Friday, July 20, 2012

Mortal Peace Corps Kombat

If Peace Corps was a Mortal Kombat game…

I’ve recently begun to compare my Peace Corps experience to the Midway Games classic, Mortal Kombat.  I feel that many aspects of the game ring true to how a Peace Corps Volunteer sometimes feels during his or her 2 years of service.  

You, the Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV), enter service with the excitement of a little schoolgirl on her first day in a new class.  You don your pretty dress (floor length skirt) and your new shoes (Chacos) that your mom bought you, and you absolutely KNOW that you’re going to do something worthwhile, save babies, make friends, sincerely help people, become completely immersed in the culture…and you’re pumped to get started.  The PC and the Volunteer start out on an even keel.  

 First rattle out of the box something knocks your clock.  You get a big ‘ol reality check punch in the face.  Boom!  You realize that what you thought you were going to do during your service is only a dream.  Everything that you had planned to do or thought you were going to do, every expectation, is crushed in a single blow.  Instead, you have to reevaluate the direction of your service, scrounge for meaningful work, and (gasp) ask for help.  This reality check depletes you of all of energy reserves, and you’re down in the dumps because the Peace Corps isn’t what you expected.  It takes you some time to get your mental energy back.  If you can take the initial beating, you come back with a renewed sense of purpose.  If not, you go back to America and cry into your pillow…or not…whatever.

 Shake it off!  With your determination on the rise and your new sense of purpose intact, you come back a different and better volunteer.  Reality enters the picture.  Now you’re ready to take a stab at the work that will ACTUALLY do some good in your community.  You’ve gained confidence, learned how to say, “I will NOT give you money” in the local language, and are ready to rock!  

You’re movin’ and a groovin’ now.  You’ve found your niche.  One hitch: with every one step forward, there seem to always be 2 steps back.  At first, this is ok.  “It will get better”, you tell yourself unconvincingly.  This doesn’t bother you at first.  You brush it off, the cool new volunteer that you are.  You barely even notice it.  It keeps building up.  6 months later, one step forward, two steps back.  12 months later, one step forward, 2 steps back.  Progress?  Yes? No?  Who knows?  You’ve been in such a groove, that when you finally look up, the real picture becomes clear: you’re frustrated and tired of being asked for money.  Before you know it, your mefloquine dreams have become your new reality and you’re slowly starting to pull your hair out and save it in a jar.  Desensitization has caused you to go insane…slowly by slowly.  You switch to Doxy.  Yes, your project is going well, but now your mental capabilities have been compromised.  Finally, you feel like you’re going to scream, and you do…and your head flies right off the handle.  This is when you seriously consider going back to America.  Time to dust yourself off again…

  Pick yourself up and dust yourself off…again.  You start back up with your projects where you left off before your mental decapitation.  They continue to go well.  You think, “this really isn’t so bad”.  Because it’s not.  The work you’re doing is rewarding, and no matter how many times you get reality check punched in the face, or how many times you pull your hair out and have a semi-mental breakdown, it will all be worth it in the end.  You bounce back, because that’s what a PCV does, and really…what other choice do you have?  You learn to roll with the punches.  You start your mornings by looking into the mirror and psyching yourself out by saying “I AM VOLUNTEER” to the tune of the Black Sabbath song, Ironman.  Nothing really phases you anymore.  You’re still here…duh.

   And you are ready.  Your time is winding down, and you only have a couple more months left in service.  “Wow”, you think.  “That went by fast….sort of”.  This is when you begin to reflect on your projects, their success/failure, what you would have done differently, etc.  You try to figure out if the Peace Corps “Finished” you, or if you “Finished” the Peace Corps.  In every scenario, you always come out the victor.  You spent 2 years of your life trying to help others, and whether you succeeded or failed is almost beside the point.  What matters is that you were here and that you tried.  You probably learned more and were changed more than the people you worked with…and that’s ok.  You blink, and It Is Finished.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Best Package Awards and Last Call for Mail

ATTN: Family, Friends, and Other (stalkers)

This is a Last Call announcement for sending any packages.  Those of you who have sent packages, thank you so much!  They are much appreciated and have made my experience in Uganda so much better, knowing people back home are thinking of me.  Now, for those of you who have not sent a know who you are!  This is your last chance to redeem yourself (only kidding*).

Because a package takes around 2-4 months to reach me, and my service is up in 3, I think that it's time to suspend any and all material forms of affection in the form of delicious packages full of goodies.  If you have a package already packed to the brim with granola bars just sitting on your kitchen counter waiting to be mailed, then by all means, go ahead and send it, mom.

