Been awhile since my last blog. For that I apologize; I didn’t realize how many people were keeping up with me through this media until I stop writing…and start receiving the questioning emails. Yes, I’m alive, and kicking quite well.
In honesty I’ve been really busy. There are many different branches which I am trying to balance on top of, with an intense stubbornness unwilling to admit that I’m stretching myself too thin on all sides. When you give a guy free reign on a country, and pay him enough salary to actually roam it at will, well, he’s bound to be pretty occupied.
A lot of my time currently is going into my house. I was able to commandeer a big slab of wood (freshly cut from a mammoth tree), and I’ve cut it into several pieces in order to make a desk. The cutting, with the crappy hand saw that I bought for the equivalent of 3 dollars, took some time. The hammering, with a head that falls off every third swing and nails that bend more than yoga instructors, wasn’t exactly efficient either. Luckily enough, Ugandans don’t understand what I’m saying when I curse. I have kept the scraggly edges and strips of bark, because I think it’s beautiful and an awesome contrast to the marble-eyed pattern it gives on its face; the Ugandan’s have decided that I’m either too lazy to cut it, or genuinely mixed up in style. “Why, if you have the ability to make something look factory made and uniform, would you not do so?” is what they seem to be asking…and the language barrier doesn’t allow me to answer in convincing enough of a fashion. In time, perhaps.
Another chunk of time is continuing with the orphans living in the women-headed household. I had the first meeting, and we set up another meeting for what was yesterday. My goal in these meetings is to continually remove myself from importance of my attendance, in hopes that the ownership will more and more be their own and less just coming because of the white guy in the front of the room. (I say room…we have our meetings under the mango tree, just like everyone else who has a meeting in Teso Region) In order to help with this, I brought along a government official who is the point-man of NUSAF-2, which is a government run grant application for the northern parts of Uganda. He and I show up to this meeting, to which I’m expecting to see the same group of 20 kids…and I find myself looking upon 205 children, all of whom are orphans, or living with HIV/AIDS from birth, or street children…it was unbelievable. The government official was absolutely ecstatic from the turn-out, and admitted that he has been trying to find a group like this for some time. Score one for Opolot Matthew? We’ll see. The spark has certainly been lit, and it’s bright enough to make you squint….just hope it gets enough air and attention in order to continue on.
The rest of my time is meetings. Meeting people is a full time job…or 3. One time every week or so my suspicion is confirmed in some odd, roundabout way that the people that I meet and become connected to are going to dictate my success in this country. I am realizing more and more that my successes will never be things that I will do, or I am going to be building, but rather the ones in which I helped bring together, facilitate, and let run.
Got to go to Soroti yesterday for a World Aids event, which was awesome. Lynne Mcdermott (spelling? Sorry Lynne) was the lady in charge of this event, as well as every other World Aids event sponsored by the US Embassy in the country. She was a PCV of Uganda in 03-05, and so it was really cool to have a person high up in the food chain of American’s in Uganda who also understands the things that we are going through on a personal level. She is also highly involved with PEPFAR, which pays for about 9 dimes out of a dollar on HIV/AIDS relief in Uganda….so she’s somebody I would very much like to get to know.
Right now a Youth Conference for the catholic diocese is being held in Ngora parish, aka my backyard. It was really excited in prospect, to get so many youths and people in one place to try and tell them about water and sanitation…but now that they are all here, and using part of my house for storage and the building directly adjacent my house for cooking…it is getting a bit old. Last night I was able to fall asleep only after the chants had died down at around 2am…but then I was woken again by a rousing version of “Jesus is coming” at about 4:30am. I am going to have to find a place to go, outside of Ngora, so that I don’t immediately lose my mind. I’ve gotten used to the magnified glass being put on me by my villagers, but when it’s multiplied by an additional 2500 kids below the age of 20…well, you get the idea.
Last night was amazing because I got to talk to Shay and Will, on the same night! I hadn’t talked to them in over 2 months, and since I’ve been in Uganda, respectively, so it was a great surprise to get to have some interaction with both of them. I also got in contact with Andrew Johnson, a fellow fraternity brother from home, who is in Kenya now for a documentary he is helping shoot. Trying to work out having him come down to UG for New Years.
Apparently my dth article got leaked to Peace Corps, and was put on the front page of the National Newsletter. I kind of hope that isn’t the truth, but if it is, cool? Haha I don’t know. Feel silly writing an article about Peace Corps to other PCV’s after being in country for less than 4 months, but I suppose I should be appreciative of the gesture.
ALSO, just saw that UNC beat Kentucky. Really hope that my uncle, Stephen, (A huge UK fan, who regularly attends the games) was calling my dad (UNC Alumni) beforehand with snide comments, because I know that my Dad called him after the game was over. Go heels.