Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 7: Hoima (Well Locations)

Definity feels more like Africa now! I slept in Sarah's bed under a mosquito net.  Sweating just laying there! So hot in Uganda! Finally fell asleep (with white noise app running on my phone - there is electricity here) and really slept pretty well. Until Christa sent me four texts of Hunter at 2am, ha! ;) Worth it though - he's the cutest little thing I've ever seen! :)


Crazy loud bell rang at 5am. Are you serious?! All the girls got up to study. It really is nuts how much they study here! I slept another hour until I heard Sarah stir next to me around 6am and another bell rang. (Think super loud old school bell.) Study time done, time to get ready for breakfast. I threw on some clothes and walked out. Still pretty dark.  All the girls, scurrying around to get ready for school, stopped and knelt down in front of me to say good morning. Holy cow girls. I'm nothing special!!  It was awkward, but part of their culture I guess.


Another bell at 6:20. Porridge was ready. Breakfast time! They lined up and the cook scooped it from a black kettle off a fire in to little plastic cups. I had to try it! Not going to lie, it's pretty bad! Like super runny/watery potatoes or something. No taste and kind of gritty feel in your mouth. I drank the whole mug full though! 


Girls finished getting ready for school. Sarah had them line up for pictures. Four different schools: Morningstar Christian, Millenium, Bwikya Muslim, Kitara. They left around 6:40 to make it to school by 7. They all walk. 


I needed to "bathe" at some point, so I figured I would give it a shot since the girls were gone. One "shower" at hostel, which is an open area with cement floor and little drain out back. Me trying to figure out how to shower out of a little basin would probably scar them for life, ha. Sarah filled my basin and carried it back for me. So there I stood: naked in Uganda with a little water basin and my bar of soap. I splashed as much water on me as I could (COLD water), then stood IN the basin to see if that worked, then just dumped it over me. Surely one of those was right, ha. I actually felt pretty clean afterwards, minus my feet. I've given up on them this trip...


I just couldn't figure out how to wash my hair like that, so I got dressed and walked out to the little water spigot and squatted way down and held my head under it to wash my hair. It all worked pretty well. At least I thought so. The cook and guard thought it was pretty funny though. I'll still call it a successful morning of bathing in Uganda!


After I was ready for the day (as ready as I was going to by anyways), Sarah and I sorted through the stuff I brought for the girls. 30 backpacks, 30 notepads, 60 pens, bibles, bracelet making stuff, and nailpolish. I also brought a couple pairs of rain shoes / boots and gave on to Sarah. She looooved them!! Like, A LOT, ha! She is too cute and just so sweet! 


We sat around on the floor of her room and just chatted for awhile...and tried some of my snacks I brought l. Jonas over slept and was running behind. While we waited, Sarah showed me the baskets the girls have been working on. They're so cool, and I'm hoping to bring some home with me!


Jonas finally shows up  at 8:45 - an hour and 45 minutes later than I thought he was going to. It's Africa time! We started walking out the door  in to Hoima to the ThinkHumanity office. First time I've seen outside in the day light. You won't believe what we took a boda-boda down! And about half way down the path, one came to get us! I was squished in between two Ugandans riding down a red dirt road on a motorcycle. Pretty cool way to start the day if you ask me...

We pulled up to the ThinkHumanity health clinic and I got the grand tour from JP and Nurse Jane - while I held her cute little 3 month old baby girl named Decent.  The health clinic is pretty cool. It's just so awesome what Beth has done! It's pretty small - just two buildings - but they do a lot! And they opened another health clinic in Kyangwali refugge camp! She is helping so many people! :)

They said they were "very near" Hoima. I guess I thought that meant like 5 minutes or something. 30 minutes later, we're driving down a tiny dirt road through the bush, and pull up to a school area.  And we werent even to be well spot yet!