Thanks again for all the packages, everyone!  I am now going to announce the winner of the "Best Package" contest that I just thought to invent, as well as the "Top 3 Best Items" contest...also just invented.  The prize is nothing, so get psyched.

Best Package: Caroline and Luke Jurgensen.  Granola bars out the wazoo, instant oatmeal, as well as an obscene amount of Starbucks instant coffee...topped off with a shirt from Polo on the Prairie.  The shirt is already super faded from wearing it tons + hand washing, the granola bars were gone within 24 hrs of their arrival, the box of oatmeal lasted almost a week, and the coffee has revolutionized my mornings.  The addition of caffeine to my diet has made me have super hero type alertness and I shake for no reason.  It's awesome!

Top 3 Best Items:
1. Pitty Pat - Copious amounts of GardettosI never realized how much I loved Gardettos, until I went without!  There were so many days where I would substitute a meal for a few little bags of Gardettos.  They acted as entire meals, mid day snacks, dessert, and (on occasion) breakfast.  I would hide them in a box when I had other volunteers over, because they would have seen them and gone straight at 'em.  Thanks, mom!

2. Di-La-La - Donna Karen Deodorant.  For real?  Designer deodorant that is awesome and costs $12.00 (you totally left the price tag on...MJ style)...yes please!  It has been my "special occasion" deodorant...and yes, that's a thing.  Also, those shirts you sent are awesome!  I absolutely love them and have worn them more than any others.

3. Michelle Pannell - Nutella on the Go.  I did not share...I did not take breaths while I ate it...and I did not space them out.  I ate them all at the same time.  Sooo good!  And I did, I confess, lick the container.  Crazy Love was one of the best books I've read while here, so thanks for sending that, too!

Honorable Mention: Will Holt, with the Almond and Chocolate Covered Cherry Trail Mix.  You're going to have to tell me where you get that so I can hoard it when I get home.

Congrats to the winners!

And one more THANK YOU for all of the packages.

* Or am I?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Bunch of Stuff

The end is near.  According to a super fancy spreadsheet I made one day, I have 127.47 days remaining.  That can also be expressed as 18.21 weeks, or 4.19 months.  Take your pick.  Time is dwindling.  I find out my official date of departure at my Close of Service conference that takes place in 1 month.  Stay tuned.  I might blog about it…..if I feel like it, and if I actually remember to.

I went to my first wedding/introduction ceremony.  It…was…so…boring!  Hours and hours and hours of sitting.  And then sitting some more.  It was very interesting to be a part of, and I am very thankful that I went.  I will not, however, be attending any others.  I arrived 2 hours late, and that, apparently, was still 6 hours too soon.  I'm partial to the 45 minute (max) ceremony common in America.  You're in, you're out, you go to the reception for free food and dancing.  Done.

Upon arrival, I was introduced to a few other people who accidentally showed up too early, and then was ushered to the VIP tent.  “Jane, you follow me.  You will sit with the important peoples.”  So, I followed.  The VIP tent was down the dirt road from where the rest of festivities were going on.  I was following this stranger down a dirt road.  I would walk a few steps, then look back to the colorful tents getting smaller in the distance.  A few steps later, I would look back again realizing that I was losing sight of witnesses…I mean other guests.  Finally, the tent for the “important peoples” was reached.  It was empty.  Yes, I was, apparently, the first of the important peoples to arrive.  I was told to sit down and remain there while someone goes to get me some food.  So, I wait….for an hour and a half.  While in the tent of the elite, I was once joined by a small child for about 5 minutes.  His mom picked him up before we could bond.  After I ate the food brought to me, I was ushered to the main area once again, where I was escorted to a specific tent for visitors.  There was some confusion as to whether I should sit under the "friends" tent, or the "visitors" tent.  Since I was still confused as to who was getting married, I opted for the visitor tent.  I sat here for 3 1/2 hours, waiting for stuff to start.  More people kept showing up...yet nothing was happening.  Then all of a sudden, an a man on a microphone started talking.  Another hour passed.  I leaned to my neighbor and asked, "When will this thing start?"  The response, "It has started."  Oh, well ok.  Apparently the man telling jokes on the microphone was conducting the ceremony.  I watched as women in dresses came out, danced in a circle, then knelt down.  Then men in suits came out, danced in a circle, then knelt down.  This went on for another hour.  My knees started hurting from being crunched by the chair in front of me.  I decided to make a break for it.  I stood up, scooted my way out of the row, and made like I was just trying to get closer to take a picture.  I snapped a picture to play along with my rouse, then headed to the back of the crowd.  The picture I snapped was half of a wall, half of the ceremony, but I didn't care at this point.  At the back, I met some nice ladies who were also secretly trying to leave.  We all left together discussing how long this ceremony was taking.  When I left, I'd been there for 8 hours. a boss.

