Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rural Home Stay

This is just to let everyone know that I am leaving for rural home stays tomorrow so I will be out of touch with everyone for the next ten days!

Love and miss you all!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

For my family without facebook who wants to see my hair...

I chopped my hair off, and my family wanted to see it, and this is the easiest way to show everyone, sorry to everyone else!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


So apparently today marks the halfway point of me being in Uganda. This could be wrong, but it is close enough. Today also means that I only have 57 days left.

This week has been stressful and crazy and there have been a lot of moments where I just wanted to go home. Between trying to schedule classes for school next semester and it being pretty unsuccessful, along with dealing with the thought of rural home stays coming up quite quickly has just been alot at once. I am ready for home stays to be over, and then things will get alot less stressful.

Friday I leave for 10 days. We drive up to Soroti and stay the night with one of our staff members family, and then we all get taken to a home stay. Truth be told I am not overly thrilled with this whole ordeal. I am not a person who loves doing things like this alone, which we were basically told the chances of getting paired were beyond unlikely.

I think it will be a great experience. We will live with this family for a week without leaving. We were told that we would basically be exhausted by the end from working in the garden and other such things. It should be interesting.

We go from Saturday to Friday, and then we go to Sepia Falls for the weekend which should be super fun.

I chopped my hair off last night, and two other girls shaved their head, it was crazy but super amusing. That is about all the excitement so far. I am going to my practicum today and tomorrow, and then Thursday we have a field trip for my African Traditional Religions class to a mosque, then friday we head out!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rafting down the Nile River!

So this past Saturday a group of us decided to go rafting on the Nile. We went Grade 5. I have never been rafting before so I had no idea what to expect. We decided to do Grade 5 cause we figured, well we are already rafting on the Nile River, we might as well just go all out – so we did.

We got there and ate breakfast. Then we had to get in groups of seven and tell the man if we wanted to go mild or crazy. In the end this meant do you want your raft guide to flip you… We did not know it meant that. So Lindsey, Alayna, Leah, Becky, Grace, Jen, and I all yell CRAZY. The man completely in charge of everything must have thought that we were funny or something, cause he looks at us and then goes… You guys are with me! So we are super excited.

We start off last. As our guy was the main man, he had to make sure everyone else got out ok before his raft went. The whole day was a love - hate relationship with him. I got pushed off of the raft in the first five minutes that we were on it. He was teaching us how to ‘get down’ into the raft so that we would not fall out. So he used me as an example of what will happen if you do not get down fast enough. He tells me to fall out of the boat…. I say WHAT? And he just pushes me out, and then goes, why are you not holding on to the rope… Uhhhh…. It was funny. They he taught us – again using me how to pull each other up out of the water using our life vests. Our life vests were so so tight on us. They had to be so that we could pull each other out. We had helmets too – so no worries it was safe! Then we got taught what to do if we flipped. So we all held on the rope as out guide – Doug – flipped us over. Then he told us to get back in the boat… Not one of us could pull ourselves up, that is when we became useless he said haha.

After practicing how to paddle, fall out, pull each other out of the water, etc… We got to our first rapid. It was only a grade 2, but a taste of everything. We actually got told to jump out of the boat, and learned what to do if we were to fall out, we just floated down it with our legs up so that we would not get hit by rocks. The other thing to do is when you are under water to curl up in a ball in order to pop up faster. We rafted for 30 miles and had a lot of rapids. My raft got flipped twice, and I am pretty sure he did it to us on purpose, cause he never hit the water, but we were all drowning in Grade 5 rapids. They were fun, but it was crazy. In one of the rapids that we flipped in, I got stuck under the boat. The boat had been flipped but I was not in one of the parts where there was air, and waves were still hitting me. In my head I was sure I was going to drown in the Nile under this raft. I was able to crawl my way along the boat until I reached the surface. All my friends thought that I was like going to die, because my lips were blue from the cold and the life vest was so tight it was hard to get air. Alayna and I have laughed a lot about the first time we flipped, because we surface right next to each other holding on to the boat, barely able to get air, and all that I can say is I lost my paddle I lost my paddle, Alayna is like it’s OK.

