As I sit here writing this entry, I am constantly distracted by a cute boy who has a rolled-up chapatti (really yummy tortilla-like thing we have fallen in love with here) in one hand and a scrap piece of paper we have been drawing on in the other. As I try to concentrate, he pokes me so I look at what he’s drawing, flicks stuff at me to get my attention, throws our attempt of a paper airplane at me, and stares at me with his big, round eyes. He has become my friend and always makes the days at the office better when he is around (he’s the 6 year old son of a woman who works here and he comes on his school break). At first, he wouldn’t even look at me because he is very shy, but slowly we became friends and now when he’s around its quite difficult to not have him around wanting to play. It is always interesting because as he explains things to me I have no idea what he is saying, and when I try to tell him something he looks at me like I am crazy!
It’s always hard to communicate with someone when you do not speak the same language. Hand gestures are always helpful, as are facial expressions, but I think the easiest people to get along with when you don’t know a language is children.
You can find kids everywhere in Uganda. Especially in Busia. Especially right around our hotel. Even when it looks like there are only a couple of kids, as soon as you give any attention to one child, many others start peeping out from houses, bushes, trees and before you know it you have an entire group of kids formed around you. I love playing with these kids and if I could, it would be the only thing I would do all day!
I decided to teach a couple of kids across the street how to give a high five. When I went the next day to see if they remembered how do it (which they did), the other kids that had joined them quickly learned how to give one. The next day I decided to sit down with them, and though they speak absolutely no English (besides knowing how to say ‘mzungu, how are you?’ and ‘I am fine’), and my Lusamia skills were limited to ‘Hello, my name is Ajambo Sandra. Thank you very much for everything. Good bye!’, we were still able to ‘communicate’ and play for over an hour. They were very good at the repeating game (ie I say ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘why’, ‘oooh’, ‘aaah’ etc and they repeat everything I say). We also played the jumping game (everyone gets up and jumps until all of a sudden everyone decides to plop back on the floor), the tickle game (they put their hand on my leg and I tickle them), and the stare game (we all would just sit there staring at each other, not quite sure what to do or say). Austin came out and we taught them Ring-around-the-rosy, which they loved. Most of the time they would just look at us and giggle, fall over and laugh on the ground. As the days went by and Austin and I would go and play with them after work, they have taught us their names, along with how to play some local games. They have tried teaching me a phrase (which I later learned meant “I want to go bathe” – very useful, right??), how to sing and how to dance. They find it hilarious to see a mzungu shaking her bootie…I just love listening to their laughter and seeing them get all excited! Playing with these new friends and any other random kid along the street we decide to stop and play with a bit is my favourite past time here in Uganda!
Work-related everything is going well. The people here are so nice and when there is not much to do we can always find someone to talk to about anything and everything. Lately they have been mentioning they are sad that we are soon leaving (I cannot believe we only have two weeks left!!) and ask when we will come back and work here permanently with them. Francis, our executive director, is already starting to plan our farewell party where he wants to include everyone we have worked with and met in the entire district! They have given us amazing opportunities to see what the kind of work they do here is like. We have gone to different event and random meetings. Last week our task was to accompany some CCAs (Community Counselling Aides) on their visitations to the homes of HIV infected people in the community. All of the CCAs are also HIV positive, and they are trained in psycho-social support and are knowledgeable on the important places they can refer the clients to. They are all volunteers and simply commit their time in order to help other members in their community and help fight the stigma against HIV infected people. It was great to be able to go into the different areas in Busia with them, visiting people’s homes and seeing how many people here live. Everyone is so hospitable and nice and they were all happy to have us visit them at their house.
This week we are travelling across the country to a district called Hoima which is on the Western border. We are going to see how an organization there is working on their sustainable livelihood program, which should be fun and interesting because we have been working with the sustainable livelihood program here in Busia and in the neighbouring district. I am very excited to see more of Uganda – it is all so beautiful! Besides our usual trips around Busia and Bugiri districts, we have used a weekend to travel to Jinja and see the source of the Nile (soo beautiful) and another one to go up to Mbale where we went to Sipi Falls and stayed in a banda (a hut) in the mountains that overlooks the amazing waterfall.
Things are going great, I’m loving it and I am sorry to be leaving so soon! I have noticed we have started speaking English like Ugandans, using their phrases, their replies and following their train of though. I’m even getting sad thinking that in a few weeks I will no longer be able to eat matooke! Anyways, I will try to post again next week but internet access is quite limited out here in Busia….