I went for a weekend to Kisoro to hang with some cool gals.  We laid around, ate salami sandwiches, chocolate cake with strawberries and cream, fish fingers, awesome pasta, drank beer, laid around some more, hiked up a mountain one day, and hiked to a crater lake the next.  A great weekend!  

Public Transportation in Uganda is the same as it was when I first got here: Awesomely bad.  You sit squished up against your closest friends/strangers, hold babies that people hand you, gawk at the woman breastfeeding basically on you, cringe at the toddler peeing in the aisle (true story), and you accept it...because that's just the way it is.  The views along the way can absolutely take your breath away, but so can the BO.  It's quite an adventure, especially traveling by bus.  My last trip, I was graced with a seat in the very back...where it's like a roller coaster, feeling every speed bump, sharp turn, and unexpected breaking with a vengeance. 

I leave next week for my 1 week trip to beautiful Zanzibar, Tanzania.  If you don't know what or where that is, look it up.  I have big plans of relaxation, seafood, and scuba diving.  I'll probably have some fun pictures when I return!

Random conversation on AIM with Dad last week...and yes, I know that AIM is old news, but it is:

jennyscott15: enjoy your fancy food in your fancy house. 
carlbussy: I will with NO guilt or remorse
jennyscott15: fine.  just go
jennyscott15: but remember that your favorite daughter is suffering in poverty in dirt and grime with mice living in her mud brick house
jennyscott15: then see how your pancakes and coffee taste
carlbussy: good

It's the heartfelt love and support from the home front that really helps me through the rough times...

Monday, April 30, 2012

No Child Deserves to be Beaten

Today I had an awful experience.  
 In Uganda, it is culturally acceptable to beat your kids. I’m not talking about a spanking on the butt, I’m talking about things that would give you jail time in America.  I’ve seen people beat their kids with sticks, shoes, and water bottles.  I’ve seen adults slap, kick, and verbally abuse other people’s children.  To get over it, I have just had to tell myself that it’s part of the culture, and try not to let it bother me.  I even thought myself to be used to it, or desensitized to this aspect of Ugandan culture.  I no longer blink whenever I see a mother take off her shoe and chase her child around with it.
Today was different. 
My 11-year-old neighbor, Roger, was accused of stealing a small piece of candy from a shop across the street.  When his dad found out, he took him behind their house, which is 20 feet from mine, and beat him. 
I had seen the commotion outside of the shop, and knew that something serious was happening.  Seeing his dad walk from the shop and disappear behind the mud house with something in his hand, I knew what was to follow.  When I first heard the sound of the metal pipe hitting Roger, followed by his blood curdling screams, I became a frozen statue of panic on my porch.  Something happened inside of me and I became extremely angry and incredibly sad at the same time.  My muscles tensed up and I could feel moisture appearing in my eyes.  Hearing this happen, not 30 feet from where I was standing, and being powerless to stop it, was horrifying.  Should I say something?  Should I try to stop it?  No.  That would only make things worse, especially coming from an outsider.  I wanted so badly to intervene and to get Roger out of reach.  With strength that only comes from God, I stepped into my house, where I forced myself to stay, fists clenched, until it was over.   I found myself counting the strokes that were being dealt to Roger.  I stopped counting in the teens.  Never before in my life have I heard a child scream like this.  I found myself flinching with each hit I heard.  With silent tears of heartbreak coming down my face, all I could do was stand inside with my back against the door listening to the soundtrack of his screams, and ask for God to put his healing arms around him. 
No child deserves this. 

Friday the 13th: Not the Best Day to Travel

On Friday the 13th, I was traveling to meet up with friends for the weekend.  I took a few forms of public transportation, and 3 of them broke down.

Breakdown #1
Breakdown #1:  In order to avoid getting stopped by the traffic police, the driver decides to take a 30 minute detour through the back road banana plantations.  The roads are muddy from recent rains, he gets lost and has to ask for directions twice, and then our car stops with a jerk.  He tries to start it but with no luck.  We are out of gas.  Of course we are!  We went 30 minutes out of the way, then had to try to find our way back to somewhere familiar. The driver sends a guy on motorcycle into town to fill up a water bottle with petrol.  He returns 15 minutes later, we refuel, and we're on our way.

