Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Give it up Long bus trips aren’t fun. Long bus trips in Africa aren’t fun. I know that I harp on this but it’s true. Bad roads. Cramped seats. My knees up against the seat in front of me. And they overcrowd the thing too so that people have to stand in the aisle. The buses I travel on from Kampala generally begin dropping people off after they’ve been on for at least 4 hours. So when I was sitting in my seat and I saw a woman get on with a baby strapped to her back I knew I had to get up and giver her my seat. I couldn’t let this woman stand for 4 hours with this child. I wonder what the Ugandans thought of that. A white man giving up his seat to an African woman. One old man who was wearing a hat that looked like it came out of Robin Hood (minus the feather) or Gulliver’s Travels grabbed my hand and said “Thank You”. Possibly one of the few English words he knew. But I felt good, giving up my seat. My legs for the next 4 hours disagreed with me. The return of a friend Our friend Shelly came back to our village this week. Jacob and I first met her just a few weeks after arriving here. She came to do an internship with Africare. In her time here she wrote and produced a video in the local language about the dangers of HIV/AIDS. She came back just to show the kids the video, especially the kids who she worked with that were in the video. It was great to see Shelly. She’s arguably one of the funniest girls I know, but she’s also one of the most passionate about Africa and HIV/AIDS awareness that I know. And that’s saying a lot because there are some very passionate people in the Peace Corps (and some that are not so passionate). This is her 6th trip to Africa and she hasn’t even reached her 25th birthday (I don’t think). She works while she’s in school to save up her money to come to Africa. It’s her ‘calling’ in her own words. And she’s a difference maker. She changes a place. She’s a social entrepreneur. I went with her out into the bush to find her actors and to show them the video. The actors and actresses in her video were kids who were part of a program for students who had dropped out of school. Of course whenever you’re showing a video in the bush people flock to see it. We went with Africare and hooked up a TV and DVD player to a generator. We set up in a church for the premier. Before our arrival, however, the church was having classes with upper primary students on confirmation. These kids had come from deep in the bush for confirmation. Upon seeing us they were a little, shall we say… excited. I’m quite sure they had never seen a Muzungu before. At least not up close. They rushed us as we walked up to the church. Fearful at first but when they saw that we came in peace they started to engage in their curiosity. They reached out and touched our skin. They touched Shelly’s hair. If we would turn our head quickly or stop suddenly they all scattered. There were about 100 kids surrounding us. They were curious, apprehensive, fearful and happy all at the same time. It was like something out of a movie and something I haven’t experienced to that extent yet. Being the playful spirits that we were we decided to have some fun with it. We started skipping and all of the kids started laughing and skipping with us. Then we hopped. And they hopped. Then we ran in a circle and they all scattered. One particular older girl was so fearful that whenever Shelly even glanced at her she sprinted away at full speed half smiling but checking her back to see if she was being followed by the strange white people. The video went over very well! The kids were glued to it. The actors in the video, as they watched themselves, weren’t amused with their own performance, so much as they were critical. You could see it in their faces. It was quite interesting. In the end Shelly handed out some gifts to her cast that she had brought from the US. We took some pictures to commemorate the occasion. Shelly seemed to be genuinely sad as we pulled away. She worked so hard with those kids and also on the video itself. She didn’t think I saw it but she shed a tear as she left them. She was so proud of them and she knew that it was the last time she would ever see them again. 12 days of Christmas. How to save money for Christmas by living like a Ugandan. #11 Send your children to school barefooted. I’m sure child protection services may frown on the idea but think of the money you’ll save in not having to buy the latest style of shoes for kids who are going to grow out of them before they wear them out anyway…


At 17 October, 2007, Blogger Susan said...

I'm waiting for my Peace Corps assignment, and I love reading your blog while I wait. Thanks for the insight. It keeps me patient and motivated at the same time.
Best Wishes,
Susan R.

At 23 October, 2007, Blogger Brian R Dunn said...

Good luck with your placement, Susan! I hope you can take something from my experiences (aside from my many blunders)!


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