To never have to start a sentence with "I wish I would have..."


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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Just another day in Uganda...

A lot of people have been asking me what a typical day in Uganda is like. Ask any PCV and they'll tell you there's really no such thing as "typical" in Uganda. Today, however, was an exceptionally amazing day so I'll use it as an example that will hopefully give you a better idea of what life can be like here.

Sunday usually means laundry day. I gathered all my dirty clothes from the past two weeks and proceeded to wash hand. By now, I have a pretty good system for laundry where I set up outside on my back porch: clothes basket with dirty clothes, wash basin with soapy water, wash basin with clean rinse water. The whole process takes about an hour. I wash each piece by hand, whites first then darks and finally towels. I hang everything (minus "unmentionables," which are hung on an indoor clothesline) on a clothesline behind my house. On a good day, with lots of sunshine and no clouds or rain, my cloths are usually dry a little after lunch.

After I finished washing, I worked out. P90X is my new favorite thing in Uganda, especially the cardio workout...that thing kicks my butt! And, thanks to some gracious PCV who donated an old pair of tennies to the PC grab box, I finally have a pair of running shoes! I didn't realize how much I'd been missing them until I got them and, trust me, I am using them every day. I finished up my workout and made breakfast, oatmeal with wheat bran and peanut butter.

I recently got a package from Grandma that had some coloring books and crayons in it. I took a book and a box of crayons next door to color with Jackie and Joy. They had a blast! They watched me color and then somehow copied me by staying inside the lines of the pictures instead of scribbling all over the page. Martha, the girls' mom, heard us laughing and came out to see what was going on. She ended up coloring, too. We were all sitting on Martha's front porch when Sister Immaculate, one of the supervisors at the health center, came over to see what we were doing. She got so excited about the pictures that she asked me if I would do the same thing at the children's ward with the patients about to be discharged.

I couldn't have been happier. By this point in my service, I've kind of backed off proposing project ideas because I've found that things work much better when people approach me with an idea. When they take ownership over a project proposal they become invested and don't want to see it fail whereas if I suggest something and it falls through, they aren't the ones failing...I am. The fact that Sr. Immaculate not only pitched an idea to me but was excited about it has a lot of potential for success. New project: arts and crafts at the health center in the children's ward!

Side note: Sr. Immaculate walked me back to my house and started asking questions about Afripads. She wants to start selling them in the canteen at the health center to raise money for the children's ward. Again, even thought this is a project I am 100% behind and have even suggested in the past, the idea came from Sr Immaculate which means that it has the potential to be sustainable.

Namusisi, one of my best friends and fellow tutors at the college, came by to visit me. We sat on the porch and made plans to walk to town tomorrow and go to the market. She went home and I read for a while in my hammock outside.

So that was my day. Granted, it was a Sunday and I didn't have any classes to teach. It may seem boring or slow or whatever you want to call it, but it was a good day for me. I take my victories where I can get them and seeing community members comfortable enough to approach me with project ideas is a huge victory. How did you spend your Sunday?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tugenda kusiiga bifaananyi!

I am writing this post with a very happy and excited heart. It's grant was approved today and we'll be painting 7 murals in Biikira! I had a meeting with the tutors at the college and I think they were more excited about planning the project than I was (shocker, you all know how I feel about planning!!). Here's a rundown of the project:

We'll be working with students at the college to illustrate messages that educate the community on the spread of HIV/AIDS and how to avoid putting yourself at risk. The students will be working together in groups to come up with 7 different pictures to be painted throughout the village. I'm hoping to have an HIV lesson in the upcoming weeks and have the pictures finished before the students leave for holiday, around Easter. When the return for 2nd term at the end of May we'll prep the sites with plaster and background paint then paint outlines of the pictures on the walls so that on June 11th, when all of my wonderful Peace Corps friends and staff will be making the trek down here, we will work together to basically do a paint by number to complete the project.

I am ecstatic! Not only for the knowledge we will be spreading to the community but mainly for the fact that my tutors are completely and 100% on board with this project! They are taking complete ownership and making plans to involve the entire community. They even want to turn the weekend into a whole HIV education event, including teaching life skills to the youth and having the health center host an HIV testing fair. I couldn't be more proud of them.

More to come and expect TONS of pictures!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Love y'all so much,