Breakdown #2
Breakdown #2: We're driving through an extremely muddy portion of dirt road, and we stop.  We can't go anywhere.  We're too heavy in the mud.  Everyone evacuates the car except for the driver, so that he can maneuver the mud without the weight of people.  We re-enter the car, drive a ways, then get out again so that he can get through the mud.  This goes on about 4 times, until the mud is cleared.  Finally, we're on our way again, but then "Whack!  Thump thump thump thump"....the fan belt breaks.  No big deal, the driver will just fix it with a razor blade.  How can this NOT work?  It's back in the car again, and we're off.  2 minutes later, "Whack!  Thump thump thump thump".  Confused at how his razor blade theory didn't hold up, the driver tries to fix the fan belt again...but this time with a double knot.  Perfect, right?  No.  It breaks 2 more times, and then the clutch goes out.  We're stuck on the side of a dirt road with a car that won't work because it now has 2 things wrong with it.  I immediately thank the driver for nothing, then hitch a ride to where I'm going. 

Breakdown #3
Breakdown #3:  In the pouring rain, the matatu decides that it is going to drive around looking for extra passengers...but only in the places where no passengers are ever likely to be.  After trying to understand the logic behind this, and failing, I try to convince myself that the driver and conductor know what they're doing.  They do live here, after all.  We see a person who doesn't look like they want or need a ride.  The conductor throws open the side door and yells, "Mbarara!?"  The person responds by ignoring him, which means no.  He tries to close the door...but it won't close.  The sliding side door of the matatu is stuck halfway between open and closed.  It won't budge either way.  It's pouring rain, mind you, and we're on some dirt road where nobody else in town happens to be.  We drive a little ways to another side street where there is a shop with tools and tires out front.  The driver gets out, and tries to explain our predicament.  Someone comes with tools to repair the problem.  15 minutes later, we are on our way with a door that works (and I use "works" very loosely).  45 minutes after that, we are back on the road to our destination. 

Public transportation in Uganda, ladies and gentlemen....let's give it a slow clap.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Kampala: The Capital City

5 Super duper things I’ve experienced in K’la.

1. I was run over…by a guy on roller blades. He came barreling around a corner out of nowhere, and BAM!...took me out. It was like a cross between an illegal hockey check that will get you 2 minutes and a wicked toe stump. Hard to picture….but try. It happened, and I lived to tell the tale.

2. A kid with a scale approached our table at a restaurant, offering to weigh us. For the low low price of a Bitano ($0.17), weigh yourself while you dine. Only one of us took him up on it. It was not I. I have a very special way to know if I’ve gained weight, and that is to put my jeans on occasionally and see if they fit…and it’s free.

3. I’ve had food poisoning in Kampala…twice. I’ve thrown up in some wonderful places and in some not so wonderful places. Try me.

4. I was told to “suck it” by a guy dressed like an American rapper after I told him to pull up his pants. He had previously tried to steal my sandwich outside of a grocery store at 12:30am. Said grocery store is extremely nice during the day, but, after midnight, transforms into a sketchy Wal-Mart type atmosphere.

This was our exchange:

“Muzungu, give me your sandwich.” (reaches for the delicious sandwich clutched in my hands)

“No, ssebo, this is my sandwich! (struggle to keep hold of my prized possession)…and pull up your pants.” (using hands and feet to keep him away and while keeping my sandwich out of reach)

“Ughh…Suck it!” (with a hand gesture as he walks away)

I deem this my most successful of cultural exchanges.

5. Thanks to Peace Corps legend, I have been introduced to a hole in the wall Ethiopian restaurant in the middle of someone’s living room.

Directions: Walk through the old taxi park down the curved side street. Turn right at the guest house sign. Walk through the brothel, past the father and son washing shoes, up the sketchy stairs, and under hanging laundry. Second door on your right. Sketchy jaunt to get there, but it sure is delicious…and cheap ($1.55 per person on avg.)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Jorts, Swimming Pools, and Computer Lessons

Last few weeks in a nutshell...

Inspired by some guy friends here with impeccable taste, I made myself some jorts. Used market Levis, some scissors, ten minutes, and…viola!. They are both pleasing to the eyes (actual amount of truth may vary) and extremely comfortable (truth!).

