How wrong I was to assume that I would have trouble coming back to Uganda to work after such a nice trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar for the holiday season. Not only did I not have trouble getting back to work; I found my mind more focused and my moral more set on doing the things that I've been talking about for so long.
I have been lucky enough to have been chosen among my peers as being a director for the next installment of Camp Build, a Boys Leadership Camp within Uganda. This one is a regional camp being held in the North, in Gulu, which is about 5 hours or so away from my site. It is certainly a big undertaking, and it is something that will become more and more time consuming up through its' week long commencement in the last days of April.
The other huge event in my life right now is the Centenary Jubilee Celebration within Ngora Parish. Ngora Parish, my site, is celebrating 100 years of Catholic faith 96 days from now, on May 5th (I know this because I've created a countdown out of plywood to help keep people reminded about its approach). There are buildings going up, a grotto is being constructed, schools are being renovated, all in the name of the celebration. It is quite an exciting time. I myself am chairman of two sub-committees for the planning core; publicity and sports.
We have already applied for a grant to have an educational 13 kilometer foot race, where every kilometer will host a sign depicting and explaining an important health aspect relevant to the citizens of Ngora for keeping themselves and others strong and healthy. At the end of the race the participants will be given an exam where they will answer questions in relation to the posters they passed, and they will receive a minute deduction in time for every answer they get correct. We are hopeful that the winner of the race will be congratulated by the President of Uganda himself.
We are also working on the organization on a 42 team District Wide football tournament, both as a measure to get the youth involved in the gathering and also to use that time as an opportunity to spread healthy life practices amongst the young adults.
On top of all of this, and certainly the biggest reason I've been having such a nice return to Uganda after my trip, is because of the ever approaching moment when my parents touch-down into Uganda. I am such a lucky person to have parents that are not only willing to put up with a 20-something hour plane ride to a 3rd world country in the midst of fairly regular political upheaval, riding all over in a car that would never be authorized to travel in America on roads that only mountain bikers would enjoy...but they are even willing to pay for it! Seriously, I am so absolutely thankful for my parents' support in this whole process of my service abroad; in no way shape or form could it have been possible without them. Them being able to come and experience the life that I now live is such a huge reward for me; it hasn't even happened yet and I feel as though I'll be eternally grateful for it.
There is also much promise in an NGO that just recently come to meet the community and to see their work at Okoboi Primary School. Shashamane Sunrise has been giving support to the school for renovating the roof and walls, making it actually habitable again (kids have been learning under trees for many years, now). I am blessed to have such a willing NGO that is also so willing to listen to the people who live in Ngora, and will co-operate them to give them the help that they actually need. I am very hopeful that my communication with them will lead to the development of one of the best schools in the country, and an example of how NGOs SHOULD be acting within a place like Uganda.
No, it hasn't all been fantastic, either. The borehole of Okoboi that Mrs. Kloer and her class were so instrumental in helping make is not being properly treated by the youth who are coming to use it. Ironically, if they break it, they will have to go back to traveling 2.5KM further to get their water...and also to bring it back. The water committee has been very good about raising money in case the borehole does break, which is certainly one aspect of being proactive...but another is making sure people don't break the damn thing. The Ass. Parish Priest and I have been on the rampage since we've seen kids jumping up and down on the pump rod, and trying to make sure that the community knows what will happen if they don't take care of it. Namely, the Priest and I will be taking the parts away and keeping them locked up in the house, and they can go back to having a hole with water.
Thats it for now. Power has been down for over a week, and internet has been even crappier than normal...so I'm sorry that my normal communication hasn't been there. I promise you that I am well, happy, and secure. For those that are reading this blog but aren't updating me on their lives...step it up! I would love to hear from you. M.firstname.lastname@example.org