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

February 7, 2011

brick by brick

Filed under: Peace Corps,Uganda — Jeff @ 12:24 pm

Just about every four or five days I hit a mental wall. I can’t take the isolation and loneliness any more. Then something happens that picks me right back up. I meet a potential new friend in the village. I talk to someone about a new project. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a trip into Mbarara and finding a package in the mail.

Thanks to those who have sent something. It really does make life out in the country a bit more bearable. Months ago Becca sent me a package with rockstar stickers … err, Jonas Brother stickers. I put a few select stickers on my phone and have a constant reminder of my live in Boston every time I check the time. Maps from home adorn the walls in my sit & stare room.

This weekend was a mzungu weekend. I travelled to Fort Portal and then stopped in Kasese on the way back to see some fellow volunteers. It was good to reconnect, get ideas for projects, and give advise for others. I wore my new jeans with some of my favorite t-shirts all weekend — what a release. However, my greatest joy as you might expect is in forging relationships with nationals.

If I do nothing else, I’d love to create a few life-long friendships. Those are in the making. As I wrote before, physicality between men is open and understood. More importantly, emotional intimacy is also somewhat easy to achieve over many months. I have found great trust and honesty in these relationships. The stories I hear sometimes break my heart. It’s not just travails of poverty but also of love, broken hearts, and assault.

Last week I had the opportunity to redesign the bank’s front office:

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