Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Preview of Coming Attractions

  • Ultimate Frisbee Tournament
  • 15km Run. Winners receive School Fees for a Year ($250 each)
  • "The Simple Life" in Uganda

There are a few blips on the radar that I am excited about. First is an Ultimate Frisbee Tournament I’ve organized between 6 Secondary Schools that are each located less than 1 mile from the center of town. Each school has around 300-600 students. The game is maybe best described as a combination of soccer and football but played with a Frisbee. It’s non stop action and it’s very aerobic. The only equipment required to play is a Frisbee, so it makes sense in that regards, and the rules are quite simple. Baseball, on the other hand, has a complex set of rules and a lot of expensive equipment. So for the past few months I’ve spent 6 days a week visiting the various schools teaching them how to play. I’ve made it mandatory to have girls on the team (to which one student replied, “But if we are to have the best team the girls will slow us down.”) The girls seem to like the game but they are a bit slow to come around to it. This is the best part. I’ve found a couple of businesses to contribute some money, so the winner of the competition will receive a trophy (The Nile Bakery Cup), a goat to cook and share, and I would like to take them to Kampala for a Frisbee Tournament held there in February. It will be a double elimination tournament which means each team could play as many as 6 games. There will also be a group there to perform some singing and dramas regarding HIV/AIDS plus I’ll have some HIV/AIDS trivia questions I’ll ask throughout the tournament with small prizes like candy to pass out.

The next thing sort of fell in my lap. I was eating at Sky Blue the other day when a man from Israel (coincidently also named Israel) happened to be having a beer out on the patio. He’s kind of a harsh man in his late 50s or early 60s and he manages a very large set of greenhouses where they grow flowers which are sold to Europe, I’m told. It’s an absolutely huge facility in the middle of the bush and it sticks out like a sore thumb. Israel (the man, not the country) is kind of a tough nut to crack. He’s very blunt and can be very coarse, but at the same time he also insists on my pulling up a chair to join him most times when I see him. Since he found out that I run marathons his entire view of me has changed. This last time I saw him he was almost gushing at me, saying over and over “I really admire you,” and while asking about the Boston Marathon.

Maybe it was because of his harshness that I was very surprised by what he said next. “If you can organize a run to my farm (greenhouses) I’ll pay the top 3 winners’ school fees for a year.” It was like a flash of lightening that came from a clear blue sky! I couldn’t believe my ears! First off, he’s not one to spend money and it would cost around $750 USD to pay for 3 students school fees for a year. Secondly it’s 16k to run to his place. Immediately I saw an opportunity for some of these kids and tried bargaining with him. “Make it 2 boy winners and 2 girl winners and I’ll do it!”

“Done!” He said. “But you organize it and let me know what you come up with.”

The last thing I’m looking at is a bit of an experiment of sorts. I don’t know where the idea came from exactly but I’m really excited about it. I live in a small village in Uganda. I work with some of the poorest of the poor children. I visit their homes and see where they live, but I don’t know what village life is like. I live in a decent home with electricity. I fetch my water from about 30 meters away from a tap. I eat my food from a nice restaurant in town. I don’t fetch firewood or dig in a garden. So I’ve asked my organization to find a poor family deep in the village that I can stay with for a few days. I want to sleep where they sleep and eat what they eat. I want to dig in their fields and fetch firewood and water with them. I remember losing sleep when I was fretting over one poor family we have in Compassion where a mother, father and 9 children were sleeping in a small 2 room house with only 1 mattress. Imagining them choosing a place on the floor on a mat, huddled together for warmth. Now, I want to see it myself. My organization will help me find a family and get ready. I’ll take along a mattress, blanket, camera, books, notebook and bottled water. Otherwise I’ll try to be experiencing life in the village and of course I’ll blog all about it. I don’t know when this will all happen, maybe in a few weeks, but I’m looking forward to the experience.


I’ve almost shaken free from being called Muzungu all the time in my village. It’s now changed to having people say my name all the time. But it’s not exactly my name. I mean, it is, but it isn’t. The way they say it it sounds like they put a ‘d’ where the ‘r’ is and then they add an ‘ee’ to the end. So as I bike through my village I have almost everyone calling my name, whether I know them or not. They want my attention, they want me to just look at them and it drives me just as crazy as being called Muzungu (which I won’t acknowledge). I’ve found that ignoring being called Muzungu gives me great satisfaction. They can’t figure out why I don’t look at them when they are saying it. But with the “Bdianee”, because most of the people who are saying it I don’t know, I have to either recognize the voice or wait for them to say it multiple times before I can look at who it is.

I’ve also discovered that eye contact gets me in trouble. If I look at someone as I’m approaching them or passing them on my bike then I’m almost certain to get a remark or a stare from them. Guaranteed. So here goes the white man biking through the village with his eyes diverted from people and ignoring most people who call his name. Sounds like a real friendly guy, doesn’t it…

My favorite is a little boy whom I encounter as I bike up the hill to my home. Whenever he sees me he runs to the edge of the road which is a small cliff, really, and smiles and waves vigorously as he yells “How are you Bdianee!” I have sooooo many kids say “How are you, Bdianee,” that I usually just give a slight wave and keep going, but this little guy has gotten to me. He’s so consistently there and greets me with such pleasure and then he smiles and runs back to his hut after I’ve greeted him back. It may sound harsh or cold that I’m not greeting everyone who greets me or calls me Muzungu, but the novelty of being one of the only white guys around and the center of EVERY bit of attention wore off long ago, so this is how I deal with it. Join the Peace Corps and find out for yourself.


At 24 July, 2007, Anonymous Ann Shaw said...


I remember the little boy you're talking about. He always came out to talk see us too. Josh tried to teach him to say "fantastic" instead of "fine" when asked how he was, just to make you laugh when you talked to him! I don't think he succeeded though. :)



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