Monday, May 31, 2010
Yesterday, Avery (the other UNC intern) and I arrived in the village we are going to spend the summer in, Katosi! I really really like the town, because it already feels like home. It is right on Lake Victoria, and it is so incredibly beautiful! I hope I can go on a boatride sometime, but I will not go swimming I promise!
I really like the house we are staying in! It is right behind the Katosi Women's development office, and is the home of one of the founders of the organization. We call her mama Gertrude! The house is really nice, even though we have no running water and no electricity (it may come back on sometime in June!!). It gets so ridiculously dark here, and at night I sort of feel like I am floating among the stars! I swear I actually saw the milky way. We also have to pee in a whole in the ground and shower outside, but we are getting used to it!
We also have some chicken and two cows, one is named Anna. They kind of scare me, because they are so huge, but today I fed Anna a banana peel, and now I think he likes me. There are women hanging around the house and patio pretty much all the time, and I can tell they are really hard workers and really care about the community.
After we settled in, we walked around the village! There are a lot of shops and markets, and I think I already made friends with a lady who owns one of them. I might go to her shop every day and drink lime fanta! There are also a lot of schools around the area, so hopefully I will get to work with as many of them as I can!
We walked to the top of a gigantic hill (maybe even a mountain) and saw the view of the lake and everything around it. The peace corps volunteer who is also working at Katosi Women Development Trust thought we could see all the way to Kampala!Katosi is pretty much a little village surrounded by the jungle, and I love it! We went to go feed some wild monkeys, but they refused to eat the banana I was trying to give them! it sort of hurt my feelings:) haha
A few days ago, we had our internship training to learn more about Katosi Women Development Trust. It was really interested and informative, and the more I learn about it, the more awesome I think it is. Basically the organization is made up of 13 groups of women around the Mukono district. The leaders figure out what the women need and then implement things like training sessions, agricultural programs, microfinance/loans, and water and sanitation programs. They try to break the traditional gender roles, but in a way that doesn't cause any problems (like they teach women how to construct gigantic cement rainwater collectors, even though women do not traditionally work in construction).
I can tell things are going to move sort of slowly here, but it is obvious that the development trust does get things done. I hope I can work on some of the community gardens and also implement the kicks for katosi (and maybe expand that to kicks for kampala) internship project!
So everything is going really well! The only hard thing is trying to cook, haha, which I am not very good at in the first place. Basically the only food here is rice, fruit, and vegetables. and some bread. I am a horrible cook in the first place, but with no microwavable food (there is a gas stove), I am even worse. Last night, Avery and I cooked Spagetti. It was yummy, but it took us over an hour to make! And this morning for breakfast, I ate the leftover cold spagetti with my fingers. until i found a dead mosquito in it. then i stopped, haha.
I love Uganda, and I will try to update everyone more soon!
Yesterday the interns officially split (sad story!) and all headed off to our work site, so me and Colleen made it into the "field" site of the KWDT in Katosi. It's a great town. Right now, they don't have electricity and haven't for a month, but they are expecting a new transformer within the month, FINGERS CROSSED!! Mama Gertrude is who we are staying with in Katosi but she is currently in the hospital with ulcers- we hope to have her back soon! There is a peace corps volunteer as well in Katosi and she has been very helpful in showing us around the town. Last night we made our first official meal, SPAGHETTI!! Actually very good since the noodles were imported from Italy!! A lot of the food is imported- my cereal is from egypt, jam from the UAE, etc. the spaghetti was amazing and very much like home it was wonderful. The night before we left kampala we all went to go see Sex and the City 2. The movie wasn't great (warning, not a sex & the city fan) but the atmosphere was heavenly, I forgot I wasn't in the US!! The stars in Katosi are incredible- I've never seen so many! There is always someone blaring loud african music next to mom's house, so its honestly like we have a soundtrack to our lives in Katosi. Today we explored the town, met the police (to let them know there are now THREE mzungus living in katosi), and fed monkeys bananas!! I'm slowly getting used to the Ugandan life, except the latrines. I will never, ever again take for granted the wonder of plumbing and running water. Time's almost up in the internet cafe, but in case you were wondering why Strawberry cream cheese is in the title, its just the one food I'm craving beyond words. Until next time!
Sunday, May 30, 2010
I need to prepare myself with no Chinese in following 2 months. I never lived in any no-Chinese environment for such a long time (or maybe I can expect my African friends can speak Chinese?) seriously I need to set a goal that teach all AGRADU girls with basic Chinese and ask them practice with me lol.
I don’t know what exactly I’m going to work in Uganda. However no matter what job I’m going to have, I should keep a curious mind. You can really know a lot from asking questions. I’m so excited that I can live in a totally different culture for more than 2 month. I know I will really learn a lot from this experience!
Yes yes yes I need to go back and continue my putting-everything-in-a-tiny-suitcase fight.
And yes I’m so thrilled for this trip!
