12 June 2009

Texas Tee Shirts

Workshop for Primary 1 Teachers at the Coordinating Center

I saw someone wearing a shirt with the Texas flag on it.
The other day I saw someone in a UT Longhorns shirt. You know me, I have post-UT school spirit (went to the Co-op before I graduated and got myself a tee shirt) But I had a surge of pride and did the hook ‘em horns out the window. (I was in a taxi.)
And finally yesterday i saw a young girl with a Fort Worth Zoo Tee Shirt. (!)

Last week we had some workshops at various schools and i would like to describe some aspects of their structures for you. Their buildings aren't all the same, but at least mostly similar. Looking at them i think of parents/teachers/students from back home and make silent faces to myself cause i know someone who's in facilities maintenance :)

Here are some things:

#1 No Electricity but overhead light bulbs
#2 Cement floor crumbling near the blackboard (nice pot holes for the teacher to maneuver around) and under the student’s desks
#3 A tin roof and no ceiling. (I’ll mention it just in case you weren’t imagining it: there’s no air conditioning here on the equator. Sometimes I step into a swanky bank or grocery store-in Kampala of course- and feel the fresh burst of cold air coming my way. Mmmm)
#4 No glass panes for the windows, when it rains everyone just moves towards the center of the room and since rain on a tin roof is Loud, class instruction usually stops.
#5 Pupils’ desks have rusty nails sticking out of them
#6 Thick, established spiders’ webs and bats’ nests in the corners and crevices of the room
#7 Crumbling cement walls
#8 Old wooden door that doesn’t occupy the entire door frame
#9 Lines of ants running up and down the walls.

Some schools have more or less building "issues" they would love to fix if they had the funds, but in the meantime, the students learn and the teachers teach.


07 June 2009

Martyr's Day at Namogongo

Martyr's Day is June 3rd and there is a large "get together" at their shrine in Namogongo - not too far east of Kampala.

What a day! People like i've never seen. I left the celebrations early to see a friend off at the airport (she finished her Peace Corps service!) So i didn't even stay for the busiest part. There was dancing and singing and the Bishop from Southwest Uganda said the mass. People from all over East Africa come every year and many of them come walking.
Can you imagine?

I couldn't, so i went and quickly remembered i'm an Arista and don't like crowds unless it's at the fair and i'm in close proximity to lemonade and belgian waffles.

There were so many people! Unfortunately i arrived late (7:15 am) so i didn't get a good seat to watch all the happenings. I tried to move around to meet up with a friend of mine who was sitting probably 100 yards away from me. Futile effort. The crowds were impenetrable! She got the good seats and saw more than manicured lawns and flower beds being destroyed/crushed.

But i hope to go back on ANY non-Uganda Martyrs Day day. It's a very neat and normally peaceful place - so i've been told.

02 June 2009

Bishop Dunne follows me to Uganda

The head sister here at St. Theresa Girls had been telling me about her relative who was returning to Uganda for the final burial rites for her mother. Sister told me that this relative also lived in Texas and in fact had been there for almost 40 years. Sister told me that she would introduce us so we could talk about my American home.

This Texan relative came by for a visit today and we talked warmly about Dallas; she lives in Mesquite. I didn't mention too much about Oak Cliff, cause Mesquite's kinda far. She wouldn't know Hampton n' Illinois, or Kiest Park, let alone Glenfield.

I told her i was from Oak Cliff and she said she knew it well since her job took her there quite often. "Wow" i thought. What a small world. Then i told her i lived on Glenfield and "Wow" again cause she often worked on that very home-town street of mine!

We chatted for a bit longer about her stay in Uganda, about her son who is at University in New York, about my adjustment here... "Oh yes i love Uganda." "Its also nice to meet you." "We will meet again." Then the words that made my heart beat almost out of my chest. "My son went to Bishop Dunne."


I almost shouted, cried, laughed and sat down all at the same time. Thankfully i just clapped my hands and shouted out. I grabbed her hand (probably to steady myself) and said very calmly "That is my school. I went to school there and i also worked there. What year did your son graduate? What! I know him AND that's when my little brother graduated! What! You thought you had recognized me? WHAT! You know my mom?!!!!!" (And that's when i almost did the shout/cry/laugh/sit thing again.)

And Sister and the others who were with us felt the joy. I mean, i was flyin'. So "hey" from here Bishop Dunne, Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas. I always knew there was something special about our school.

All my excited love and joy!