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

September 30, 2010

presentation preparations

Filed under: Peace Corps,Uganda — Jeff @ 4:26 am

Only two days left before I learn which organization I will be working with for the next two years . . . two very long days. This afternoon we had optional sessions. I’ll use the time to complete my presentation for tomorrow as I’ve completely changed the idea that I will share based on a couple of great field trips we have had in the past couple of days. I’ll share more later. But first I have to finish my research and prepare a few slides. I’ll upload photos hopefully within the next couple of weeks — once I find out what type of service is available in the town/village in which I am placed

September 28, 2010


Filed under: Peace Corps,Uganda — Jeff @ 2:05 am

Last Wednesday was trivia night at the local bar and I was part of the team to create questions. Since, we had the day off, I spent most of the afternoon drinking beer and writing trivia. Just before four I headed home to bathe and change my clothes. When I got home, the gate was flung wide open and there were two cars parked in the yard with many people milling about. I thought nothing of it at the time, focused on getting ready for my night out. I was later to learn that my host mom was in labor that afternoon. J had run out to the garage to start the car only to not have it turn over. So all the hysteria was about jumping the car so that J could take my host mom to the hospital to deliver a baby girl. I’ll write more when power is restored at my house. Yeah the line got cut Friday and I am now adjusting to no running water or electricity.

September 21, 2010

valentines in September?

Filed under: Peace Corps,Uganda — Jeff @ 9:56 am

I talked to my sister Jessica yesterday for about 20 minutes. She says that I need to write more often. One of the other trainees days tells me that my posts are way too short. Here goes.

A few weeks ago some of the trainees instituted a mailbox system where we can leave encouraging notes for each other. I thought the idea was a bit sophomoric at the time but was turned around when I began receiving some very encouraging love grams. I began to write notes to others as well. Today I received one of my favorites:

Jeff, You can come across as quite cynical at times. But you also come across as someone who cares deeply about things. I like that dichotomy. Good luck.

I guess I see that a lot in my life lately. I am passionate and at times pig-headed. When I feel for something or someone, it is not fleeting. I come from a conservative home where I learned strong ethics and values. My politics are generally progressive. I have a deep personal faith. It is difficult even for me to wrestle with how my heart, my mind, and my soul match up. For others it sometimes seems absurd. The way that I think and act do not always line up squarely with their perception of my religious tradition or culture.

On another note, Uganda is incredible. Every day is something new. Danced at legit clubs all weekend. Crashed Sunday; did little but laundry. Returned to class yesterday. And it was good. OK — maybe not all so good. After a very productive first session on Monday, the trainers decided to break out a ridiculous schedule of language assessments for this week. Panic. They are bringing in native speakers on Thursday to converse with us one-on-one. On Friday we have a mock LTI. I am definitely not prepared for this.

This morning our economic development session was cancelled so I ended up with a private language tutoring session while the health volunteers learned about HIV and nutrition. For the first time in weeks I feel like I am making progress. Well back to class. Perhaps more later.

September 17, 2010

You are now free to move about the country

Filed under: Peace Corps,Uganda — Jeff @ 9:27 am

This week marks the first that I have left the central part of Uganda. On Tuesday Josh and I headed out west to stay with Matt near Fort Portal. The last few days have been a welcome break from the intensity of training. All in all a very chill week. Something I definitely needed. We hiked, visited a SACCO, mill, bicycle repair shop, and coffee farm. Matt also let us participate with a local women’s group. He demonstrated liquid fertilizer production for them. Then the group danced and sang to welcome us to the community. Afterward we chatted about life back in the states and, of course, why none of us are yet married.

September 5, 2010

Another week in Uganda

Filed under: Peace Corps,Uganda — Jeff @ 1:09 pm

Monday 30 August 2010

The last two days have been very good. Sundays are pretty chill here in Wakiso. In the afternoon, I began reviewing my Runkanyore notes. Surprisingly relaxed, I left for Dan’s birthday party and enjoyed cake and soda, a welcome change from the night before. Conversations with Dan and J late into the evening were fruitful. Positivity continued throughout the day today as I relished my last language lessons with Richard. After classes, I found the laundromat and dropped off a couple of pairs of pants and three shirts. It’ll be nice to have some freshly pressed clothes for class on Wednesday. The five-year-old has become more talkative. I leave my bedroom door open when studying so that he can come in and interrupt. Family dynamics are still strange. I joke about the fact that my food magically appears twice a day but it is strange to me that I’m not quite sure where or how it is made.

Saturday 4 September 2010

This week has flown by. Yesterday the health and the econ folks went to two different NGOs to get a first-hand look at how the organizations are implementing policy on the ground. I visited a women’s group who built an oven last year to bake bread twice a week. We talked for hours and visited the nearby farmyard where they have implemented a urine diversion system in the cow paddock and are practicing permagardening techniques by grazing pigs and chickens together in the ebitooke grove. Earlier in the week I visited a failing restaurant to begin a consulting project. I’m convinced that what we need here is Dunkin’ Donuts.

Sunday 5 September 2010

On Saturday a group of us journeyed up to the rec center. It is situated on a hill about three kilometers from my house. I brought my host brother with me. He grabbed two of my fingers halfway to the rec center and held on until we reached the pool. We had a really great time poolside in the sun — drinking beer (me), water (him), and a plate of barbecued chicken and chips (each). What an incredible feeling of freedom to jump into a pool full of water! On the way home my host bro grabbed and latched onto my hand again. Then, this morning, as I was washing my sheets and towel, he talked nonstop. Finishing my laundry, I left for a walk to Gombe hill where I read aloud to the birds. Stopped by Dan Pop’s house to chat on the porch and — in Wakiso town — joined Gary and Nick in their search for a brewed cup of coffee. My host bro greeted me with a running bear hug when I arrived home. I think I may have just made my first Ugandan friend.

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