When we first arrived at the airport, George, one of the staff members of Katosi met us and took us to out hotel in downtown Kampala. We loaded up into a taxi, called a matatu, and I was momentarily confused by the driver getting in on the right side until I remembered that Uganda was first a British colony. The city population has grown faster than it has developed and the roads are in shambles. I think there may be one or two roads here that are actually paved, the others are littered with pot-holes and bumps or simply a lack of pavement. It isn't too bad if you know what to expect, just don't come here expecting anything close to an effective and nice transportation system. Not many people drive themselves and the two main forms of transportation are matatus (van-sized taxis) and boda-bodas (a hybrid between a motocross bike and a motorcycle). The streets are full of these two vehicles and they definitely do not stop for pedestrians much less each other. "Look before crossing" has taken on a whole new meaning.
On our first day, we ate breakfast near our hotel at "The Bread and Cake Shop" and then we got escorted around Kampala by Andrew and Ben. They took us to Oweeno where we bought our cell phones and were overwhelmed by the massive market full of every type of good you could imagine. I'm sure we were a sight to see, nine American girls walking through the Oweeno market looking somewhat overwhelmed and definitely out of place. We then headed over to the crafts markets on Buganda Road and sat at nice coffee shop called 1000 Cups. It seems to generally attract only white customers and was much much calmer than the oweeno market. We then toured Garden City conveniently located near our hotel and complete with a movie theater, bowling alley and supermarket. Not what you expected? Me neither.
We stayed at the New City Annex Hotel on Dewinton Road. It is located in the heart of Kampala near some fancy hotels, banks and parliament. The staff was very accommodating and the rooms weren't bad at all. We had three to a room and access to a bathroom and toilet (note the distinction). The restaurant downstairs also had good food for all three meals and was reasonably priced.
On our second full day here, the four Katosi Womens Development Trust interns had orientation at the Katosi main office in the Lungujja district of Kampala. The office also happens to be my home for the next eight weeks. Scarlett and I will be sharing a room in the office (which really is more like a house) right across the hall from Vaal, the administrative assistant. The office is very pleasant and I'm excited to move out there tomorrow. Lungujja is not in the heart of Kampala and is much quieter and calmer than the bustling downtown. The office is situated directly next to a church and a small orphanage. In my down-time I would love to volunteer at the orphanage and attend some of the church services.
We stayed at the Katosi office all morning and then had lunch with the staff. Reheema gave us an overview of what Katosi stands for and all the ongoing projects. We then discussed the roles of the interns and talked about some of our desires and expectations for the summer. After a quick tour of the house, the three other interns and I sat outside and played with some local children while we waited for lunch to be served. It started as a simple paddy-cake game and turned into a big dancing circle with a lot of singing that I didn't quite understand and jumping around and laughing. I'm sure they all ran home after to tell their friends they had talked to and played with a Mzungo.
After talking with Reheema and Vaal today, I am excited to start working with Katosi on Monday. I am going to be helping with grant proposals, project write-ups and expanding their international donor base. I hope to work with Global Giving and set up an account for Katosi and get some of their projects up on the site. I am pumped about the possibilities for what I can get involved with and excited to learn more from these incredible women. I will be sure to keep you updated with any new events!
This morning, Scarlet and I moved into our room in the Katosi office and are getting settled in and resting. It has been a week of getting introduced to this city and I can't wait to explore it more!
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Greetings from Kampala!
It’s been 2 full days here, and I can easily say Uganda is one the greatest places I’ve ever been! The lifestyle is so different- walking down the street people call out “mzungu!” meaning “white person”. All the interns are finally together and it’s been great exploring the city together. This morning we went to the biggest market “Oweena”, it was huge! You have to be so careful buying things- the people triple the prices for the “mzungus” so you have to bargain like crazy. Colleen, one of the interns, got proposed to in the market. Sadly, she had to turn him down.
Everything here is Obama-mania too. His face is on t-shirts, dresses, bolts of cloth. Any worker or taxi drive will immediately bring up Obama the second they think you are from the US. Luckily, we’ve all avoided sickness, but I still look at every meal as a game of Russian roulette with my stomach. Tomorrow all the Katosi interns are going to the Kampala office for our orientation & meet n’ greet with the staff of the KWDT- can’t wait to see what I’ll be doing! Off to Katosi on Sunday to start work Monday! Until next time!
Sunday, May 23, 2010
On the way to Uganda, we even get to spend the night in Dubai! We are going to arrive there pretty late, and I will probably be soooo tired from the plane ride (which is actually my favorite part of traveling because you get to just sit in one place, sleep, watch TV, and have people bring you food!). But anyway, I am for sure going to go exploring in Dubai. How could I be there and just go to sleep in my hotel?? I cannot ignore Dubai's palm tree-shaped islands and buildings with rotating floors. I do not care if I am up all night, I AM going to have an adventure in Dubai. The next morning, I am flying through Ethiopia, then I’ll arrive in Kampala and stay there about a week before I head off for my internship in Katosi. How baller!
