27 April 2010

Very Small View into Country-Wide Problems

Mom, you asked why Uganda has such a problem with malaria and i think a lot has to do with corruption. There is a lot of money put into this country from many times many aid organizations. Malaria should be wiped-out by now and its not. I'd like to get more information before writing on this public space, but i wanted to share a small instance of corruption that's just a pinhole into the bigger picture.

Police woman pulled us (Amanda fellow PCV and our Ugandan driver friend) over on Makerere Hill* and asked the driver for his permit. The driver had two permits, in case the police ever ends up keeping one, and he politely handed one of them over.

The policewoman inspected the truck we were in and said that one of the tires looked damaged. Because this damaged tire could cause traffic accidents, she was going to charge him a 50,000 USh** fine.

He asked her for forgiveness while Amanda and I watched and tried to appear appropriately contrite and harmless. She said there was nothing to forgive and there were two options: he could sign the receipt for the 50,000 USh fine or he could wait for the actual police to come and take him to jail for refusing to cooperate. (I love the concept of freedom and choice. Its our choice to sign for a fine we don't believe we deserve or choose to be hauled off to jail for an offense we also refuse to believe is an acceptable consequence. Same in the U.S.) Except HERE, after Amanda and I said that 50,000 USh was a veeery high fine and after Amanda also asked for her to show some forgiveness, the traffic woman said alright. Since the nice young (white was not explicitly stated) woman asked, she was going to let the driver go.. But could she have a little something for lunch.
"A bottle of water?" asked the driver.
"No, I'm not asking for a bottle of water" the traffic woman said, "just something.."
Where upon the driver slipped her "something." And we were free to continue on our way!

*near the famed Makerere University, at one time the best higher education system in Africa until the Amin Regime in the 70's.

** 50,000 USh is about 25 dollars but its a lot of money and you should really see some of the other ancient jalopys on the roads here. In comparison, our old truck looked like it just rolled off the factory lines.

24 April 2010

World Malaria Day

April 25th is World Malaria Day and to spread some awareness i thought i would put some info/resources on this blog. Check out the websites for more in-depth information.

-Malaria is preventable and treatable
-One prevention tool is sleeping under an insecticidal net (my mosquito net is a wonderful sleeping companion... not only does it keep out possible malaria-bearing mosquitoes, but also any other critters wanting to disturb my sleep.)
-Malaria is spread by a mosquito that is infected with a parasite
-Only the females of a certain mosquito species can transmit malaria
-Malaria symptoms initially include: fever, nausea, chills and vomiting
-Every year malaria kills 1 million people, with most deaths occurring in sub-Saharan Africa
-People most at risk are pregnant women and children under 5
-Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, DRC and Nigeria account for over 50% of malaria deaths in the world
-Uganda has the third highest deaths from malaria in Africa


22 April 2010


in commemoration of one year as a pcv, here is:
Luganglish Dictionary Part One
(feel free to change/dispute/add on)

Nothing to do:
Kind of like, "That's life" , "What can I do about it?"

You've been lost:
Where've you been!

Well be back:
Welcome back

Safe journey: Said whenever anyone leaves home and goes farther than the nearest trading center

Things aren't easy:
Kind of like, "life's tough these days." Except "these days" translates to everyday. Said a lot by women in reference to anything

Now now: Right now. "I'm leaving now now"

Feel free:
Said to welcome a guest/students to make them feel more comfortable

It's disturbing me: Anything that irritates. "The dust is disturbing me" , "these shoes are disturbing me", "those kids are disturbing me"

Ever: Always. "She is ever late"

They're not serious:
When people are misbehaving or not really doing their job/school work

Get serious: expressing disbelief or surprise

Well done: Good job. Said to anyone doing anything

You are most welcome: Welcome. Said by everyone to everyone all the time.

Thank you for the work: Said whenever you see anyone doing anything. Its polite to say thank you for whatever they are doing.

Extend: Move over. Like on a taxi, when the men don't scoot over when I get in the front row of the taxi and we squish four to three seats. I say, "you extend."

Reduce: To lose weight, to lower a window

You first wait:

14 April 2010


it was small and grody.
I'm not sure if i should share this information with the world. (ha, i think about 20 people read this.)

---STOP reading now if you have a sensitive stomach---

Recently, i've thought i stubbed my toe at some point (not uncommon for this one) and the tip of my toe had accordingly turned semi black. This morning I was washing laundry with my friend Lydia. My toe had been hurting worse than usual so i asked lydia what i could do to help reduce the pain. She took one look at my soap covered foot and said, "Eh! Baba Cele, what is this? You have a jigger!"

She called everyone over to look at my jigger-ed toe and they all said it was "so big!" At first they thought i should go to the nurse but it turned out one of the ladies has an expertise in parasite removal. They procured a safety pin(that was sterilised) and told me they were ready for surgery. I was fascinated and told them, "first wait", i had to get my camera to take some snaps of this tiny insect that had burrowed into my toe.

I'll spare you the play-by-play of how they extracted it, but it was great. If you're curious, look up the Chigoe flea online. I'm kinda worried i'm grossing people out. I wanted to upload one of the pictures i took, but i'll restrain myself.