For lunch we each got half of a pineapple and biscuits. It was so good. Then we kept rafting. There were a lot of flat parts where we just had to paddle and paddle. We are all SO sore today. One of the grade 5 rapids was CRAZY. Well they all were but this one especially. We had to go down this area with rocks and then we went down a 15-foot waterfall, our raft is 14 feet which means a vertical drop. He told us NOT to fall out unless we wanted to lose our life, and NOT to sit in the raft, only to be on your feet, unless you want, things I cannot write on here. We got stuck on the rocks so we had to bounce up and down and then on the waterfall you have to look off to the side so you do not smash your face into the person in front of you. Now, I am not a very heavy person, so as we go down I am looking off to the side to not get smashed and holding on the boat with everything I have, yet even still I practically fly forward, and body slammed poor Leah. Thankfully she was there though or I probably would have flown out. Our guide tapped my helmet and was told me he thought that I was going to fly out the front of the raft!

The other crazy rapid was at the end and was called ‘The Bad Place”. It was at the end of a Grade 6 rapid, which is one that could only be rafted by Kayaks. So we had to walk around part of it, and then get on at the end. All of the other groups went around the worst part in the middle and went down a still pretty decent sized rapid on the side. Our guide makes us paddle into the heart of this mass of waves and currents. It was INSANE. We are pretty sure that he just wanted to flip us. Cause we got out of it, and then he made us paddle BACK into it. Then he was mad that we did not flip.

The day was insane. We got called Team Estrogen by our guide all day, got loved and hated by our guide, got flipped over, went through crazy rapids and had one of the best days EVER. I am so glad I had the chance to do that. It is sad, because quite soon rafting on the Nile will be over, as they are building six dams on the river for hydroelectric power which is going to get rid of all but the last three rapids, which is quite sad. Therefore, I am super glad that I got to experience it now, before it ends. It was by far one of the most fun, and best days of my life.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sleepover at my Practicum

So on Tuesday Alayna and I decided to stay the night at CHAIN in order to experience what happens in the evening, and to work on our hours.

On Tuesday we worked in the classroom P1 mostly observing the teacher. It was quite interesting however. Neither of us had ever been on that class, and there was a girl named Anna there that confused us. We took Dorthy and Brigit out to dinner tonight to talk about CHAIN, and learn more. We are normally there till about 6:15. So when Vincent (our bus driver) came to pick up the other girls, me, Alayna, our field instructor - Dorthy, and Brigit, all went out to eat. It turned out to be really good. We talked alot about the kids, and about Uganda in general. We also decided to ask them about this girl. When we were in the classroom with her, first off she looked quite old for P1. Then she was hitting the other children quite violently, pulled a girls skirt up cause she knew somehow that she was not wearing underwear, and just seemed quite off. Dorthy told us that she was 15 and had some severe mental disabilities. She apparently has a hard time working around other children, and will more than likely never finish school. We may get the chance to work with her one-on-one to see if that can help her progress at all. After dinner we came back to CHAIN and watched a movie with the kids. I borrowed Little Rascals from my roommate, and we were unsure how successful it would be, but the children loved it. All ages were there, and they thought it was the greatest thing ever, and laughed the whole time.

On Wednesday we got up early and helped the mothers. We swept and mopped the floors. Then we attended staff devotions. After that we went out to help Auntie Olivia with the laundry. We then took a break at tea time and walked with one of the child development interns into a village to get rollex. We had tea and talked to Dorthy.

