I didn’t think digging the garden yesterday at training was any harder than shoveling snow, and I really enjoyed the laborious work over some of our past lectures. I’m looking forward to living here in Uganda and learning from the people and hopefully seeing a lot of work in action (not inaction). Things here have been coming easy so far, and I’m trying to keep a level head through everything. While language is tough, I’m enjoying the challenge.
I think by the time you read this post, I’d have long left training and my homestay, but I thought it would be a good idea to get this info on here anyway. I’m definitely not taking the time to write a lot on my blog at this point, but I’m feeling the time I’m spending time with my host family has been much more important. The lack of internet during training, and the amount of time I actually want to spend on the internet are both very minimal. I’ve actually just brought back my laptop home Week 4 to write some journals (yes, journals!) and teach one of my host brothers how to type.
We got a pretty nice set up here, much more than I was expecting, and would love to tell you about it, although it may be impossible to express the feeling of the cool morning breezes, a scrambled egg for breakfast with tea, sitting on the front lawn with the 3 boys and granddaughter my first day here, and the beautiful sunsets over the hills of Wakiso.
FYI, while we have electricity at the home, it shuts off periodically throughout some days without warning…like, wait a second, ok it just happened now. Ironic, eh…no really, it just happens a lot. We probably won’t have electricity for the rest of the night, but that just means the kids won’t watch Spanish soap operas dubbed in English on TV. And out comes the kerosene lanterns… The family also loves to laugh a lot, which makes everything much more comfortable.
Now to my home stay family…=]. My original host family was unable to host me. All 43 of the volunteers are placed with host-families here in the Wakiso Town, which is roughly 45-minutes by taxi ride from Kampala. I haven’t seen many other cities, villages, etc. in Uganda, so I don’t know how to compare it to other cities here, but it’s a mid-size town with a decent market. A lot of people, including our host mom, live here in Wakiso, but work in Kampala, since we are so close. Most stores here are street side venders or small 1-room stationary stores throughout town. There are some very poor families, while there are also some ppl relatively well off. While I never got the chance to meet my original home stay family, I suppose its best I didn’t. I think that changing or leaving after a few days if something came up would have been much tougher. I’m thankful for that, and the chance to stay where I’m currently at. Although there are two of us PCT’s here, the family was reluctant to even let me think I would be leaving. The hospitality of everyone here has been great, and I’m feeling a bit spoiled.
Here’s the new family…
Steve. Steve is another MI student from the South Florida Masters International program with Jim Milhelsik whom I am sharing a home stay with here in Wakiso. Since my family was unable to host a PCT, Steve’s family stepped up and brought me in. I don’t think I could have asked for a more comfortable setting than this one. Steve is also a relaxed guy, very realistic, and will also eat all the matooke we’re served. Steve’s definitely an outdoor guy, would off for sure liked the U.P. and is easy to get along with. While we talked about the experiences both of us thought we’d have at our home stay, and that having a roommate does feel like cheating, both of us have decided we’re okay with it as long as the family was...And…They were more than willing, and we’re even confused why I’d even ask. Again, very welcoming response to say to least.
Now to the family members and home. Steven and I were invited to live with Ms. Kalinda Betty and family. While direct relationships within the family can be tough to identify sometimes, our family is pretty straightforward and close, although it did take time. Ms. Kalinda Betty has 4 boys, 2 of which with live at home, 1 daughter who works away from home but comes home on the weekends, 1 adopted son, and a 7 year old granddaughter, which both live at home. Most families have what they call house-boys or house-girls, maids if you will, which help take care of all the chores, and may or may not go to school. Grandkids often also commonly live with their grandparents, as their parents may be away for work, or have passed away. We have a well educated family here, and the home is comfortable. We have electricity, most of the time, although no running water, but very nice ventilated pit latrines (VIPs). The showering (bucket) area is in the bathroom inside, but I’m beginning to notice most of us just bathe outdoors in other bathing areas. There are a total of 8 of us in the house, including Steven and myself, split between the main building (home) and the other boarding rooms split between a courtyard and kitchen. The compound is then enclosed by a concrete wall which separates it from the surrounding neighborhood, but keeps kids from running in and out of yards. The family has a number of rainwater tanks connected to the rain gutters from the roof, which store a significant amount of water. While we do have piped water (metered) into the compound, we don’t use it much since we do get so much “free” water from our tanks. Water is then used out of jerry-cans for all our uses.
