30 October 2009

What are you gonna be for Halloween?

Sunrise in Kisubi

Just got back from Lifeskills training in Kampala. It was a week with the other volunteers in my group and our counterparts. We played tons of games and learned how to incorporate these sessions into basically any part of our peace corps service. I think this is one of the peace corps programs i am most excited about. It seems like such a positive way to work for all sorts of development~

Some of the big discussions we had were about the spread of HIV, stigma & discrimination, peer pressure, positive discipline, self esteem and goal setting. It was very helpful to hear the ugandan perspective. It made me realize why some of my ideas fall flat on their faces. And i think they appreciated hearing our perspectives. It was a safe place to exchange ideas and thoughts and i feel like we all tried our best to be honest and respectful. It was tough at times. Specifically when some of the men asked why americans couldn't accept that women were property. I think they were semi joking.

We had a halloween shindig one evening and we just danced the night away in silly costumes. I was part of an 80's punk band. I think all the costumes took a back burner to the dancing! Most of our group (the volunteers who came feb 14, 2009 a.k.a. "the valentiners)are girls and all of us really like to cut a rug. It was a blast.

I was thinking of family dances at home! Stefan at first not wanting to dance, then finally caving in and wanting to dance ALL the time..... Good Luck Quag with the meet. It sounds like you're traveling all over the place! And i bet you're taking pictures for me...
Maybe you'll end up visiting that beanie bean way up north! Keep up the good run quag, enjoy the race... i'll be thinking of you and sending you happy happy thoughts!


Webale nnyo for the packages! I just got tuna fish and coffesmate flavoring from the Castillos! I can't wait to go home and drink some coffee... And there was a gorgeous drawing from Casiana that i'm going to hang on my wall.
Tia! Lucas! Vicente! Thanks for the photos of home!!! I love them and i cant stop giving you guys kisses on the pictures. And the book, webale jaja wange!! Thanks welita bagita, i read it a long time ago and look forward to starting it again. "The Power of One." Thanks tia for the cute notecards and thank you Tia Vita for the nice note! Awesome stickers matre~ Muah muah muah! I love you all and really appreciate your thinking of me. It really feels nice to open these gifts from home and i hope you know they bring me lots of joy. Just reading your handwriting is a gift~


To my cute little brothers and cousins.... i miss you all and smile to myself thinking of ya'll and what shenanigans you must be up to these days.


What are you guys gonna be for halloween?

23 October 2009

Tour of Jinja

At Bujagali Falls and a view of Kampala

I left with the St. Theresa P5 class around 7:30. After tons of traffic we finally began our tour at the sugar factory. It was an amazing jumble of metal, heat, sweet smelling steam and shouting men. At the beginning of the tour they asked if anyone was afraid of loud machines or if they had asthma they would have to stay behind. "I'm not afraid" thought Celeste. Then we started climbing rickety (to me) metal stairs and walking over high,holey metal walkways. I was scared but trying not to "look" scared. It didn't work though, cause the teachers kept asking "are you scared celeste?" and "nothing to fear, nothing to fear!"
We each (5 teachers, 90 students and myself) got a heaping handful of sugar at the end of the tour.

Then we went to a factory where they make clothes and we got to see the process go from raw cotton to nice cotton sheets. There was cotton floating everywhere so we were sneezing and the ladies all covered their hair. They told me i didn't have to cover mine since i washed my hair every day.

Then it was off to the mattress factory. They showed us the chemical process they use to make the foam mattresses everyone uses here. Then we each got a piece of foam to take home. They gave me one shaped like a heart :)

After the factory tours we went to the source of the Nile and then to Bujagali Falls. They were beautiful and loud and rushing. There were men who jumped into the falls with just a jerrycan. Hmm..

A long day, but full of excitement. The girls were great. They were trying to explain all sorts of things to me, as though they'd been there a million times, and it brought big smiles to my face.


Just received some things from my momma, carrie, langela, martin and nate. Thank you so much for thinking of me.. I haven't opened the packages/letters yet cause i'm trying to learn patience! (Okay, so i opened one...)

