On Sunday June 24th Saw, a co-worker from Foc-REV, invited us all to church with him. Religion is an important aspect of most Ugandans lives. Often when they introduced themselves, along with their name and age, they also mention their faith. Recently I had a conversation with one of my colleages about religion in the United States. He was appalled when I told him there is separation between church and state in US and even more shocked when I told him administrators are not allowed to pray during assemblies in school. Saw is a born again Christian and was very excited to have us join him in church. The church service was quite enjoyable and filled with song and dance. The majority of the service is praise and worship. Every choir including the young adults, youth, male, and senior has the opportunity to sing at least two songs. There is also a portion of the program devoted to dance. During this time, youth usually come up and offer praise through the latest dance moves. The service was very exciting, to say the least.
Later in the week I had the opportunity to attend a meeting for the Memory Book Project headed by NACWOLA (National Community of Women Living with AIDS). The Memory Book Project is geared to empower HIV positive mothers with effective family communication skills to disclose their HIV status to their children. After they have disclosed, the women involved in the program create a book filled with precious childhood memories and important family history to leave behind for their children. This project is so impressive to me, because it not only enables children to better cope and experience less trauma when their parents eventually pass away, but the Memory Project also serves a learning tool for children and adults to obtain accurate information about the transmission of HIV/AIDS. There are still a number of misconceptions among the Ugandan community. Many people here still believe one can get HIV/AIDS from sleeping in the same bed with an infected person, sharing toilets, and some even believe if one is to have sex after midnight the virus can’t be transmitted because it is dormant. It is really unfortunate that so many people still believe these myths, but FOC-REV is striving to change and educate.
Since I work week was not as busy, Sandra and I had plenty of time to play with the children across the street. You wouldn’t even know that we don’t speak the same language by watching us play and interact. A few of the older children know how to speak English, and so we are able to communicate to the younger children through them. We’ve learned a couple of Ugandan games from them and I hope to learn them well enough to teach other children in the Untied States.
This past week we had the opportunity to shadow Community Health Volunteers. These persons visit with people living with HIV/AIDS and check to make sure they are taking their medication, eating nutritiously, and to address in any other problems or concerns. All of the clients were polite and were honored to have an American in their home. They are such kind people in spite of the illness and poverty they face. I too was honored to be in their presence.
Our weekends have been so much fun. During the last weekend in June, Sandra, Andrew, and I traveled to Jinja. On Saturday we visited Bujagali Falls, where I was charged a lesser entry fee because I was mistaken for Ugandan. I gave the checkpoint guard my money without saying a word, in fear he would realize his mistake. Fortunately, he didn’t and I have kept my ticket stub because I plan to have it framed when I return home. On Sunday, we took a boat ride on the source of the Nile. It was absolutely beautiful and I can’t even begin to describe what it was like. This past weekend, Sandra and I traveled to Mbale and visited Sipi Falls. Again this place was absolutely beautiful and breath-taking. We slept at a beautiful guest house in a hut. The guest house overlooked the falls and that night I fell asleep to the sound of the falls crashing into the river. I hope to return there someday with my family and Weyling.
Next time I’ll try not to wait so long before I post a blog. Internet access is never promised here in Busia! Until then - enjoy!