Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Oli otya Nakato?

How are you, Nakato? My new Uganda name is Nakato, meaning the younger twin while Kristen's is Babirye, the older twin.

I have fallen in love with Katosi. A small fishing village on the shore of Lake Victoria, Katosi has a unique serenity about her, maintaining a balance between the public and private spheres of life. Kristen and I arrived Sunday afternoon, not knowing what to expect. We were immediately welcomed with open arms by Maama Gertrude, our host and mother for the next two months. She is a lovely lady with six grown children and a large friend network in the community. In the evenings, there are always people coming and going from her house, watching TV, holding conversations, and praying.

Also living at her compound is a mother with her three small children. Abraham and Dan (4 and 3) quickly warmed up to our presence. Rose (1.5), however, is still a little unsure. This is the case with a lot of children. Most will run up to us excitedly, while others will see a muzungu (white person) and start crying! Luckily, this doesn't happen often. There is also a boy named Paul who takes care of Ana, the pregnant cow. She is due in July. Cow birth anyone? And Robina, a sweet, quiet lady, who assists Maama Gertrude with the house chores.

We have meet several members of Katosi over the last three days. Notably, Raymond is a young gentleman, a student studying medicine at a university in western Uganda, who has graciously taken Kristen and I on an extensive two-day tour of Katosi. We have fed Papas monkeys bananas, learned how the fishing boats are made and their different uses, milked a cow, visited the police station to introduce ourselves, grazed a goat, learned how to make bricks, hiked to the top of the hill overlooking Katosi and the surrounding lands (gorgeous view!), played with the children, been introduced to the variety of crops grown in the area, explored the market, and traveled to Mukono, the nearest city with internet, one hour's ride from Katosi. He also showed us a few isolated locations where we can occasionally go to have some quiet time. Tomorrow, Heidi, the Peace Corps volunteer and our supervisor, will return to Katosi and we can begin working with the schools.

It has been an exciting first week. Next week, we shall settle into a routine and begin working on our projects. Yesterday, Raymond said "There is beauty in all things." I could not agree more. We were standing on a road with completely different views in opposite directions. On one side was the sand yard where sand is taken to build houses. It is a large expanse of red clay, small sand hills here and there with cliffs in the back where sand has visible been removed. One length of earth revealed the various sediments packed below the surface of the ground on which we walk. The earth contains so many hidden secrets, waiting to be discovered and noticed. On the other side was an oasis. Pools of water covered in part by water lilies and marsh grasses providing landing grounds for several different bird species, including the rarely seen national bird, the grey crowned crane. There just happened to be two standing side by side enjoying a mid-day meal and rustling their feathers. The grey crowned crane is on the endangered species list; thus, we were very fortunate to see them and so close. Beyond the water began a forest, providing shelter from the sun and a home to many more creatures.

There truly is beauty in everything. Sometimes we only need to slow down our pace of life to find it. While the pace of life is slower in Uganda, it allows time for reflection and appreciation of everything that is around me. I am ecstatic to spend these eight weeks making Katosi my home, growing, learning, and giving.

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