We then served the children lunch and then went and had lunch with Dorthy. We spent some time discussing CHAIN, and Uganda and social work . Then we went down to the school. Dorthy had previously given Alayna a list of children for us to work with. We were able to meet with three. We basically just talked to them to understand their backgrounds. This was difficult to do as we felt as though we were slightly frightening to the children. Quite frankly I do not blame them, if someone came in and told me that the two white girls were in the office (we found out later that sometimes the kids get disciplined - spanked in that office) I would be scared too. One of the children also did not speak much English. The only one that did not look terrified was the blind child... We are going to talk to some more on Tuesday, we have two children that only go to the school and four that live at CHAIN I believe. We did tell them that they could talk to us whenever they needed someone to talk to, and that we wanted to just be friends and talk to them, so I am hoping that maybe as weeks go on the kids will trust us more. Yet at the same time, I know that in four weeks my hours will be over, and I am not sure that I have enough time to really do anything.

After we talked to the kids we spent some time talking to Dorthy about how it went, and she told us some more of their story, at least for the girl who spoke little English. I think she wants us to redo some of the profiles, to update them, so that should be interesting as well.

I cannot believe how close I am to done. I have gotten 92 of my 150 hours, and my time here is going by so quickly. Two months from yesterday I fly out and two months from today I will land in the United States. It is so crazy to me that it is going by so fast, that it is going to come to an end. I love it here, and in some ways I know that I will be ready to go back to the U.S. but I do love it here, and it will be hard to leave my kids at practicum along with all the people I have grown so close to here. This is such a different world than the one I live in in America, and I know that I am going to have culture shock. Even though we have not been here that long, life is so different. I am sure though that you will have to hear alot more about this when it comes close to the time that I have to leave, so I shall stop for now.

Tomorrow I am going rafting on the Nile, Grade 5 so that should be lots of fun!!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The craziest weekend of my life.

This weekend was crazy. I had planned to write a bit about the Trade Fair before I talked about the circumcision. I still will, but after the past two days what happened at the trade fair, just seems like so much less of a big deal.

Right after class on Friday a group of us headed out to Kampala. There is a trade fair once a year with all sorts of fun stuff. I was able to get a lot of my presents for people. I still have some more I am working on for family, and a few more things I want for myself – of course haha – but I was able to get a lot of what I needed. Trying to get into the trade fair was insane. There were huge lines of people. It is an all week event, but apparently the President was there that day so it was even crazier than a normal day. People were pushing and shoving like crazy. This is a place where people really do not understand what I line means, and it becomes even more apparent as I was shoved everywhere. Trying to get through the doors was even worse. Our group was all shoved practically on top of each other and people we did not know. I thought at one point I was going to get torn in half as men were shoving past us and I was caught between a bar and air. I was being pulled in different directions.

We finally got in and the security guards wanted to take our cameras – and there was NO way I was giving these guys my camera. They finally got sick of us I think, and told us to go stand somewhere. So we did for about a second, then just left. We found out later from a Ugandan friend, they it was because the President was there so they did not want photos taken. We just kept them in our bags.

Shopping was a lot of fun. I would love to list all the cool things I got, but that would ruin Christmas! But we had a great time, and I am quite glad we got to go.

The rest of this weekend was… well an experience. Eight o’clock Saturday morning almost all of us loaded into our bus. It was field trip time for my African Traditional Religions class. I have to say, none of it really went as planned for them, or expected for us. And I am not going to go into detail about everything, because I do not feel as though it all needs to be said over my blog.

We drove about three hours and got to Mbale. We were shown to our various rooms, and the two bathrooms for all about 35 of us. Then we had tea. A speaker came to talk to us about circumcision, the African culture regarding it, and how Christianity now fits into it. He was a little hard to understand, but we got the gist of it all. They we had lunch, and got back in the bus to head out.

We had to drive about an hour to get to the site. My professor was worried, cause we were late, but since it had rained everything was delayed. However the rain also provided us with probably the most Africa experience ever, that many people were expecting their days to be like here.

We were in a VERY rural setting, and therefore, all dirt roads. Well, when it pours and pours and pours, dirt roads turn into mud roads, which also means our bus cannot drive down them. So we walked about 2 miles to get to our place in the mud. I have to say, that mud walk was probably the best part of the trip – maybe even of our time it Africa. It was insane but so much fun.