First pulled up to Moonlight Primary School and kids weren't too sure about me.  We drove down a little red dirt road for a long time.  It is pretty far out in the bush - I doubt they get many "muzungu" out there.  Walked from there to well site.  Holy freaking cow it is SO hot here.  Like I need a towel to dry the sweat off kind of hot.  Woman and her toddler son were filling up filthy jerry cans with water from a hole in the ground. Just couldn't believe it.  New well is built and will be operational in another week or two, so that was great.

Second area we went to, Kanakumba, does NOT have a well yet or money for one...and they need one bad.  Would serve around 3,000 people in the surrounding villages.  When we walked up, saw four boys - probably ages 10 down to 3 - filling up their cans with filthy water.  Just blows my mind how they even are alive drinking that!

Next stop was Morningstar Christian high school, where ThinkHumanity sends some of the girls from the hostel.  They built a well there for the school and surrounding area to use.  Was so great to see an operational well.  Saw water around there that they used to use.  Yuck.


Fourth location was Kadyabuhire and they definitely need a well, too.  Saw a teenage boy there drinking the water from the ground, and another woman carrying a can on her head from the same spot.  A new well there would serve around 4,000 people.  It has been a very dry "wet season" - not much rain - and the water is low and so gross.  These people desperately need access to clean water!


Headed back to Hoima and stopped for lunch at Eve's restaurant. It was buffet style and I ate everything the four Ugandans did.  Rice, greens (awful!), beans, avacDo, posho (really awful), sweet potato, goat and chicken. All kind of mixed together, ha. I ate most all of I except the goat, greens, and posho. Couldn't do those. Can't believe the poor girls were stuck with posho before!  (Oh, and pineapple for dessert!) Really hoping my stomach agrees with it all...


After lunch, we dropped the other guys off at the health clinic, and Jonas and I stopped by the furniture store! I sent some money earlier this month to have furniture built for he girls here: 3 big tables, 6 benches, a chalkboard, and a bookshelf. Things just move so slow and take forever here! I got to see the almost completed bookshelf, and three of the benches were done! I was pretty excited to see that! He said it would all be done by Saturday, but I wouldn't hold my breathe on that, ha. (Chalkboard is already done and at the hostel.)


We left the car with John and then Jonas took me on a boda-boda to the other side of Hoima where he lives in a little apartment complex to use he Internet. I figured I should at least let everyone know I'm still alive in Uganda. :)  Its so funny to be here in Hoima. I haven't seen one other white person since arriving, and everyone stares at me and the kids all yell, "Hey muzungo" and waive.


We just got back to the hostel and its 3pm.  Not going to lie -- I'm hot, sweaty, filthy, covered in dirt, and sunburnt, ha. It's kind of been a rough day! ;) I think I'm going to lay down for a quick nap before the girls get home between 4 and 4:30. (Word to the wise: If you have a problem with getting your feet disgustingly dirty, don't come to Africa. :) )




Didn't have any problems falling asleep. Sarah said she would wake me up at 4 or 4:30. I woke up on my own and 4:50 and the girls still weren't home... School days are much longer here than in the states!


I was kind of hungry so I had some fruit snacks. I am SO glad I brought all these snacks. For real. I brought a ridiculous amount and they're dwindling! 


So...this is probably over-sharing on my part, but I haven't gone number two since Tuesday night at Sophies. Which was almost 48 hours ago (when I took that cipro after the Indian food).  I;m not worried yet, but getting there. And when I woke up from my nap, I felt like I could go. And wanted to do it before the girls got home because there is no way I can shut the door when I go in there. I leave it half open. The smell is absolutely just too much - and it's too hot - with it closed. So off I went, Kleenex in hand for toilet paper. (They don't use it here.) Let's just say doing your business while you're squatting over a little hole - and I mean little - isnt the easiest, ha. But it's a good thing I can go fast, because you can only hold that position with your shirt over your nose for so long.  Oh and the bugs! Ugh - they're everywhere in there, of course. So don't forget, you have to swat those away from the exposed area with the other hand - without peeing on yourself and keeping your pants out of the way and off the ground. (And if its dark out, you have to hold a flashligjlht too. Good luck with that.) I can only imagine how hilarious this would look...  Oh the experiences of Africa! ;)


