Monday, April 18, 2011

Annoying

We've been put to standfast, meaning that I can't leave site until after these demonstrations fizz out. The demonstrations seem to be getting more intense and wider spread each time they occur; currently they are being held every Monday and Thursday. As far as my safety, one need not worry. I live in a village's village, far away from all that crazy stuff.

Hammock making is causing me and everybody in the parish to act like chickens with our heads cut off. Life should return back to normal this week, and then I will be hosting daily sit-ins at the district to get this wahoo water engineer over to work on the well. I came up with many words before I settled with wahoo.

Power comes in 2 hour intervals, usually from 7-9 at night, then stays off until the next day. Sorry for all of those who are trying to reach me.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The fan has started spinning...

But as of yet, the proverbial material to hit it hasn't quite reached. Not for lack of effort, though.

Readers Digest version is that Uganda's leaders (led by Besigye, the runner up in the elections for the past 15 years) have been struggling against the Ugandan Police to hold demonstrations surrounding the rising fuel prices in the country. The walk to work campaign produced arrests and tear gas on Monday, and today rubber bullets were also used, specifically on Besigye himself, who broke (but probably won't lose, apparently) his middle finger off of one. We will pray that this is the apex of the excitement, and that only falling action and resolutions will come from this. I'll keep everyone updated. As of yet, we are on Alert but not officially on Standfast, with regard to Peace Corps.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lets Talk About Sex, Baby

Last Saturday I talked to a group of around 75 students of a nearby teachers' college about sex. We started off ominously enough, with me quoting a sex talk from Varsity Blues "Penis penis penis, Vagina vagina vagina." Although we didn't end up having anyone give alternative names for the male organ, I certainly was given some real doozey questions.

Most of these kids have already been taught a lot about sexual health, but they haven't really been able to ask anybody questions about it. In a land that is extremely conservative (I never see women wear anything besides skirts that go at least half way past the shin) and very non-pda (in 8 months I haven't seen a single heterosexual couple holding hands once in country), it's tough for these kids to get their answers. The questions, given that they are the ages of 20-23 and are living in a boarding style housing with their peers, are quite explicit, obviously incriminating of their current extra curricular activities.

After I gave them a couple of warm up exercises, I opened the floor to questioning. I spent about 30 minutes giving a small talk, and it then took a little over 2 hours to answer (most) of the questions given. The questions were extremely specific, and 90% of them I wouldn't feel comfortable posting them online. I will say that I dispelled many myths about apparent "safe days" of sex, about virgin women, and about the healing effects of coca-cola.

The coolest thing about this is that I would never have been able to give this talk had I been gently forced to do it by another volunteer in Rakai, Uganda. After completing it there, I realized how easy it was to do, and what an opportunity it was for the boys who came to talk and air out these issues. It also is a great bonding experience for me, and it was amazing to see what these kids would admit in front of their peers. One kid admitted, with serious worry, that his undersized penis wouldn't be able to satisfy women. Luckily, Jon Lesica had taught me a phrase that I said immediately: It's not the wand. It's the magician

Anyway, the talk was such a success (in pay-it-forward fashion, I gently forced another nearby volunteer to talk to the girls) that now I am going to combine the two classes this Saturday to have a talk about gender issues. Well, I think that's what it will be about. I'm basically going to talk about the differences most commonly found in gender roles of America/Uganda, and then I'm going to give both the girls and the boys a chance to ask 3 questions, no rules attached, to their peers of the opposite sex. I know it's only April, but I'm expecting fireworks.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Akim is Over

Sorry for the lack of posts. Internet has been unbelievably shotty ever since rainy season started. This, combined with the fact that I have to rely on the parish priest's desktop to get to the www makes my ability to communicate to the outside world quite difficult.

There has been an uproar of response sent my way from my last post, which I greatly appreciate. Most of the response has been positive, some negative, but the best were ones which challenged me to give examples of how to solve the problem that I have outlined. I have done some research and come up with a couple of different organizations who seem to be doing foreign aid in the correct way; through the goal of eradicating the need for the aid itself. www.Kiva.org, and www.appropriateprojects.com are two extremely good examples, and I will continue to post any other company's that I've seen doing good things around where I live.

As far as site goes: It's all happening! I am stuck trying to figure out what to write about exactly, because it's been so long since my last post substantive about happenings here in Ngora. We set up a weather station at my favorite primary school, continued communication to America with my 4th grade class, I've started teaching the teachers geography (they didn't like that the students were starting to know more than them, so now I'm backing off and teaching the teachers and letting them tell it to their kids), The tree seeds donated by trees4thefuture have been potted and the water well has been dug, fenced, and started to be used for construction (in the meantime, we are trying to appeal to the district for a borehole, checking the water, and trying to put in place a solid water committee to look after the well's maintenance). I am starting to build boomerangs out of scrap wood for kids here, in a continued effort on learning of geography (where is Australia? What is Australia?) and also a way for them to more easily hunt down the mangoes that are ripening on the trees. The biggest project right now is the Hammock business that has been started up; put your name on the list now, and you could be the first person state-side to own your very own, locally designed, high quality, unbreakable rip-stop hammock. All funds are going towards the continued education of the members of the group. More to come on this.

I was able to keep fairly updated on the NCAA tournament, although looking back I'm not sure why I made the effort. I heard that the final was possibly the ugliest national championship game in televised history, so it makes me feel a bit better that I wasn't able to see it. UNC made it further than Dook did, and lost only when they faced the best freshman money could buy...so I'll take that and look forward to next year's domination (granted that Barnes does in fact decide to stick around).

Thank you all for the packages that keep coming in. There was one in particular, which consisted of a pound of velveeta cheese, two thick crusted pizza crusts, tomato sauce...I could go on...which was not only beneficial to me, but to the entire parish.

Until next time,
Opolot