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

November 18, 2010

finding identity.

Filed under: Peace Corps,Uganda — Jeff @ 11:36 am

Funny isn’t it how living in a foreign place causes one to question and better define their identity?

I cannot escape the color of my skin. It differentiates me instantly from everyone in the valley. I am quite sure that many of the locals I meet everyday have never seen a person with skin as light as mine. Little girls giggle. Older boys stare with suspicion.

As well, the effects of colonialism are everywhere. Yesterday, while visiting a family in a nearby village, the woman asked: “Do you think that we are animals because of the color of our skin?” At first I smiled as they were. Then, as the phrase was translated, I felt disturbed. Speechless. It is not just the evil of the expression that nauseates me; it is that the woman held the perception that my heart might contain that filth.

The flip side is that my mere presence holds such high esteem. Sharing a meal or simply walking or conversing with a villager gives them bragging rights. My counterpart says that by accompanying him, clients are more forthright about why they cannot repay their loans. Everyone asks if I will spend the night. I am a highly sought commodity.

If I am to find my place within this community, I will have to first break down these stereotypes and prejudices.

November 9, 2010

Everyone looks the same in the dark.

Filed under: Peace Corps,Uganda — Jeff @ 11:17 am

Hey y’all! Thanks for following my updates here. I moved into my wee little village just a few weeks ago and am loving it. Sure language is difficult and it can be hard to find work, but overall it really is stellar!!! I’m also so happy that I don’t have to go through this alone. Even in the short time I’ve been here in Sheema, I’ve had the chance to go out on a few shopping trips with friends from training and even eat a hamburger or two. Should have packed another suitcase. I’m realizing now that my clothes are wearing out pretty fast. My mom and older sis, Jen, went on a shopping spree Sunday and promise to send me two shirts. I might also have one or two made.

As you can see below, the mountains that surround my house are beautiful. I literally didn’t have to walk more than a couple hundred yards to take each of the photos. Uganda is a pretty amazing place. I hope to explore more of it soon. I just carved up my first pineapple. It sure was sweet. This weekend some of the Peer Support Network folks are hosting a welcome party for us newbies. I’m pretty hyped to see some of the friends I made during training and meet other folks from the area as well. It’ll be the first night I don’t sleep at my house since I moved in.

Enjoy the snaps and write back. Life is pretty slow here so there hasn’t been a whole lot to report yet. Except that I might be closer to my goal. My neighbor and I talk just about every night.

through the matoke tree
mountains fenced in
matoke and beans

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