Thursday, May 22, 2008

Campus House team rolls up their sleeves

The Purdue team arrived with narry a hitch this week. All their luggage came with them ok. We loaded up 2 mini vans and drove to Backpackers in Kampala to spend the night. For all but one of them it’s their first time in Africa.

Day 1 we traveled to Jinja to see the source of the Nile River, Bujagali Falls. It was a beautiful day when we arrived and the trip there takes you through some dirt roads and some empoverished areas of Jinja. Once there we boarded a boat and took a trip out into the water to a small island nearby. Ben said he saw a crocodile but nobody believed him. We also paid a guy $5 to swim through the rapids. It’s his source of income to get tourists to pay him to do it. It looked death defying but when he did it it looked easy.

Back to Kampala and Backpaers to get our stuff and head to my village. Kampala traffic is always crazy. We had too many people in our vehicle and a traffic police man had us pull over where we had to pay $5 to him. Not sure if it was a bribe or a fine. A little later we encountered another police man and were going to have to pay again but the driver had me get out to meet him further up the road. I did, but when I looked back I couldn’t see our taxi amidst the dozens of other taxis or any white people. I freaked a bit and panicked. I called the drive but he couldn’t understand my accent well enough to actually communicate. I ended up having to jump on a boda and pay him to find our taxi, which he did a little ways up the road.

The guy I had hired to get us to my village didn’t show up so I had to call around and find another coaster (short bus) to get us there. By the time he got there we were 1 ½ hours late. This guy drove in such a way that it reminded me of my drivers-ed father. We were passed by every vehicle on the road. He practically stopped at every pot hole to navigate around it. In what is often a 4-5 hour trip took 7.5 hours to travel. We arrived late, which I didn’t think was a big deal in Africa after having lived here 2 years, but I still managed to get an earful for it.

We finally arrived and met our host families and got everyone to where they needed to go.

Thursday, May 8th was a rest day. We explored my village showing them the ‘Wal-Mart’ which is a tiny little shop where numerous little useful things are sold there. The longer you stand there the more you find. You can take about 3 steps and get from one end to another, but it’s full of stuff. They were also introduced to Sky Blue, my favorite little restaurant in town and then it was on to the bi-monthly market which was filled with vendors selling 2nd hand clothing, mattresses, cloth, pots, shoes, food and a bunch of trinkets you wouldn’t think they’d need in Africa. It was quite an experience and I think they wanted to stay longer to take it all in. Fortunately this year I have Jacob, Brock and Lindsey to help me show them around so we’ve been able to divide up as to not make up one massive group of 16 white people moving through town drawing stares, gawks, pointing, laughing, jeering, etc. It’s a little better when we’re in pods of 4.

Today, Friday, May 09, the Compassion kids came. I think the Purdue team enjoyed them worshiping the most. The kids really sing and clap and drum and let loose and worship. You can tell that it’s the kids’ favorite part of the day too. We went through our education sessions and the Compassion kids had a lot of questions to ask about America and dating and daily life there and the Purdue team was happy to answer and share their country and culture with them. The Purdue guys are adjusting to the quiet voices and the shyness of the Ugandan kids. It’s difficult to get them to speak out as English is a second language of theirs. They’re learning so much though every day. It’s a great time for me too because I get to share ‘my Africa’ with them. I spend 2 years here and have put a lot of effort and energy and emotion (and a lot of other words that start with an ‘e’) into this area and really nobody will every see it, so it’s nice to share my expertise and knowledge with a bunch of thirsty minds.

They’ve done nothing but enjoy their time here and they have many stories to tell already about their homestay families and using pit latrines (out houses) and bathing outside under the stars and eating the same bland food over and over and over. Tomorrow we go deep into the village for the first time to do some work. We’re sure to draw a crowd.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

What a day!!!

Saturday was scheduled to be a work day. 25 of the kids were invited to come along to help us work at one of our Compassion girl’s homes named Sarah. Sarah lives with her grandmother who must be in her 80’s. The grandmother is the only living relative of Sarah and her 4 younger siblings. The grandmother is very old and frail but she still somehow manages to take care of their garden and banana plantation though both were in desperate need of care. We spent the morning figuring out how to care for a banana plantation by watching the Compassion kids and doing what they were doing. They begin by cutting down the dead leaves that hadn’t fallen off. Then they trim any death that was occurring on the tree. My job consisted of removing the old ‘stumps’ and covering up the place they were with dirt. Others were cutting up stumps that had fallen to increase the speed of them rotting.

In addition to working on the banana plantation we also hoed in their garden. It was full of weeds. It was funny watching some of the Purdue girls trying to hoe, especially along side the Compassion girls who are experts at it. They all jumped right in and went to work though. We also put up a bathing are where the family could bathe more privately. They had been bathing from outside on the side of their house previously. And we also put up a drying rack for their dishes. It’s important for dishes to dry in the sun to kill some additional germs. This also prevents them from drying on the ground which is not sanitary. We enjoyed a meal of chapattis (like tortillas), bananas, sodas and water for lunch.


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