Well here it goes an attempt to write a proper blog entry from Uganda. If I'm honest I've attempted a couple of times but everything is just so different and alien that I've had and still have no idea exactly what to tell you or where to begin. But here it goes… (Finally got around to it Claire and MumJ)
I guess the best thing to do is go back to the beginning and start there. Arriving in Uganda we spent the first couple of days in Kampala, the capital. All 19 volunteers had a mini induction which consisted of going to the American club where I had my first (of now many) samosa- so good! We also had a lecture which covered greetings (they go on for a while), hand hygiene, hopes and fears etc. etc. Then before we knew it we were leaving the luxury of showers, flushing proper toilets, familiar food and each other and setting off for what is now reality, our projects. The hour and a half journey from Kampala out to our new home successfully made me feel completely overwhelmed and very small- I certainly felt the number of countries and expanses of water between me and South Uist! To get to our project we first had six of us plus four people's years' worth of luggage squashed into a car- this was only the beginning! From there we got a taxi (taxi's in Uganda are not like that in the UK- they are instead mini bus style vehicles that work like buses.) A taxi holds 15 seats and normally these 15 seats are occupied by about 20 plus people. I have officially left any sense of having a 'personal bubble' behind me! It is also typical to be seated next to live chickens, dead chickens, banana bunches, smelly unidentifiable food and sticking out elbows. That said it makes going anywhere an adventure and you can't avoid the fact that this is an experience I couldn't have back home. Having finally reached Le Kojjo- where I stayed the first month- I had my first proper Ugandan meal. As we were told on our training course there is a reason there are no Ugandan restaurants! (Making Uganda seem bad now but its not!) Every Uganda meal it would appear must contain one thing- posho! Posho resembles and has the texture of mashed potato; it is fairly bland but cheap and filling. It is basically maize flour cooked in banana leaves and served in dollops. Also typical Ugandan food may contain Matoke (a type of cooked banana), beans and if you are lucky you may get silver fish (like sardines but stronger), cabbage, sweet potato (different from the UKs) and my favourite pumpkin!
After eating with our bosses, the schools Director of Studies and also the family at Kojjo we got to see our rooms. We had one bedroom painted dark blue- which had two beds, a shelf and nails on the wall for hanging clothes and a storeroom which contained a table and jerry cans. We were left to sort ourselves out until the next day when we were given a tour of the area by David, our host, who is also the head teacher of the school.
The first week here was awful! The school was still on holiday and other than attending three very chaotic teachers meetings we had little to do other than sit at home, be homesick, boil water, attempt to light the charcoal stove and realise how little we could do. The next week however eventually came and so therefore came teaching.
I'm head of the Arts and Crafts department (of which I know nothing as it is all according tot the curriculum to be African weaving etc. still I'm going to be getting weaving lessons from one of the teachers at school once I get hold of palm leaves). I'm teaching P5 English and social subjects, P4 maths, P3 reading, P2 reading, music and news (like 'show and tell' only what you saw on the way to school) and P1 news. Teaching is currently proving exhausting as I try to get use to it, but that is good as I have less time to miss home and also fell like I'm doing something important. It also has its difficult moments as language barriers have to be crossed, classes of 50 plus with huge range in ability kept focused, and the lack of resources creatively overcome. Yet I think this adds to the feeling of success when P3 wants to read, a P5 writes a letter without spelling mistakes and P4 stop looking at you blank when you write algebra equations on the board. Teaching also has its funny moments such as when I was covering Beth's English class when she was ill, we made a deal that every word they had to learn in English I had to learn in Luganda, my p5 class wrote me letters informing me about themselves and one boy told me when he's older he is going to marry me! It's also frustrating when you hear of their ambitions to become doctors, nurses, lawyers, pilots and one future president and yet you know that there is little chance of this happening as their families cannot afford secondary education.
Just realised how long this is becoming and so I will quickly move on to Saturdays. On Saturday afternoons there is a performing arts youth programme. This consists of about 30 teenagers (some older than me) coming to sing and dance. I'm trying to learn the dances and have become a member of the dance group- my attempts at joining in traditional Zulu tribal dances as you can imagine causes great hilarity amongst everyone- though they are very encouraging! Currently terrified though as this Sunday we have a community concert to show off our dancing! Wish me luck!
Also one final piece of news… since moving to Uganda I have moved house. It was decided that Beth and I living in Kojjo wasn't the best idea for a number of reasons and so we are now living in Kabembe with our boss David, his mother- 'Mama' and various other family members. They have made us very welcome and want us to feel part of the family. We moved here on Tuesday and still need to unpack!
Anyway will leave it there and will write more soon
P.S. May become addicted to chapattis and also amazing things called half cakes which I was convinced was banana bread turns out it is flour and sugar fried- not so healthy!!!
Oh and if you would like to write to me I would love to get letters (I'll reply too). My address is
Hope for Youth Uganda
P.O. Box 33226