Friday, September 14, 2012

Life, Readers Digest Version

Power has taken a turn for the absolutely terrible here in Ngora, after what has been a glorious 2 months of the most stable electricity I've had in all of my 2 years in Uganda.  Thus, this will be brief---

On the 18th of this month, we will officially be signing the acceptance of our Grant from the U.S. Embassy Small Grants Office, which will be funding the building of a permanent structure, sewing machines, solar panels and two computers for the up and coming Ngora Parish Harmack Company.  I will not be there, though, becauseeeeeee

At midnight on the 17th, I will be escorted to the airport.  Peace Corps is sending me to a Stomp Out Malaria Boot Camp in Senegal for 12 days, in preparation for the response position that I have been given for my third year extension as a Volunteer in Uganda.  You can read more about this here: http://stompoutmalaria.org/

At or around the date of October 1st, I will be arriving back in Uganda.  This will also mark our first day able to begin our project under the U.S. Embassy, thus the first day of construction.  We aim to finish construction by the end of January, 2013, and start Phase 2 of our grant (and start making our new structure nice and fancy and ready to become operational!)

Finally, at or around (best I can do...this is still Uganda) October 21st will be my last official day living in Ngora as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  I will shift to Gulu, in Northern Uganda, to be a field coordinator under ABT Associates, working specifically on IRS implementation in surrounding areas of Gulu District. 

While all this is happening, the NPHC has been setting up MOUs to all our present companies which we supply harmacks to, and has also made plans to start an extensive nation-wide tour to scale our target locations.  By the end of the year, 2013, we hope to have gone from supplying to 4 companies (currently), to have long term agreements with over 30 resorts within Uganda.

Now all I have to do is to remember to breathe...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A jaunt in the woods


It has become easy for me to assume that through continual interaction with the community and previous adventures around I have become able to traipse through even the most rural locations of Ngora without losing my direction.  Yesterday, it became easy to realize I was a fool for this assumption made.

In attempt to break up the monotony of a particularly frustratingly day, I decided to trade the dress slacks and long sleeve for my highschool soccer shorts and spanky’s cotton long sleeve (sun here is brutal).  With buzi already anticipating Runner’s High by my actions, I stretched and departed in a direction previously never undertaken. 

Not many people will speak in blogs or otherwise about the beauty of Eastern Uganda, and fewer still about Teso Sub-region.  Generally I’ll have to admit that the SW is much more picturesque; even still, Ngora still has its fair share of jaw-droppers.  Traversing on new trails is always a treat, and the further you get away from “the town,” the more ideal the view becomes.  Within 35 minutes Buzi and I were surrounded by nothing but blue skies, beautifully untampered hedges lining the trails, and our own panting breaths.  A second later, Buzi bolts---he’s seen a wild pigeon.  Instantly a whole cloud of fluttering white rises into the air, faltering for a moment before realizing their threat has no skyward mobility, then lazily retiring to the next shady spot as their chosen respite.

Stunned by the beauty around me, it took a group of women who stopped me (they wanted to greet, ask me how my place was, talk about the rains---the normal) for me to realize I had no clue where I was.  Faced with the option of admitting defeat and asking the ladies for directions around or running around in circles…I chose the latter.  Eventually Buzi and I made it to a valley low enough to have standing water in the fields (Buzi loved this, by the way; he took to water immediately) which meant---I thought---that I was back in a region that I knew.  I was wrong, of course; it would take 45 more minutes of intermittent running & backtracking to get back to a road that was familiar.  Buzi got a thorn in his foot and was panting like a crazy man.  Credit where it’s due: despite my many turn-arounds which he must have known were incorrect in the first place, he remained faithfully trailing me.

After it was all said and done, Buzi and I had gone running from 12:30-3:30…the dead middle of the day.  Buzi collapsed outside of my house, unwilling to deal with the marginally higher temperature of my non-ceilinged room.  I brought out his water and laid down beside him on the cool concrete.  What a journey!

Experiences like these make me question if I do them enough.  This was 3 hours of one day of one week, and yet the experience is something that will stick with me as a great part of my time in Teso.  I guess I just wish I could have taken the time when it was there to take; a year ago I didn’t have 1/5 the things going on that I do now.  If a man is only old when regrets take the place of dreams, it’s as though I’ve started to get a few gray hairs.  

The dynamic duo strikes again


My favorite texter of all time is a fairly plump Mugiso (in Bantu languages, prefixes are added for descriptions within tribes.  Someone lives in Bugiso, is a Mugiso, and speaks Lugiso) who resides in Kumi District.  She wears too much make-up, tries way too hard to be American and also to pick up Americans (i.e. me, Danny, and the new guy).  She’s a bit haughty.  Despite these faults (more egregious in print than is really fair), her position as postmaster, and therefore the person who informs me of packages having arrived for me, makes her a VIP contact.

------In Ngora, being its own district and all, we do in fact have our own post office.  You might wonder why I would ride my bike 20 kilometers on a road I’ve been clipped twice to get to Kumi, instead of simply having it coming to Ngora and picking it less than 2km from my doorstep.  Well, go less than 2km and 1 step, and there you will find an ajon circle (local brew drinking site, which is a big pot with straws coming out of it in a big circle, about 10 feet in diameter with chairs and people included).  Once found, search for the drunkest man there.  That is Mr. Oloit, our postmaster.------

Anywho, this package was especially wonderful, sent from my two generations of mamas.  Inside the package, the first thing that demands your attention is the self-written “Caldwell Navigator” newspaper article, outlining the package’s contents in a play by play. 

Presents included candy buttons, toothbrushes, a stolen cocktail menu, and a 2013 edition almanac in the same tradition as Poor Richard’s.  Amongst most of the nonsensical items included was a wooden measure previously used from my great granddad, amazingly still in perfect condition.  Buzi was also celebrated, and got to taste what could have been his first ever American treat (Also obtained through questionable methods at a local bank, “reportedly”)

Thank you Mama & Grandmama!  Appreciate the love; I promise all of the construction items will be put to good use!