Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Yoga Kere

Wanted to let everybody who is interested know that I wrote a column that will be run in tomorrow's (Thursday's) Daily Tar Heel. I've been told every year of schooling that I am terribly wordy, poor with descriptions, and am never captivating enough; obviously writing an article for one of the best college newspapers in the country (me? biased?) is a logical step after not writing anything for the past 2 years.

Things at site have gone well. I am getting less "How you Musugun?" and more "Opolot, YOGA!!," which I am more than a little proud of. I am hopeful that after this weekend, there will be a charger in my hands that has capability to power my laptop, which I am more than a little excited about. Of course, I know my immediate family remembers the last time that I tried to have a replacement charger power my laptop (cue flashback to Will's creation of a charger being plugged in and, subsequently, my computer smoking and going black for all eternity)...so I admit to being...more than a little nervous about trying it.

I have also had some connections that I've made start to bear fruit. I biked over to CDC (Child Development Center) on a whim that I might be able to help with a survey that I had heard they were conducting in the area regarding water and sanitation. As it turns out, they had already completed the surveys of over 300 households (which, in Uganda life, means over 2500 residents) and were about to send the surveys in order to be summarized by people in Kampala. Would they let me steal the said surveys, then for the 2 days before they are shipped out? Sure! Two days of exceling later, I have some pretty good information and, for a philosophy major, not too bad of a spreadsheet with which to work off of.

I feel like I'm only showing the greener side of the pastures when writing the blog. I purposefully only write when I'm in a good mood, and things are going well, just so I don't start ranting and, in the process, freaking out Mother Boddie; with that said, things aren't always fantastic. I had my carabiner stolen (which is much more crippling than I would have thought)and I currently have no PC-allowed way to get into a town with actual supplies (PC doesn't allow the riding of boda-bodas, which are the motorcycle taxis. It's dangerous, and I agree with their policy...but it means a 22 KM minimum bike ride just to get mail, yoghurt, or a hammer and nails). I've gotten food poisoning twice now, and have started to think that the mefloquine I'm taking is affecting my ability to sleep. Being stared at by everyone you know, and being so obviously different than everyone in town, definitely takes it's toll as well. When working so hard to make a place so different a home, it's frustrating to know deep down you will never actually 'belong' to this area. Even if I live in Ngora for the rest of my life, it is simply the option that I have of leaving that could separate myself from the rest of my neighbors, neverminding the difference in education, language, and skin color.

So anyway. That stuff is in the back of my head, and sometimes it does get to me; for the most part, though, I'm really happy. The greatest part about living here is the simple potential that it possesses for me and the community. We both have so much to learn from one another. It is impossible, after really thinking, to feel like there is nothing for me to do. It's the question of how that I'll keep working on, and the question of what that will keep emerging itself to me with each passing day that I put myself in a position to see it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Roses and Thorns

Highlight of my day: Amy Wilkinson telling me that my charger did in fact reach her house in time for it to be carried with some PCV's to Uganda in a couple days' time.

Low of my day: http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/team/_/id/153/north-carolina-tar-heels

Going to see if Africa has gophers. So I can cook one for dinner.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

100th day

...or something like that.

Can't believe it is already November 20th, and about to begin the final month of the year. While in America the middle of November signals a return to the corduroy pants, whool scarfs, and other warm weather gear, here in Eastern Uganda we are settling in for the hot and dry season. Although the temperature doesn't get above 85, and the humidity is always at about 10% or less, the sun's direct rays provide enough sizzle to keep me under the shade for as long as possible.

There are so many sets of pools of ideas that I have put my toes into since being here. I have been continually considering, updating, renovating, and evolving several different IGA's that I think would be easily to implement, cheap to make, and have real possibility to sustain. I have started talks with the Water School of Uganda, in hopes of working out SO-DIS purification as a way to combat lack of drinking water and deforestation. I am also working on a syllabus for WWS (world wise schools) for next term so that I can link up my teachers to classrooms in Uganda. (TANGENT: If you are interested in working with me, and you are a teacher, SEND ME AN EMAIL!!! I am in contact with several schools, each with several teachers, all who would love to be a part of an American program supporting the exchange of cultural norms. I have lots of ideas and would love to share them with you. M.h.boddie@gmail.com)

I am also now well versed with LC1, who eats dinner at my house regularly,as well as the DHO (District Health Officer), Minister of Water and Sanitation for the District, Councellor of Ngora, Resident District Commissioner, Police Commander, NUSAF coordinator at the town council, Sr. Nurse at the local hospital, and so many other influential figures. This makes it much easier to think of ideas on the grandiose scale that my mind enjoys, but of course also makes everything I do ripple so much further in the small pond of Ngora. For now I'm trying to pull the levitation act, hoping that I will be given the time I need to gather respect at the lower levels of government and the community itself before these big-wigs start asking me to do a cannonball.