I now know why my neighbors are deathly afraid of the caterpillars. Walking around my house at night without my headlamp, I barefootedly (not a real word) stepped on one. Think of a tiny little porcupine that sticks you with tiny little tines of cactus. It took me 30 minutes with my headlamp and tweezers to get most of them out. A bunch stayed in my toes. It took about 2 weeks for my foot to forget they were there.

All 3 books of the Hunger Games: check! Loved them.

With a few friends, I visited some crater lakes in the Western region of Uganda. Beautiful scenery and a relaxing atmosphere made for a fun weekend. There were monkeys everywhere! Traveling back to my site, I saw a couple elephants on the side of the road…TIA.

For Cormacs birthday, I met up with some friends at a place called Kingfisher Lodge. They have a rockin’ pool on top of a hill that overlooks Queen Elizabeth National Park. Totally worth the 5,000 shillings it costs to swim.

At my site, work has picked up. My organization wanted to implement a computer training program, where people from the village can come in and learn how to use a computer, for a small fee. Because I’ve seen a computer made after the year 1998, I was deemed the computer genius and was put in charge of creating lesson plans and a curriculum. I now have a few students who come in for 1 hour a day, 5 days a week. Teaching introduction to computers is like teaching computers to my new cousin, Ford, whom I had no idea existed until a few days ago. Thanks, family, for keeping me in the loop. I didn’t even know Lindsey was preggers.

I love my PC service right now. I am actually working during the week, and I’m traveling throughout the country a couple times a month to do and see things I’ve always wanted to do and see but just never got around to. Because my service is on the down slope, I have to start thinking about life after Peace Corps. If anyone out there wants to hire me, let me know. I am now taking suggestions for career paths…

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Peace Corps Stickers

During holiday at home in America, I was asked to visit the Dallas Peace Corps office so that I could be interviewed about my service. So, the day of my departure from the Lone Star State, I swung by. I was able to see my recruiter, meet some of the staff working there, and answer some questions about my projects and time in Uganda.

While there, I might, or might not, have very politely made a stink that I hadn’t received a single piece of Peace Corps paraphernalia, and that until receiving the proper accoutrement, the questions that they had would go unanswered. Unanswered! Again, I was very polite and was half joking. My demand was for 1 Peace Corps sticker that I could ever so proudly slap on my Nalgene water bottle for the whole world to see. An acceptable request, yes?

After a few laughs about this ridiculous, yet half serious, demand, I was handed a tote bag. Contained by this bag of wonders was more Peace Corps gear than a measly $200/month volunteer like myself could ever imagine. Inside the tote bag was another tote bag (seriously), there were more patches than I could ever hope to iron on my North Face backpack, window decals for the car I don’t have, a wall calendar, a file folder, a water bottle (and not one of those crummy plastic ones!) to replace the one I’ll most likely lose, a keychain, and stickers. More stickers than the eye could fathom. There were about 50 sheets, 12 per sheet, of stickers. If my math serves me correctly, this comes to a total of exactly 3 million stickers.

Seeing this made my heart skip a beat. I thought this had to be a mistake…that they didn’t realize that their entire annual supply of stickers was now in my new tote bag within my other new tote bag. I said nothing…but merely nodded my acceptance of the contents, trying to stay calm and to regain control of my sweating. “Be cool”, I told myself…and we proceeded with the interview.

When I arrived back in Uganda, I felt that with this power comes a certain responsibility. I had to share the wealth of these stickers with other volunteers. I handed out a sheet to each volunteer I saw. It was majestic. I now had a purpose in Uganda, and my goal 2 was coming along quite nicely. With all of this advertising, I felt like I should get paid. Perhaps an extra $2.00 a month in my bank account? Yes, that would do nicely.

I made it slowly, but surely, back to my little village in the South Western region of Uganda. I unpacked my bags from Christmas break, arranged all of my things, and placed the remaining stickers on my bookshelf. Each day, they were just sitting there staring at me, judging, as if saddened by their being shelved. So, each day, without giving it any thought, I would put a sticker on something. The longer this went on, the more ridiculous places I would find that “needed” a sticker. I began to search for places to put a sticker. It became a habit; and not a good habit, but one that causes your friends and family to hold an intervention. I was expecting my neighbors to be gathered in my house one day when I arrived back from the market, all holding letters they had written to me in the local language about how my change in behavior has affected their lives. I wouldn’t have been able to understand them, but the point remains. I had a problem. I have since stopped putting stickers on everything, mostly because I'm running out of places. I have found, however, that if neighbor kids prove bothersome, slap a sticker on them and they become quite pleasant.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Christmas Update

I went to America for Christmas. (cue Team America theme song)

Ryan and I arrived in Dallas to be greeted by Caroline and Luke, my parents, and Everett. It was magical to see Caroline finally! The longest we’ve been apart so far. Never again, Line…never again!!