William. By far one of the nicest, kindest, and hardest working persons I’ve met here. He’s one of my home stay brothers, 16 years old, and on school break right now. The friendship we have over this short amount of time is definitely something I’ll remember and miss. It’s amazing what he does for us, along with all the other chores like cooking, washing, cleaning, getting water (from their rainwater tanks), and going to school. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but I think William’s parents died from AIDS when he was younger, and has since been adopted by this family. He’s got two older brothers, both which live on their own. I’m not sure of the family’s connection, but he’s lived here for a few years and is treated like all the others boys. Unfortunately, his story is a common one here in Uganda. Nearly 50 percent of the population here is 15 years old or younger, mostly because of the impacts from HIV/AIDS. There’s been a lot of talk about the missing generation in Uganda, like his parents, at our training and it really shows in the community. William has become very interested in learning how to use a computer, so I’ve brought my laptop home with me so he can practice. While they have a theoretical section of computers in secondary school, he has not been able to use one himself. Don’t feel too bad for the family though, because it seems as though most of them have, or the older ones, know how to use a computer just fine. While I’d like to say Williams learning about the power of the computer, we seem to most enjoy just sharing music and just looking at pictures. With no internet access, there’s not much he can get in trouble with either. William also greets us when we get home, and since the family speaks the language I’m learning, Luganda, he is more than willing to help me practice. I usually do ask a lot of questions, but I don’t always right them down…
David is the oldest of the brothers at age 23, or so, I’m not sure. David has gone through all his teaching requirements to teach Economics at a local Primary school. He’s a great guy, dresses well, laughs a lot, likes music and dancing, and commands respect well. He’s very interested in learning, and almost reminds of me of the friendship I have with Edgar. David was the one who picked up Steve and I from the training site and does most of the work thru PC since our mom works in Kampala and is busy. It’s been great having David around and his brothers around to relate to at the house makes everything a little easier. Some things seem to relate no matter where you’re from. While he’s just the older brother, he plays a pretty prominent older male role, since there’s no Dad is around.
Achilles is the second oldest son, who is currently on break from his University. He definitely is the “cool” brother in the family, and probably most athletic. It’s great that all these guys speak English, because they all ask a lot of great questions. Achilles has been recently asking about NBA Basketball players taking medicine which makes them taller, or if the U.S. has also been affected by HIV/AIDS. I think he’s excited about heading back to school, but also glad to be around the family. We’ve been exchanging music a lot with one another, but I did need have to limit the amount of American R&B he wanted to share.
Joan. I’ve been really excited to talk about her, and can’t believe I haven’t yet. Joan is 7 years old, and living with her uncles and grandmother. She is amazing, and by far calls for most of the attention, and energy in the home. She’s incredibly well behaved, smart, and curious. I’ve seen a lot of kids her age here, and other places, very shy, but not her. She was playing Steven’s banjo within the first 15 minutes of us arriving. I don’t think I could say enough about her, or describe how cute she is in this post, and it’s already getting pretty long. I’ll definitely make sure to send some pictures of her along as well. And actually, her First Communion (Catholic family) is coming up on Sunday, so I’ll make sure to get some then. I’m planning on giving her some chocolate and other gifts I brought along, so I’m sure she’ll have plenty of energy. Maama Joan is Joan’s mother. I’m not sure of the age, but she works outside Wakiso during the week, and makes it back home with the family over the weekends. It’s short, but also precious to see how excited Joan gets when Maama Joan arrives. Overall, great family.
I’ve had my laptop at home this week and actually wrote this email over a 2-day period. The battery life has been good, but Steve and I have both blown out power transformers, which are used to convert the difference in electricity Uganda and the U.S. run on. Last thing I want to do at this point is fry some electronics, which I guess has already happened. Little things.