20 October 2009

Wash Your Hands


Handwashing Day was last thursday and we had a small, slightly disorganized event. There was singing, a dance, a poem and a short skit. The lower primary really liked the skit, and i think everyone else just wanted to go to lunch.

But the upside to Global Handwashing Day events is that i have been helping schools build tippy-taps. I have a sneaking suspicion that the kids are going to break them within the year, or someone is going to steal the wood. But hopefully just making them will show the kids they have control over their health.

Thanks mom for the recipes!

16 October 2009

Oh Susanna, Don't You Cry For Me


After our reading and writing club meeting yesterday, the P5 and P6 girls walked me to my house, and they love to carry my things for me. I usually have a pen, some books and a piece of cloth to sit on the grass with. They divvy out my goods, then "escort" me home.
At the door they asked me if i would play JUST ONE song, PLEASE ARISTA?
I said, "just one?"
So i brought out the guitar and played many songs, including "Oh Susanna", "Bread and Butter" and some Church songs. (Bread and Butter is a popular and great song by the Ugandan duo sensation Radio and Weasel.)

After playing "Oh Susanna" a coupla times, they had memorized the refrain. So there was this group of primary girls singing at the top of their lungs, Oh Susanna, dont you cry for me, for i come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee...

14 October 2009

Joy and Jump Rope

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9… oooooh
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16…ooohhhhh
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26….oooohhh

I made it to 26 in jumping rope. I’m kinda proud. I think I need to stop and play jump rope more often. Forget about words like sustainable development, community-based organizations, NGOs… I wanna talk about giggling, happy primary school students, playing in the sunshine and just general feel-goodery.

I do want to “do” something while I’m here and selfishly, I would like that something to be big picture/newsworthy/important/noticed. BUT on the goldeny, sunshiny days like today, after I’ve finished all my laundry and re-read one of the Dune books, I’m content and happy and glad and all those kinda words to just play, laugh and be silly with the St. Theresa girls. And I can forget about the “Peace Corps” label. Forget what people may or may not be thinking about what I’m doing on this side of the world. Forget the pressures of being here. And remember joy.

Matre, I think you’ve been trying to get us to remember joy all our lives. Here I am being joyful.

what reminds you to be joyful?


Call for Recipes:
I have or can easily find:
Flour (maize and wheat), most spices, baking powder and soda, different kinds of oils, bananas, apples, guava, papaya, mango, passion fruit, jackfruit, pineapple, peanuts, cassava (type of root), potato, avocado, beans, rice, tomatoes, eggplant, peas, cabbage, ginger, onion, carrots, and garlic.

Any ideas for delicious meals?

04 October 2009

Cold October Day

Some recent snaps of the reading and writing club members reading to the P2 students(it reminded me of the buddy system at Santa Clara!), standing with the PIASCY group last friday after they had performed some amazing song and dance routines and taking a soda break with the teachers at St. Theresa.

Its cold today. Brrr. Walking to work (just up the hill from the bus stop) i got so dirty. Only the main roads are paved, everything else is the red dirt that i love. That i love on dry, non-windy days.

This past weekend my amigas came over and we celebrated a birthday. There was pineapple stir-fry, apple crisp and champagne (awful, awful champagne.)

This coming friday is Uganda's Independence Day. I think i'm going to get a watermelon and stand over a foot bridge pretending i'm watching fireworks. Maybe it'll come close to celebrating the 4th on the Jefferson Bridge before it was closed off. My laptop has a game that when you win, fireworks shoot off, so maybe i'll bring my computer along. ;)

All my love

Ps. Thanks Bob for the amazing teas and candles! They are wonderful! The vit C came at a perfect time, just as i was gettting a cold. Thanks Karina for the book, i finished it in one night! Thanks Tommy for the quality package you sent that only a fellow ugandan volunteer would be able to do. Pens! Thanks Matre for the sandals~ Oh my mama, you are the best.