I have finally been made mobile; I have bought, and then the next day fixed, a second hand mountain bike that should work just fine. I have made a report with the local bike shop to let me use their tools when I need, and they are very happy just to have the local muzungu at their shop with nearly everyone in town staring. Walking around the town was a drag after the first hour; after 3 weeks, my skin was starting to sizzle even underneath the long sleeve button down and long pants.

Since said purchase, my life has really hit a different gear. That was awful. I am now traveling to Fredecarr (the local hospital, and the location of the district headquarters for health) once and twice a day, whereas normally it was a once a week trip due to it's hour long walking commute. Today marks the first day of Eastern Ugandan's house-house approach towards stopping the polio outbreak which was first confirmed a month previous. Ministry of Health and UNICEF have now come in to help with the task. It has been extremely enlightening to be able to sit in on the meetings. Today, the day of implementation, was even more enlightening (I am scared to think of another, more suitable word besides this) to be able to stand around the table while supplies were being passed out.

My house is nearly complete! I made the mistake of actually answering the question of what my favorite color was, when my priests asked me. I didn't realize that this color would result in me seeing nothing BUT this color in my house, a day later. Silly of me really, when I look back on it. Anywayyyyyy, as if the absolutely gorgeous Carolina Blue sky isn't enough for me everyday to wake up to, I will now have it in every room of my new house. Nothing could be finer...

Integration into my community is going extremely well. I'm pretty impressed with myself, with all honesty, in my ability to stay upbeat around town. Kids screaming muzungu is one thing, but when you're biking up a hill with the sun beating down in full business attire, and the damned kids just want to stare and look at you with something recognizant of Rambo's 1000 yard stare...lets just say it makes you want to test if they actually ARE as badass as Rambo. As of yet, no blow ups have occurred, though. I do have a sneaking suspicion that I'll be working out harder and harder, though...

I've also joined the ranks of the permanent soccer crew. Every night at around 5 I go out with the boys from the PTC (primary teachers college) and kick it around until they are called in for dinner. They are all of similar ages, maybe hovering around 3 or 4 years younger than myself. They are in much better apparent shape than me...so it's a good thing they are lazier than me too. Oh, playing in cleats while half the others plays barefoot doesn't hurt either. No, I absolutely do NOT feel bad about that. Come play with me. You'll find out quickly why.

My most frustrating set-back right now is that it seems my computer charger, that I paid arms and legs to reach a PCV's parents house in the states at a certain date so that it could be carried back with said PCV when she came back from her US vacatio, has not showed up on time. This puts me back at square one for finding a way to power my computer.

Most inspiring was definitely two younger ladies that came looking for me by name (Opolot, which has stuck like no other nickname before in my life...besides maybe cuerpo). They are both orphans, living in a house together. Suddenly, after taking in a fellow orphan who's parents had died of HIV/AIDS, they have woken up to find over 15 mouths in their kitchen, waiting to be fed. They are asking for ways to sustain themselves, wasy in which they will be able to make this work. What are they NOT doing? They aren't asking how to get these kids out of their home, or how to receive funding from America, or how I'm going to fix their problems. They are asking for a little coordination, and any possible ideas from the kid with new perspectives. What else were they not doing? Speaking in English. Thank you very much, asisiankinan Susan Oce; your teaching of Ateso has been so fundamental to any and every role that I have performed in this country, and there is nothing I am more appreciative of than your commitment to making me learn.

As for pictures, I'm sorry to say that my foresight while packing for this country was quite short (surprise surprise, right?), and I have no way of loading my pictures from my computer without the SD slot embedded into my laptop. Considering my laptop, as mentioned above, is out of commission...yeah. I'll work on it.

As for the future...
There are some small plans for me on this glorious Thanksgiving week coming up, which I'm super excited about. I am also, I'm proud to say, excited about staying at my site with noone else but my new family of Ugandans for Christmas. I have been hearing rumors about it since I have arrived, and there are few things that I'm anticipating more.


