How to make a friend in Uganda. business consultant, NGO worker, former Peace Corps volunteer, activist: searching for sustainable solutions to eradicate extreme poverty

August 28, 2010

WEEK 2 — This is Africa?

Filed under: Peace Corps,Uganda — Jeff @ 6:38 am

Thank you to all that read this blog, especially to those parents, friends, and family members who have a trainee in my class. Welcome! Expect posts to be disjointed, brief, and random. And to all those I left behind: you are in my thoughts and prayers. Write and tell me about life at home. Photos to come.

Sunday 15 August 2010 6:54PM

Losing sleep. Worried whether I can succeed in this new endeavor. The struggle is not intellectual or physical but emotional. Seeing ugliness in myself I haven’t noticed in a long time. This is hard. With all the busyness I stay awake late at night to ponder these thoughts. I really wish I hadn’t said those words. I guess there are a lot of words I’d like to take back. My fellow trainees are my only comfort. Tired. So very tired. Didn’t start dreaming until after the morning call to worship — sometime after 4AM. And then I was back up before 7 to get ready for a day trip to Kampala with a group of four and a guide. Lots and lots of walking. Found an internet cafe and a coffee shop, the post office and two taxi parks (old and new). Stopped at a shopping mall to buy a phone.

Monday 16 August 2010

I’ll be living with J and his family for the next two months. Today I met my host “mom” at the training center and rode with her to my new, temporary home. Soon after we arrived, K and I sat down to take water and conversation was slow. Decided to unpack my suitcase and make my bed. Then all of a sudden we were walking down the road to Wakiso to buy a wash basin. I could’t keep pace. Walking was as awkward as the conversation. We met up with Lisa and Mama F to shop. I hadn’t brought any cash with me, so Lisa paid for my wash basin. The women chuckled. Soon thereafter, K returned to her shop and the rest of us continued down the road to meet up with Mama F’s son. As we came near we could hear the clammer of a drum circle. We sache’d our way through. But F’s son was nowhere to be seen. We found a bench outside outside the bar and each sucked up a bag of yoghurt. Finished, we entered. Apparently we had drawn some attention. Shortly after sitting down at a table, a gentleman idled down across from Lisa and I, and his kids knelt before us. The man was talking rapidly and I could not understand him. I asked Mama F to explain and she chuckled again as she relayed that he wanted Lisa and I to adopt his kids. I wasn’t about to take him up on his offer, explaining that I had neither the money nor home necessary to raise two children. I tried to brush off the request with humor but to no avail. We left with the father still pleading his case.

The youngest keeps crying. I try to speak and it only makes it worse.

I am lucky to have Bryce, Tien, and Aregnaz living in my village along with Lisa. Today I visited their homes and met their host families. Each morning we plan to gather and walk to school together.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

I feel like I’m breaking through some of the barriers to communication at my house. The houseboy eagerly greeted me when I arrived home at 7:15 tonight — on my bike. That’s right! I have a new bicycle and I could not be more excited. We rode into Wasila after training and had a few beers with a couple of volunteers who are in town to lead a training class tomorrow. Our bikes have wide tires with huge treads that are great for the deeply rutted roads that we need to transverse. Tomorrow the group from my village is leaving on foot. I’ll try to capture some more pics of the incredible sunrise as we walk the trail through the bush.

Thursday 19 August 2010

Building relationships is all about trust. Today I took what I felt was a big step in friendship with another trainee. I had little choice. It’s hard to keep who you are at the core — your identity — private. I try to be as open as I can but the result can prove painful. I’m hoping that in time that I can learn who to trust so that I can build lasting friendships with both nationals and fellow trainees/volunteers.

Friday 20 August 2010

Laughter at the dinner table.

Saturday 21 August 2010

I’m finding that life in Wakiso is so much more dignified than in the States.

Uganda is beautiful beyond my expectations.

Today Lisa and I joined Mama F at an Anglican baptism, which led to a celebratory party. I was supposed to be J’s “plus one” but he unexpectedly had to work. Lisa and I were both wowed beyond our expectations as we passed through the gates to the house for the the reception. We had not yet seen or expected such extravagance in our little town. Large party tents were set up along with a bouncy castle for the kids. Who knew a baptism could be so much fun? The food was amaaaazing. I ate the rarest beef I’ve had in weeks. It melted in my mouth. Ummm.

I love the Peace Corps.

As Lisa and I prepared to leave the party, the absurd happened. The theme from Disney’s Lion King blared from the speakers as a costumed performer danced in the yard with a multitude of children following him. Shakira came next and we walked out to Alicia Keys. Me dancing all the way.

Sunday (morning) 22 August 2010

Off to the market. Later I’ll meet up with friends to study and converse. Laundry.

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Its very early in the morning and I can’t sleep. Yesterday I kissed barbed wire. Hoping for a softer target today.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Sweet rejection. I did not come to Uganda looking for love or romance. Unexpected as those feelings were, I’m finding that I may be more open to explore what might happen.

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