here costs between $.35 and $.75. Eggs are $.08 each. Beans and Rice I have and are super cheap regardless(you just have to be careful when you’re eating them not to hit a rock and chip a tooth!!!) Water is free. Flour I have. My only concern is that I don’t have much money to feed my cat, so I may break down because of that…we’ll see.


I’ll leave you with this. It’s a list of things Chapman is experiencing now that he’s back in the states:

1.People asking really dumb questions about Africa (i.e. "Did you eat there?" "Was there meat?" "Did you see Brad and Angelina?")

2. Having to be on time

3. Going through the check out line at the grocery store and having to look at pictures in US Weekly and People of Tom Cruise's ugly ass baby and Brad and Angelina in Africa

4. My beer now only has 3 to 4% alcohol in it as opposed to 5-6%

5. Paying $4 for a beer!!

6. Having to care about my appearance

7. Mindless TV programs (Bridezilla, CBS Nightly News with Kaite Couric, the entire programming schedule of Fox News)

8. Knowing that the money I spend is mine and not provide by the wonderful US taxpayers

9. Waking up and having nothing to do

10. Driving (haha) in traffic

11. Constant stimulation (lots and lots of family)

12. Knowing if I get sick, Anni and Liz are not there (the PC nurses)

13. Not being able to make fun of Keith

14. No more fishing with Stoops (inside joke)

15. Spending time with all of you and learning form the people of Uganda


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