This was definitely a "different" post... Promise my future posts will follow the tamer thread i've followed so far...

12 April 2010

Easter Carols

Carols were held Sunday at Kisubi Parish, the church that's right next door to St.Theresa.

The first choir to perform was the primary school that's also right next door to St.Theresa. They were nervous and would only sing a verse after the choir conductor sang it first. They were great though. I'm trying to upload the video onto this page.

I wish we had drums and clapping and people singing in church in the U.S. Its so joyful here and i've really loved being a part of their celebrations. The clapping surprised me when i first started going to church in Wakiso. Most congregations clap after the consecration of the host and the wine. I didn't know what was going on! And most songs come with a nice clapping pattern.

11 April 2010

Bus Rides

Last coupla times in Gayaza, town north of kampala where amanda lives. First time was teaching the P7 girls how to make reusable menstrual pads. This time was to get our hair braided so we look smart!

Mom! you asked if the bus rides were smooth. Even on a "smooth" day the bus and taxi trips are like going on a safari ride, except without the giraffes and the ugandan antelopes. I live off a fairly smooth road called the Queen's Way, since its the road taken when she would visit. Gotta keep the road nice and smooth for the queen. Even so, i'm glad when i'm squished in my seat cause then i just relax and enjoy the ride. I don't have to brace myself for anything. And the taxi makes more money cramming more people into the 14-seater van. Win-Win.

Every once in a while i get a ride in a Peace Corps vehicle and its glorious. I forget that cars have shock absorbers! And air conditioning! I forget that my back isn't always drenched in sweat when i get out of a car.

Yesterday i sat for 7 and a half hours getting my hair braided. At hour 6 i started asking myself if all this was worth looking smart. The girls said that in America, we don't spend so much time fixing our hair. Don't Worry, i set the record straight...told them we most Definitely spend lots and lots of time making sure our hair looks smart! At first they were excited to braid foreign hair, so there were many people working at once. Then a t.v. was brought in and "The Promise", a Filipino soap opera, overshadowed the novelty.

Last week i played guitar with the P7 girls. We sang songs from Oh Brother Where Art Thou and we had a blast. They listened the first time through and the second time they sang along like they were their favorite songs. We usually sit on the steps going down to the soccer pitch and i definitely sing at the top of my lungs, enjoying a wonderful Lake Victoria sunset. The P7 are very polite and don't tell me, like Pauline and Vale do, "you don't know how to sing, do you?"

check out arodabroad.blogspot.com for more snaps of braiding day

07 April 2010

Catching Up

The life skills workshop in Gulu was 2 fridays ago friday, i left Kisubi early on a
thursday morning to catch a bus bound for northern Uganda. It was a 5
hour bus ride so i got off the bus in Gulu with enough time to tour
the technical school (Gulu Youth Development Association) where i was
going to teach, talk with some of the students, plan the life skills
session with a staff member there and attend the breakdancing class
taught by one of the Peace Corps Volunteers. I learned how to rest my
body on my elbows and pose my feet up in the air. (Its in the job
description.) I really admire her work there because Ugandan's
love to dance and she had created such a strong cross-cultural
connection that i could see the admiration, pride and confidence they
had in her.

Friday i had the morning free so i sat in on the braiding class. At
first the students were very shy and wouldnt talk with me.
Unfortunately i dont speak more than one greeting in Acholi/Lango (the
northern languages.) I told them i wanted to learn and thankfully one
student understood my english/miming efforts and pointed to a chair.
After 30 minutes of talking and glancing over in my direction they
invited me to try braiding. So one student taught me different ways of
plaiting the weave into the other students hair. They laughed at my
attempts but i was determined to show them SOME skill, i mean years of
braiding my grandma's and cousins hair couldnt be discredited in one
afternoon swoop. So i kept trying and finally some of the laughing
sounds changed to what i considered okay-thats-not-half-bad murmurs.
By the end of the morning i was sweating from the trying to braid
hair, trying to seem like i knew what i was doing, trying to
understand what they were telling me and working under a tin roof. It
was a good morning.

The life skills session went well and i hope they're able to use some of the games and excercises in their lessons. Sometimes i worry that everything i teach goes in one ear and out the other. Though I'm getting better at follow-up and evaluation.


The Easter holidays were great, i got lots of chances to sit and talk to my neighbors and friends. I helped peel Matooke and the sisters got a kick out of that. They kept bringing people to come and watch me peel these bananas. They would laugh incredulously. Halfway through peeling the enormous pile of bananas, the oldest sister in our community, Sr.Hippolyta, said i was doing a terrible job. She said it in Luganda so i didnt know why everyone had burst out laughing until after they had caught their breaths. I turned bright red and of course, that set off the second round of laughter. =)

I'm playing guitar for the Easter Carols next sunday and i've been really excited to play. We're going to perform "Where You There When They Crucified My Lord?" Today they told me that all the sub-parishes are going to be there and i'm not so excited anymore. ..

I made maranitos for Easter and they came out surprisingly delicious, for the first 15 minutes outside the oven. Then after that they turned, more believable, unedible as they became hard as rock.