We had a 24 hr layover in Dallas before heading to South Carolina to visit Ryan’s fam. During this 24 hour layover, I bought new American clothes that fit my new African parasitic body, went out for delicious sushi, and took a shower with hot water! It was magical. Sushi was something I didn’t realize I would crave in Africa, but I totally did. 2 sushi rolls and a saki bomb made for a wonderful first meal.

South Carolina was great. I was able to meet Ryan’s family and friends as well as see where he grew up, his favorite places to eat, and his family church. Christmas with the Luckie’s was so relaxing. Quiet, low key, nice sit down dinner, and civilized…very different from my family Christmas. We are not quiet, low key, or extremely civilized.

Christmas in Texas was wonderful. I got to see family I haven’t seen in a year and a half, more specifically, my sister Laura…who surprised me when I got home, when we went to one of my favorite restaurants, the Bee Hive, on all you can eat shrimp night. The nieces and nephews have grown so much since I saw them last! It was fun to hang out with them and to get reacquainted with the younger ones. After Christmas, we spent a day at the ranch…my favorite place on earth. Being out there was what really made me feel like I was home. Playing Horseshoes, trivial pursuit, and 42 (domino game) with the fam made me so very happy.

It was sad to leave, but knowing all the wonderful things I have to come back to makes it all worth it.

Now since the two Christmas’s I had are so different from each other, I will include a picture comparison so that my 39 dedicated followers can see what I’m talking about.

Ryan and I in SC

Ryan and I in Texas

Luckie Family Picture

Everett Family Picture

See what I mean?

To sum up...Christmas was a blast. America is a wonderful place. I feel so blessed that I was born and raised in a land of opportunity and hot water.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Goings on at Site

I just want to give an update to my plethora of thirty-something followers of what it is that I'm actually doing at my site...besides saving babies, of course.

Peace by Piece
I am still working on the quilting project with a group of tailors in my village on quilt making. We have recently gone from Twin bed size to Double bed size as well. Agnes, the head honcho, is still the queen bee of the group and has begun to make enough money so that she can buy materials to make the quilts at a faster rate instead of waiting around to have enough scrap pieces. She's beginning to branch out with different patterns and it works. It's very cool to see an idea that I had (a year ago) on a whim progress to something that is, hopefully, going to be something that will be able to provide income even after I'm back at home.

Other PxP quilting groups are going great guns as well. After a marketing tour around Uganda, we have found some markets in different touristy cities. We're also participating in an Art/Craft fair in Jinja and a Craft fair at the US Embassy.

We are so very lucky to have this project and members who are excited about it and are actively participating.

Citizens Beading Group
5 groups of boys and 1 group of girls at the local High School have been working so hard to make as many necklaces and bracelets as they can before the school breaks for Christmas. The necklaces are made out of paper beads constructed from pages of magazines. The groups are way more into this than I ever imagined possible when I first had an interest meeting about it. We are now working on establishing local markets in Mbarara as well as experimenting with different sizes and types of beads we can make.

If anyone would like me to bring you a necklace when I'm home over Christmas, just let me know so that I can confer with the groups to decide how much to over charge you.

RUHEPAI Member Database
I have been, for a while, teaching the office administrator how to use Microsoft Excel with the hopes of her being able to create a database of member information as well as a log of those whom the office actively helps.

This sounded pretty good to me, as I was thinking in terms of American Time. Time that would have power 24/7. Time that wouldn't include rain delays. Time that wouldn't include 2 hour lunches and tea breaks 2 times per day. Silly, really...because I am in Uganda. Not America.


Ugandan time is a horse of a different color. So, in order to get this thing up and running before my close of service date (Oct. 19, 2012) or the country falls apart (soon-ish) and we're evacuated, I have decided to build the database myself while at the same time teaching the office how to build it, how to manage it, how to edit it, and how to use all of its functions. I used to be opposed to just doing things without teaching others to do it fist. Something about sustainability...

This way of thinking went out the window...and I adjusted my attitude for 3 reasons:
  1. I'm getting bored. I finished 2 books yesterday.
  2. I'm running out of time.
  3. My mom told me to. Yes mother, you were right*. Don't get excited.

* Actual amount of right-ness may vary