After quickly re-reading this, it sounds like I'm quite busy I'm sure. Cut out TV, the ability to deeply conversate with another person within a 20km radius, the internet, and a computer...then throw in the fact that I finished my last novel (Catcher in the Rye) of which I have in stock...and then consider my previous work schedule with Spanky's, Squids, and Psychology Lab Work...and you'll see that my days are quite empty. Send emails, send texts, all will be welcome...even if I can't see them or get them for a few days time.

New number. +256757817300 (zain line)
+256700797157(Warid line-shitty service in my site, but cheapest and easiest to use in a more urban setting)

My MTN line (the first number I had) is currently not in my phone, so it won't be picked up. If I change, which I inevitably will in the next couple of weeks for some reason, I'll let you know.

Gotta go. Need to look up the process of starting to grow dreadlocks before I get kicked off the internet...

Awanyunos bobo lukapolok kede nukapolok,
Opolot

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ngora else I'd rather be

So after 26 hours of traveling, a week in Lweza, 10 weeks in Wakiso, I've finally started to settle down in the location where I'm actually supposed to live. It's been quite the experience, and I'm happy to say that thngs are going quite well.

One of the things I've learned is to stop being surprised when crazy things do happen here in Uganda. I still get annoyed by them, like when I lose all of my electrically useful instruments, but I'm no longer saying "where the hell AM I! What is going on!" I kind of just accept it for being part of the location and living conditions that I have, after all, volunteered for. I am typing this as a goat is being chased out of the house where I am living, by the 3 year old daughter of the house maid. Said 3 year old, Orelia, has just finished her first cup of Ajon, which is the local Teso brew. Yes, it's acoholic. I know. I'm working on getting the mother to stop her.

Life here has been extremely busy, if not efficient. I have been to tons of meetings, and each time I find myself sitting in the middle of a group of people, shoulder to shoulder, for something like 4-5 hours. This would be fine if they were speaking in a language that I could actually understand, OR if all of them weren't staring at me every chance they get. I have counteracted this experience with copying down copius amounts of symbolic logic problems into my "waste time" notebook, which I'm able to write in and seem busy.

The meetings are not useless, however. I am meeting the people that I am going to be working with, around, through, over, and under in the next two years. Many of these people who are found in meetings are present in several others; it seems it is a group of about 20 people in Ngora that pretty much run the place in every aspect. I am very proud and very happy to say that my supervisor is absolutely one of these 20. There are many doors that are continually opened each day, because of him and because of my ateso speech that is ever-growing in size and vocabulary.

I have also gotten into a bit of a groove, with regards to my daily routine. I usually wake up around 5:30, work out until around 6 or 6:30, then shower and (most likely) fall back asleep until around 7:30. I go and sit on the veranda of the father's house, where I write in my journal about yesterday and the days goals. Then I eat breakfast. There is a huge block of time in between 8 and around 2 which always, always gets filled with something that I'm not planning on. Then after lunch, at around 3, I always always get hit with something that I am supposed to be attending and am "being waited on" for. At 7 I take tea, and at 9 I eat dinner with my boys.

Ah, my boys. Where I live right now might be thought of as the living quarters for the father of the church, but it could much more easily and accurately be described as a fraternity lodge. There are 5 guys living inside the house, along with a house maid and the daughter mentioned earlier; there is also another father that lives around 20 feet away who frequents our lodge. The boys and I drink Ajon pretty much at will, and I'm constantly having to turn down bottles of more domesticated beer (much to the dismay of one of the Fathers-in-training). It's all quite a good time, to be honest.

The house becomes closer to completion after each day. The water is set up, and the plaster is done; the veranda concrete is layed and cured. All that is left is a fresh bucket of paint, a possible power supply, and a cleaning out followed by a moving in. I give it a couple of weeks, but I think I'll be very very happy there.

Am in the process of writing an article for DTH (UNC's college newspaper). I'll let you know if it actually comes to fruition. Also got some news from swearing in, and you get to see my pearly whites on the front page:
http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/19/736210

Does anybody have an online susbcription to the Economist? I'm feel like now that I'm other-worldly, I should try and become a bit more worldly while I'm here. If I can get the online subscription, I'd be able to print it out each week at a local duka. Thanks!

-Cuerpo

Friday, November 5, 2010

Argh!

In a matter of 30 minutes, I was convinced that I had destroyed: phone charger, phone, computer, computer charger, and solar lamp. Luckily I fixed my phone and my computer wasn't broken...but that still leaves the charger to both. Thus, I will be a bit out of contact for the next few weeks. I am using the Father's computer now, and don't like bothering him about it (we are running the generator just for me, currently). More back later! Thanks for the birthday wishes!!