We were so gross. I ended up taking my shoes off cause I was sliding SO much. I could hardly walk. Then we had been told to wear skirts, so I am in a floor length skirt that I have now rolled up. We stopped after a little bit and our guide got someone to give us sugar cane. We must have been such a site. If you have never had sugar cane, you have to peel it before you eat it. But you have to use your teeth to pull the outer layer off, and they bit off pieces of sugar cane. And you do not actually eat the sugar cane. You basically bite and suck the juice out of it, then spit the rest of it out. It is so good though.

We had to of looked crazy. All the Africans were laughing and following us. Every time one of us fell they thought it was the funniest thing that they had ever seen. For at least an hour this went on. I can only imagine what 35 Mzungus looked like walking down the mud path ripping pieces of sugar cane and spitting them…

Then it got even better. We went off the dirt road into a weird like field/grass/dirt jungle something. I am not even sure. Then even better, we had to cross a bridge. Well not a bridge… The ‘bridge’ consisted of a two by four. And keep in mind, it is muddy and wet and gross. So the two by four is ALSO covered in mud. I was so thankful for one of my guy friends. I was like great I’m gonna die, and he just kept going its ok you can do it, until I got across. We went up and down hills, crossed another two by four – this one had ridges in it, that I tried to walk in to keep from falling.

We finally got to our destination. I finished eating my sugar cane, and I have mud up to my knees at this point, all over my skirt and hands. Then I am sticky from my wonderous sugar cane. A man came around with water and a bucket that we washed out hands in. My feet and shoes were so caked in mud, I could not of physically put my shoes back on if I had desired to.

I am not going to really talk about the circumcision a lot, just because I do not want to gross anyone out. If you want to know more, please just shoot me an email and I can explain their rituals and what happened that I saw as best I can to you.

The whole village was there though. It is really a community thing. And it only happens every two years, so the boys are about 15 when it happens, and it was what symbolizes their becoming a man. They cannot get married, until this happens, and apparently girls will not marry a ‘man’ if he is not circumcised, because in this culture it means that they are still a boy – forever. It is hard for me to really wrap my head around because if the boy flinches or moves he shames himself and his family for life. Everything about the entity of his life rests on this one event.

One funny story from it however – one of the girls had scratched her face not realizing that she had mud on her hand. So she had a big streak across her face. So then she put her hand on another girls face. The Africans in one of the lull periods thought that this was a great idea. So he decided that he should take mud off of his boot and touch us all to get mud on us. So I ended up with mud on my face, neck and chest. And it did not happen all at once. No, he put some on me then apparently that was not enough and needed to come add some to me. It was so crazy we were all such a mess.

That is all I am going to say for now. I am not sure what all would and would not e appropriate for this, so again, if you want to know more just send me an email and I’ll tell you the long version…

Well about this time, we are reaching sunset. Almost. So the trek back begins. However the probably 400 – at least – villagers are also walking back. The laughter at the white kids begins again as we all slip and slide. I only had to cross one bridge this time as we went around another by jumping the creek at a different part. It was such a crazy walk. I did make it the whole way without falling though.

On the walk back it began to rain. On a really bright side, we saw one of the prettiest sunsets ever. And it was pretty cool to see it and lightening all at once. Some of us got picked up by the van which may or may not of been a good choice. Riding back was literally like a theme park ride. Someone compared it to the Indiana Jones ride, which was pretty much perfect. It was too bad we did not have a jeep cause that would have made it all the more better. The roads were still muddy and a taxi was in front of us (taxis here are vans) swerving all around. He got stuck for a second so our driver sped past him. Have you ever hydroplaned on ice? Well, that is what this was like, but with mud. We were all over the road, it was SO crazy.

We got back to the bus safe and sound with so many great stories to tell. We drove our hour back to the place we were staying, all of us literally covered and caked in mud. When we got back it was pitch dark and we were shown to a spigot to rinse off our feet. Some of by that point did not even realize that it was raining from how wet we already were to the spigot drenching us. A few of us pretty much just stood there and washed everyone’s feet and legs since that seemed to be the most effective way to go about it. Then we sat and washed all the shoes, each of which took quite awhile as they were also caked in mud.

