Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rains Down in Africa

Life here in Ngora is going pretty well.  All around me there are working clamoring around, constructing one of the 6 or so projects that are going on simultaneously around the Mission.  The church is adding on an office as well as two additions of space into the main cathedral, making the google view of the church into what will be a cross.  Only yesterday we received the iron sheets (all the way from Kampala) to switch out the remaining asbestos sheets that currently reside on the the roof of the church.  On top of all of that, we are building a new, re-usable latrine (based off of the one we made at the H/C with help from Appropriate Projects), and setting up our nursery for this rainy season.

Ah!  Rainy season.  So, if you’ve been reading my blog, you know that Uganda doesn’t deal with seasons with regard to hot and cold.  Every day and most every night you could fix the temperature to within about 4 degrees Celsius.  What does change, though, is the rains.  Now that it is rainy season, we receive a shower almost every day, at nearly the same time (5:00-7:00 at night).  Temperatures, as you might imagine, can be  BIT cooler during these months…but not always.  Anyway, when the rainy season comes, so does the digging season.  The second consistent day of rain will bring out everyone AND their mother (or just their mothers) to the fields every morning for the next month or two.  It is not unlike (yet, completely different) than in University, when you have the second hot day in a row, and every single girl winds up wearing their short skirts and tank tops.  Did I mention that I miss America sometimes?

  In Uganda, a staggering amount of people live through subsistence farming; living off of the land for their food, without making a profit.  In Ngora, we’re even higher than the average.  Teso is known for its cattle, mangoes, oranges, and g-nuts (peanuts).  In my village a bit over 85% describe themselves as “peasants” who live off the land.  They make no profit, but need no shillings (at least, not for food.  Most times.)  It has been a constant struggle for me to call this a good or bad thing; there are certainly a lot of different sides to it.

Because of the shift in the rainy seasons, many people have found themselves without food for months at a time.  Apparently before I came, rains were extremely predictable.  Almost to the week, people were able to expect, plan for, and get ready for the digging to commence as the rains came in.  Now, though, for some reason or another the rains have shifted.  Sometimes they last for 4 months, other times 2.  Sometimes 6.  Sometimes ½.  When it determines if you and your family is going to eat, you can imagine the frustration.
For now, everyone’s living the good life.  Mangoes are in the plenty (you can get about 20 for the equivalent cost of 10 cents), oranges are almost as many (20 for about 40 cents), and the fields are all nicely saturated each night with good sun during the day.  For now, everyone’s confident.  

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