Thursday, July 19, 2012

This and that

This past week, my group and I traveled to Munyonyo to have our Close-Of-Service conference.  After 23 months being in Uganda, we’ve found ourselves as the most senior class still remaining in-country.  We started as 45; at the conference 34 and I remained.

Not sure what my future will hold.  As more definite information comes, I will try and let all of you know.  If any of you have specific questions (or any positions, for that matter), let me know through email.

Out with the old…

As my mind becomes more and more filled with an uncertain future, and where I will find myself even 6 months from now, a new volunteer is planning on starting his own journey in Ngora.  Aisa Radio Station has gotten clearance for their first Peace Corps Volunteer.  It’s a pretty special thing for me, having helped the station get started.  There are soooo many things that are still left to do to make the Radio Station what it can be, and I’m pumped that there will be a volunteer able to devote his time and work with other committee members.

As the new volunteer comes in, I’m presented with a new challenge.  My bubble of Ngora Mission has been mine and mine alone for the past 2years.  I can’t help but feel like the older son, having to welcome a newborn.  Sure, I’m excited.  I know its what the community wants, and I’m confident that he (the new volunteer) can do good things.  At the same time, though, this is MY community!  I don’t want to share it!
And so approaches a new chapter.  I have no idea what it is going to hold.  Before Peace Corps, perhaps, this would have worried me.


The Ngora Parish Harmack Company waits with baited breath about the results of the U.S. Embassy Grant that we have applied for.  For sure, with a project approval would come a completely new kind of Company, with all kinds of new challenges and demands.  As we wait, however, we find ourselves busier than ever before.  In one weekend, over 65 orders came in from the companies we supply to.  At the same time, we’re expanding our product through successful work of the RD&D department; not only are we making fabric hammocks, but also hand woven string style (sprang) hammocks.
Too cool of a story.
Backing up to these sprang hammocks, I wanted to talk about how they came to fruition.  I actually tried to make this hammock before the group was created, or before we had even started thinking about making hammocks commercially.  I failed.  Completely.  I spent 3-4 days doing nothing but making tangled masses of twine.  After 4 or 5 months with the harmack company, I once again brought up this possibility, and we tried it.  We FAILED.  Completely.  I was trying to help, the kids were trying to do it, the elders were trying not to laugh.  Everybody failed at their objectives (especially the elders.)
A few months later on, group of ladies and men came to me asking to join the harmack company.   Because of our current structure of the company, we do not need a large group of people working; after sitting and talking with the chairperson and treasurer, it was clear there was no place for more people.  We instead offered them the option of making the sprang hammocks themselves, which if they could master we would purchase off of them directly, package it, and sell it to our pre-existing markets. 
The group was excited, and they inspired me to have hope that perhaps this would be the time.  We tried, and we tried, and we tried.  We always failed.  Tangled messes. 
Going through my town, I always stop and talk to the Indian Shopkeeper ( I capitalize this because I feel extremely bad that I don’t know his name.  He’s given me such great advice and we’ve talked so much, that I feel it’s not possible at this point to admit that I’ve forgotten what he goes by.) about whatever.  This is the same man who I mentioned awhile back, in the post regarding cricket.  The hammock company came up, and he asked questions poignant enough for me to realize he knew what he was talking about.  I asked him about this, and he mentioned that of course his wife has a hammock in the home.  She sleeps in it most nights, he says.  Yahtzee, I say; he looked confused.
As I boarded a plane for America, the Indian Shopkeeper’s timid wife was being invited and reveled as the new group’s teacher.  When I came back, 2 weeks later, they had 4 hammocks to show me, each one better than the last.  Amazing how cool of a village I live in.  Working on how to dye the skeins now, in order to make Ugandan flag colored sprang hammocks.  THAT will be something to see.  Stay tuned.

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