I am going to miss Chapel Hill so much, but I think I am ready to experience something new and exciting! Since the semester ended, I have been frantically running around saying bye to my friends, hanging out with my family, and spending my entire life savings on every possible thing I could ever need in Uganda. I have a tendency to over-prepare and over-think things, especially when I am traveling. I pretty much been living with a mountain of things to pack in my room, which has almost given me a nervous breakdown a few times, haha! So at this point, I have done all the preparing anyone could possibly do. I think I am so meticulous about getting logistical things ready because I know there are so many other things I cannot possibly prepare myself for. I am going to be sad, homesick, and probably incredibly lost at some point during the summer, but I also know that, no matter what happens, I am going to learn so much.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
I'm freaking mostly because I'm excited, and some because I'm a natural born spaz. In response to J. Reddy's blog about cutting back on her food portions, I've actually been doing the opposite and eating enough to sustain a fully grown elephant. But seriously, I've eaten like 3 chocolate milkshakes today and it's only 1:12 pm.
As a rookie traveler, I've never been anywhere with the exception of Niagra Falls in 6th grade. Needless to say I'm a travel wuss, although I'm sure Canada does have its rough spots. Basically my goals are to rid Africa of as many mosquitoes as humanly possible, to learn everything I can, to help everyone I can, and to not get stampeded by any of the numerous amounts of wild animals. We'll see how that's going when I post again next week. Uganda, you aren't gunna know what hit you.
Monday, May 17, 2010
All nine of the interns have spent over a semester preparing for this trip with weekly meetings, trainings, fundraisers and grant applications, but the time has finally come to actually board a plane and go live in Uganda. It's kind of scary and surreal to be honest because all of the sudden things that were once just discussions and handouts are now about to be real-life experiences. I don't really know what to expect. I know that I'm excited and scared and nervous and thrilled all at the same time. There are so many emotions and anticipations that sometimes I don't even know what to think.
Over the last week I've been getting together supplies and items to take to Uganda, both personal belongings as well as materials for my internship. I've managed to come up with some office supplies to donate as well as clothes and other various items. I'v trying to limit the amount of personal items I'm bringing because I have a tendency to overpack, but it's hard to try and sort through the necessities and narrow down all the random "suggested" lists that various friends and past interns have given me. In the end I know it does not really matter what I bring and all these material possessions are just a small piece of a great adventure and learning experience.
I've had the opprtunity to travel abroad many times with my family, missions trips and through study abroad, but in all my world travelling I've never been to Africa. All of my pre-trip expectations are based on other's stories, pictures and experiences and while I'm excited to travel to an unknown place, the "unknown" of it is kind of overwhelming. I'm expecting some culture-shock and I know I will feel uncomfortable at first, but I'm ready for a challenge. It's going to be especially hard to be away from friends and family and have limited contact with them. (although I will say that, like Jamilla, I will be happy to be away from all the facebook, email and internet onslaught of our culture)
I have already collected a large pile of books and journals to take for entertainment and to document my life while abroad. I plan on taking my camera, so hopefully I will be able to upload some pictures to share while I am in Kampala and working with Katosi.
In spite of my nerves, I know that this opportunity is the chance of a lifetime and will be a great stepping stone for me in my future career pursuits. I have so much to learn and I am willing and ready. Can't wait to share my adventures and new experiences with you!
Get ready Uganda, here we come.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I have a wisdom tooth growing in (awesome timing) so I have a dentist appointment tomorrow to make sure nothing crazy goes down with it while I'm in Uganda. I'm really just excited to see what it's like, to meet the kids at New Hope and to be away from technology for a bit.
I'm racking up on my books and refurnishing my iTunes, ready for three months away from Twitter and UNC and people who move too fast. I'm sure I'll be ready to come back to it all circa August, but right now, I'm excited.
I've also started eating less....One: because that Junior 15 was not a joke and two: because I know my diet will be all kinds of buckwild in Uganda, and I don't want to get there and feel like I'm starving.
Talked to Miranda on the phone today about Mountain Shoes and water filters, feeling really positive that she's my travel buddy. :)
Welp, that's it for me. Off to a birthday potluck. Until next time.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
So, today is Tuesday, May 11 and I leave for Uganda in approx. two weeks. I am very anxious, nervous, and excited all in one. Currently, I have nothing packed. NO GOOD! However, me and my mom are going shopping for the essentials tomorrow. I just hope that I have everything I need. I dont want to get over there and realize I have forgot my Malaria medication! Jamilla just sent me a master list of what I need so me and my mom are going to go off that! HA! Shoutout to Jamilla! My other concern is safety, but its nothing major. Im just nervous because this is my first time out of the country. Overall, I am exited though. I cannot wait to meet so many new people and explore Uganda. I know it will be the experience of a lifetime. Until next time....