Our group leaders did apologize for some of the conditions of the day, as it is not really in the programs plan to have some of the stuff that happened happen. However, at the end of the day we all had a good time, at least on the walks, and it is an experience I will never forget. I am really glad we got to experience everything that happened. It really gave us a lot more exposure to African culture, and I feel like I learned a lot. It was a moment I will surely value, if only for the experiences we got from it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

44th day in Africa.

This week has been pretty busy thus far. My classes and practicum, have been taking up a lot of time, but it has been good.

So yesterday at my practicum they put me and the other social worker in a class of 60 kids to teach. Yes. 60. David told us to do something with them. We tried to ask him what he wanted us to do with them, I told him that we were not teachers, we were social workers, and all I got was a blank stare. Therefore, we went in there and played heads-up-7-up with them. For some reason although they like the game, they never quite seem to understand it. Then we decided to play hangman, which actually worked a lot better. After a few games of that (i.e. when David was done with lunch haha) David came back and taught them about dysentery and cholera.. Fun subjects.... Then we went and got to pick Guava which was a ton of fun! Then we joined the kids in their evening devotions then went home.

Today I went to my practicum at 8 like every Wednesday. I went to staff devotions and then I went down to the school and read to one of the blind teachers. The kids have exams this week, so they all have to be changed into braille for the blind children. So I read him the exams while he, by hand, wrote out each other the exams. I do not know how he does it so fast its amazing! He says he is going to teach me, so I am pretty excited about that! I ended up leaving practicum early, cause I was not feeling well. However, me and the other social worker are going to stay the night at CHAIN next Tuesday so that should be a lot of fun.

This weekend, for my African Traditional Religions class they are taking us to see a circumcision. Apparently only every 2 years does a class get to go, so we are lucky they said. It is not a baby circumcision though... It is like 18 year-old-adult-male circumcisions. So, if nothing else it should be a cultural experience...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Beautiful Children.

(The whole group that went)

So, on Saturday, I spent the day at my practicum. There was a special event going on in Kampala for three of the blind schools in Uganda. We got to CHAIN at about 8 am, and then headed to Kampala around 12. We got there at one, but most events had not yet begun.

There were performances from all three schools, and my kids did so good. I am so very proud of them. I love being able to see the way that they go about life, and succeed so much, despite their disability. Also to see the way that the kids who can see help the blind children. There is no discrimination between them and it is such a beautiful thing.

(Singing time)

There were several speakers, several who were blind, and then a British women. It was interesting. Then there was an 'auction' which is too weird to even describe, but they do NOT know what an auction is here.

That is really about the extent of the day. I was with my kids for about 11 hours, and dead tired by the end, but it was a great day to spend with them. My practicum is not the easiest, especially with the 'no social work' work that entails. However, days like that when I get to see my kids do so well in something, and be so happy... It is all worth it.

(My beautiful Bata, If only I could take her home with me....)

Friday, October 1, 2010

This week.

As time has gone on life has begun to basically fall more into a routine - mostly. My days consist of class and practicum.

Both of these are going pretty well. Classes are very different than what I am used to but that is always a learning experience.

Practicum honestly wears me out but I have gotten almost a 3rd of my hours, and tomorrow I am going to my site all day. There is a blind children's event in Kampala so I am going with them to the event. It should be lots of fun.

This week at my practicum I taught the kids a song that I had learned in daycare this summer. Then I worked in the sick bay for awhile. I worked a long time in the kitchen, cutting up food, serving food, picking and cutting up more food, picking through beans... Then I looked through some more profiles. It was a pretty good week!

This week has been busy, and I am tired, but I am loving Africa. This weekend I am going to the blind children's event and then to Kampala on Sunday. I got a new untreated mosquito net, so now that I do not have pesticides hanging in my face (I am allergic...) all night long, my allergy are much better. Not all gone, but so much better, and my eyes are not swollen anymore either!