Ugandans love Obama. You can find Obama’s face on practically anything here: tshirts, sandals, plastic bags, fabric, banners, etc. There are car washes and hole in the wall restaurants named after Obama. Ugandans also think all Americans personally know Obama. On countless occasions I have had people, after having an in depth conversation or even just in passing, ask me to tell Obama they say “Hello.” Even though I have never seen—much less met—Obama in person, Ugandans think I have a personal relationship with him. I’ve found it’s easier to humor them and save myself from a half hour explanation of why most Americans don’t actually know Obama than it is to tell them I have never met Obama. I have started ending conversations by saying, “…and I will tell Obama you say ‘Hello’!” They love this! It cracks me up how excited they get whenever I say this. So if any of you just happen to run into Obama one day, make sure to tell him the people in Biikira Parish in Uganda say ‘Hello!’
Last week I found a primary school in Kyotera (my closest town) where I am going to start teaching. It’s a small boarding school for P1-P3 students. I toured the school and immediately fell in love. It’s considerably small by Ugandan standards and there are only about 40 students in each grade level. I brought all of my Pre-K music with me from the states (Thank you so very much for the PPCD mix, Angelique!) and have decided to start a music and dance class to help the kids with their English. I figure this will be a fun and interactive way for them to not only practice their English but also begin to understand my American accent before I start teaching them core subjects. I have made picture flash cards of vocabulary from the songs and plan to use them to teach the kids. For example, the song “Head and shoulders, knees and toes” is the first one we are working on. I made cards with the words on one side and the corresponding picture on the other. So there will be a flashcard with the word ‘head’ on one side and a picture of a head on the other. The kids will be able to associate a picture with the written word and then identify the specific body part on themselves. Once they have mastered the vocabulary I will teach them the song. I plan to do this with most of the songs I brought with me. As soon as they get the songs down I will be sure to post a video for you guys to check out.
Some of you know that I have been having issues with water lately. I don’t have running water in my house. My house is set up for running water, but the pipes don’t work and the pump is broken. I have had nice access to a rather large rain tank up until recently, when we discovered the rain tank is almost empty. It’s the middle of the dry season and we don’t get much rain this time of the year. This has made me rather nervous, especially when I have to “bucket flush” my toilet. This basically consists of pouring a huge amount of water into the back of my toilet tank so the toilet is able to flush. The whole process is really kind of gross since I can only flush the toilet about once a day because it uses a ridiculous amount of water. With a water shortage I have become even more worried because the situation turns into a health issue. I’ve been expressing my concern to my college almost on a daily basis and they have been trying to work to find some other water source for me. A few days ago I discovered that I actually have a pit latrine. No one told me I had one! I know, this may seem like something strange to get excited about, but it means I can save so much water by not flushing my toilet. So in short, the water situation is no longer a crisis because I am not wasting water flushing my toilet. Also, all of you who decide to come visit me will have the privilege of using a pit latrine! Very exciting, I know…
If you weren’t grossed out by that, maybe this one will get you: Buzi had worms. Not parasites, but worms that were actually in his skin. I discovered them the other day when I was petting him and I felt a small bump. As I looked closer, the bump looked sort of like a big pimple but had a small black hole in the center. The black hole moved a little and I realized something was inside. I squeezed the bump and a white grub-like worm popped out of my dog’s neck! It sounds absolutely disgusting, and it really kind of is, but it was the coolest thing I have seen. I have no idea what it was or even how to prevent it, so if anyone knows or can find out I would really appreciate it! Later that night I found a similar bump on his back leg, but this one was much bigger. Sure enough the bump had the same black hole in the center, which turns out is how the worm breathes. The next day I found 3 more, two in his back leg and one on his front paw. This time I made sure to get Courtney, my neighbor, to video tape the whole thing. So all of you who are interested in actually seeing the process can check the video out! It’s definitely better to see in person, but you can get the idea.
I have been told that I have mad bargaining skills. Whenever you want to buy anything, in the market or on the side of the road, if it doesn’t have a marked price you have to bargain to get a fair price. This is especially hard for white people because we are always charged “muzungu” price, which is most times double the normal price. When I first started going to the market in Kyotera I had to bargain for everything. Now, I have my own vegetable ladies who charge me “muganda” price and even give me extra vegetables for free! I do all of my bargaining in Luganda, which usually gets me a really good price because the locals are so impressed I know their language.
A few highlights:
-When I was going to the market the other day a man punched m y arm as I walked by. Without even thinking about it, I turned around and punched his arm as hard as I could. Everyone thought it was hysterical, except for the man of course. He didn’t try to touch me again.
-After I finished bargaining for fabric, the shop keeper offered me one of her children.
-I went to a Rotaract club initiation celebration at my college. The entertainment was DJ from Kyotera who played a mix of Ugandan music and old American pop songs. The kids came up and danced while the LIP SYCHNED to the songs. This is a common, an rather humorous, form of entertainment here.
-I am in the process of starting a cooking club at my school where I will teach my students to cook American food and they will teach me to cook Ugandan food.
I love you all very much and think about you often. Thank you for your encouraging emails and for your thoughts and prayers, they’re what get me through the tough days. Thank you for the birthday letter, Kadi! It’s hanging on my wall. Happy birthday Angie, Sebastian, and Kelsey! Hope you guys each have a wonderful birthday! Hope everyone has a safe 4th of July. Shoot off some fireworks for all of us over here; we’ll be celebrating our country’s independence with you guys in spirit! Miss you guys!