It is such a shame that I've been so bad about writing these past 3 and a half months; they have been fantastic. I have learned so much, done so many things, traveled to so many places. They have also been scary; so many volunteers have left, so many projects have gone a way I would have considered, at the time, to be "wrong." All kinds of things have happened. I'll try and give some highlights, which I'm hoping will serve to enlighten those of you who rely on my blogs to keep up with me, and also to encourage me to start writing more commonly.
Wow, my parents came!!! I remember trying to convince my parents to write a blog post in for me, to describe their experience. Quite obviously, that didn't actually happen. Luckily, my dad ("paparazzi") has millions of words worth of pictures up on his website, http://www.flickr.com/photos/lee_boddie/sets/.
Anyway, I believe that they had a good time in Uganda. We certainly did a lot of moving around; from Entebbe to Kayunga, Kayunga to Murchison Falls, Murchison Falls to Ngora, Ngora to Jinja, and Jinja back to KLA and Entebbe...there wasn't much room for playing around. That being said, it was absolutely fantastic getting to see them, and extremely special to get to show them around my home, and this country I have gotten to know so well.
In March and April, people started to head out from the PC group ahead of the one I came with. For whatever reason, it was this group with which I became attached; by the end of their service, most newer volunteers were assuming that I would be leaving as well; they didn't realize I came 6 months later. There was such an abundance of amazing people in this group that I got along with instantly; it made it pretty tough to see them go. Because of all the time I spent with them, it also meant the lack of time I had spent with other groups, including my own. All of a sudden, now, I find myself without many people from which I know all that well. Anyway, this is not to say that I am doing poorly now, but moreso to appreciate the time I had with such an amazing group of people.
Also around this time, it was decided that I would be taking a dog. It was meant to be shipped back to the states with a friend who'd be leaving in a few weeks after I received him, and so it wouldn't be a big deal. I was pumped, because it has always been a dream to have a dog and I knew this one to be pretty awesome. Thus, Buzi and I were bonded. Getting him up to Ngora by way of a 14 hour travel day was not exactly the easiest or the fondest memory that I have of Uganda.
The day before I was going to take him to Kampala to be loaded with this friend, we found out that the airlines cannot take the dog after all, because the cargo hold isn't pressurized. Well. Hmm. Hey Buzi (this is his name), feel like sticking around for awhile?!?!? Buzi has been with me since, and we've been having a hell of a time. Midnight trail runs in the rain, rock climbing up the boulders around town, chasing pigs dogs people and cow away from the parish, it's been awesome. Still trying to find a way to get the poor guy back to his mother; plans are changing constantly on this front. We shall see. For now, I'm pretty happy to have a partner in crime.
Anyway, right after I got the word that the dog was not going to be leaving, the (albeit planned) nuts weeks commenced. I was director of a camp in Northern Uganda which aims at inspiring motivating and empowering boy-youth to be more self-reliant and more knowledgeable about things important to them personally and their country as a whole. It was incredibly rewarding, working with these 100 boys, 10 ugandan counselors, 10 american counselors, 9 staff, and 2 other directors towards this goal. I can fairly confidently say that all 131 of us would call the camp a success. That isn't to say it wasn't without "oh shit" moments, nor is it to say that there were only a few of them. Many times, I was found scrambling from kitchen to dining room, kitchen to dining room; screaming at the kitchen, then smiling at the dining room, then apologizing to the kitchen (but telling them to hurry up as well), then screaming at the dining room for kids being unreasonable. Other times I was up until 3 or 4am trying to work on the budget. Other times I was trying to build a trebuchet, other times I was teaching a class with another PCV about astronomy to 100 kids at once (to kids who have never been taught about this before. ever.), etc. etc. etc. etc. It was awesome. It was a staple of my peace corps experience. But it was also exhausting.
The day after the camp ended, I sprinted home on a 7 hour public transport trek to arrive and continue with the preparations for the OTHER huge event going on; the Centenary Jubilee Celebration which was signifying and celebrating 100 years of Catholic Faith in Teso Region. The parish where Catholicism began in Teso was in Ngora, about 25 feet away from where I live. We had been having meetings for about 5 months intensively to prepare for this event, and I myself was chairing two of the sub-committees. We were hosting around 7 different bishops, over 50 sisters, well over 50 priests, over 2500 christians, and the president of Uganda himself. Amidst all of these people, I was assigned to be given the second reading in Holy Mass. Is it long, I ask? They smile. Oh, and by the way, you'll be given the Ateso (the local language here) version to read, not the English. Hm.
Two days before the event, I finally get my hands on the reading. It IS long. 45% of the words look more like something from mary poppins than actual ateso. But I manage, through no small support from teachers and local leaders from around the community coming and knocking on my door, saying "alright, let me hear what you've got." Once I went up, I think I might as well have been blindfolded; I still have dreams about some of the words which have taken on their own personalities in my mind. ay-towEL-no-kaych, spelled etaunokec, for example, always makes me think about the 4-eyed football team manager from a rink-a-dink highschool, taking back up the supposed-to-be-white towels from the players just before the commencement of 2nd Half. enyaraarereiokus Brings on Jim Carey and the Grinch who stole Christmas, although I'm still not exactly sure why. Anyway, I got through it. People cheered, I got lots of handshakes, etc. Mission accomplished.
I now have one more event I'm hoping to have before I leave for U.S., a foot race designed to encouraged healthy lifestyles through physical and mental preparedness. I will describe this more as it comes.
So, those are a few things (dreadfully unworthy of all the stuff I've been doing, but still) that I've been up to lately. What about you!?! I want to know. Send me an email sometime.