Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"Dear Mr Brian Dunn"

“Dear Mr Brian Dunn” I came home late last night to find a note under my door. It read as follows. Re: REQUESTING FOR A SPONSOR I apply that I, Nagiko Monica, aged 14 years am in Senior 2, am an orphan and also a needy who needs help. Am requesting for a sponsor from American state. I would request you, sir, to help such that I can get a sponsor. I really failed to get a chance of being in a Compassion. Since chance knocks once I would like to use a chance since you’re still in Ntungamo to help by all means that also I can get a bright future. I usually read (the) Bible and I prefer studying, but the waste is, am reaching in different classes and young brothers and sisters are also reaching in upper classes, so my mother will not afford all of us and I dislike to leave school at this age. Am sorry for disturbing you but I am not me. It’s life. I wish you could have mercy for me so that I can get a sponsor. With God’s will I will not fear and I pry so much to God. Nice staying. Thanx!! Yrs…….. Nagiko Monica – It’s not the first time I’ve had kids ask me for a ‘sponsor’ from America, but it is the first note under my door I’ve had. When someone here asks for a sponsor they’re not askinf for a pen pal. They’re asking for someone to pay for them to go to school. If a family has 10 kids and just a little money they’ll only educate which children they can afford to. They get free education through 7th grade and they’ve started free education for secondary but there’s talk that it won’t continue, and even then they parents are asked to pay a small amount. Often PCVs pay for some student’s school fees, but we do have just a small salary and I have other things I’ve given money to. I have this belief that the money I make belongs to Uncle Sam anyway so why should I horde it? I make around $250 a month and school fees are $50 per term for 3 terms. This month alone I’ve given away over half my allowance… What to do, what to do? Shave and a Hair Cut, 2 Bits The first 6 months at site I didn’t get my hair cut. I was under the great disillusion that if I grew it out it would cover up the fact that I’m getting older and my hair is thinning a bit on top. (OK, a little more than a bit) In actuality it just gave me long, thin hair on top which actually had the opposite effect I was going for. But since the first of the year I’ve been going to a local place in town called the Turquoise Salon and getting it cut short. It’s a nice place. They have 3 ‘barber chairs’, a TV going all the time which plays Nigerian films and music videos. It’s well lit and has mirrors all around and when the power isn’t on the run a generator. I used to go in and sit and wait my turn to be called to the chair, but then I realized that the other people there who I thought I was waiting in line with were just barbershop bums that just come in to sit, not even wanting a haircut and that other people would walk right in and sit in the chair for a hair cut, so now that’s what I do too. When in Rome… The guy that cuts my hair does a nice job, with a few notable exceptions. Now granted, he’s never cut the hair of a white man before. He uses the electric clippers, but instead of going against the grain of my hair, like you would normally do, he goes WITH the grain. The haircut looks fine after he’s finished, but once I reach home I can see all of the random individual hairs he missed that are now twice as long as the others. Recently, after finishing my haircut, he started trimming other parts of my face. (This should give anyone cause to be nervous.) He shaved my quazi-facial scrub, which was a bit painful because he went over and over and over the same parts, but I let him finish. Then he proceeded to trim my uni-brow, which I didn’t mind one bit, because it needs it periodically, but then he proceeded to trim my nose hair with the clippers. I had to draw the line there. Another funny thing he did was to take the electric clippers and trim right along the edge of my receding hair line, which, of course, made it look even more receding that it already is and ruined all the work I had done to grow the hair out over it in the first place! Agghhhhhh! I can’t win sometimes! “Watch it, Bud!” Speaking of not winning… I’ve said before that the larger the vehicle the more right of way it takes on the road. Today on my way home I was clearly in the right of way. I had just turned onto the road when a boda (moped) carrying a passenger also turned up ahead of me. As he approached me I was pulling up next to a guy on a bike carrying matooke when this boda drive decided to cut me off and in doing so clipped my front wheel nearly causing me to flip over my handle bars! I was already having a bad morning so I turned around and yelled something about him not owning the road and he was yelling back. For reasons I can’t explain I felt like going back and reemphasizing my point, so I turned around for a confrontation. Of course, upon doing so, the 85 men who are just sitting around without anything to do began to gather around. The guy began immediately apologizing and I was just trying to explain to him that he was endangering several people’s safety by his carelessness, but when the crowd started to gather I felt the need to scram. Crowds here freak me out. Twenty African men, all of them probably somehow cousins of this guy… whose side do you think they’d take in this argument? There’s also crowd justice here where they’ll stone a thief to death. They’ll also stone to death someone who hits someone with a car. They wouldn’t kill anyone for a minor fender bender but I just wanted to err on the side of caution. Crowds also produce thieves. If there are a bunch of people around it means possibly (but not probably) someone will unzip a pocket of my backpack and take something. Once a car hit a truck, killing the 2 passengers of the car and the people rushed ‘to help’ but they actually just took the possessions of the people who had died in the crash! I get real nervous around crowds. Even though I generally always feel safe in my village, I still just don’t like crowds. It’s funny the things I do here. The other day I was passing by a group 12 or so men who were spreading coffee beans out to dry. Coffee is the main cash crop here. These guys are ripped because they haul 110 lb bags of coffee beans all day. They’re seriously buff and they are the equivalent of construction workers in the states. As I was passing one of them started in on the Muzungu bit but then I also thought I heard him swearing at me. Now normally if a construction worker and his 11 friends were swearing at me in the states I would probably just keep walking with my head down and my tail tucked firmly under my skirt, but here I feel an air of… cockiness and of defending my right to not be called Muzungu. Maybe it’s because I’m white and generally respected or maybe because the Ugandans are so soft spoken generally. I don’t know. So I stopped, got off my bike, glared at him for a few seconds and said to him in the best teacher voice I could conjure, “What’d you say to me??!!” “Nothing. Nothing. I’m sorry,” he sheepishly replied. As I rode off I thought about how I would have never, never done that back home unless I just absolutely needed to have my head kicked in. I hope I don’t forget that when I go home.

Rushville Republican Article Here’s a link to the latest article I submitted to my local paper. http://www.rushvillerepublican.com/archivesearch/local_story_158211333.html


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