So anyways, sorry for an entire paragraph on going to the bathroom here, but it really is an ordeal! ;)


The girls started getting home closer to 5:30. Only an hour later than I thought.  Not bad for Africa time! ;) As they walked in, I got a picture of each of them in their school uniforms for their sponsors back home. (They each have ONE uniform they wear everyday.) I made each of them stand there until they broke down and laughed, or at least gave me a pretty good smile. I think they turned out pretty good! :)


After they were changed, six of them (Immaculate and Clemmentine included) got to walk in to town to the market with Sarah and I to buy fruits and veggies for dinner with the money from Feed Just One.  I actually have one of their shirts on today. And now I'm shopping with the money from it to buy these girls some decent food. So cool. :)


We bought potatoes and cabbage and pineapple and rice and bananas and onions and eggs and tomatoes. I think that's it. SO MUCH better than the posho they used to eat! And let me tell you, all that stuff is HEAVY to carry as far as we did. They could really use some of those big reusable shopping bags so they don't rip and so they don't have to pay for them every time. We had to stop a couple of times to rest because the girls' hands were hurting.

Immaculate (left) and Clemmentine (right) carrying food from the market

When we got back to be hostel, the girls went right to work peeling and cleaning everything for dinner. It takes a lot of work to cook for 30 girls plus staff! They've all got it down though. (Note to self: send the poor girls some potato peelers! Someone is going to cut a finger off with those knives!) ;)


While several of the girls stayed to help prepare the food, the rest of them went in to the main study room - a big room with cement floors/walls, one chalkboard, and one lightbulb - and started singing songs. These girls can sing! It really is beautiful! I sat down in there and they sang and sand sang - and even danced some - probably for a couple of hours! Then several of them got up one at a time and shared their "testimony," which was just their story of life before ThinkHumanity basically. They were all pretty shocking, and they are all so so SO grateful for the opportunity they have here at he hostel. And they say over and over how hard they are going to work, how they ate going to be nurses and doctors and lawyers and engineers and how important it is that they come back and help others in their community (the refugee camp) just like they have been helped. I almost cried!! They're totally getting the ripple effect!! Beth and the other workers here have truly started something amazing...they're going to make giant waves of change!! :)  (Oh, and they all speak English here, it's just hard to understand sometimes with  the accent. All the girls are from different areas and speak different languages, so they communicate with English. All the schools are in English, too.) One of the girls, Julian, talked for a long time, and she was just hilarious! I wish I would have recorded it. She thanked me for every little thing and went in to detail about each. How nice the new chalkboard is because they can actually see it and write on it. I guess the old one was small? How excited she was to use her new bible on Sunday, etc. She was so dramatic and had such a big personality!


After songs and testimonies, some of the girls acted out little scenes about HIV/aids, going to the clinic, how important it is to not work when you're pregnant and have a baby on your back, etc. They were definitely entertaining! Immaculate did one where she played a guy with aids and she did a very dramatic job of dying at the end. I was cracking up. :)


Dinner still wasn't ready (they eat LATE here), so Sarah brought in all the orange backpacks with some goodies in them for me to pass out to the girls. Holy cow were they excited! And when they found out there was food in there - a little dried fruit thing - they went nuts squealing and clapping! So they each came up, one by one, and knelt down in front of me to get the bag. Some of them wanted to shake my hand, too, and a couple of them couldn't contain themselves and hugged me, ha. They ate all just so sweet. I'm pretty sure they think I am some amazing person or something, which I'm not. Or maybe this is how they treat everyone, I don know. It was pretty cool to get to give them the stuff and see their eyes just light up! Most of the girls either carry their stuff to school in their hands or in a plastic bag, so the little backpacks turned out to be great! I passed out the markers and they went to town decorating them. :)


It was getting late (by my standards) by this point, and dinner still wasn't ready. And to top it off, I wasn't feeling well. Awesome. I excused myself to the bathroom and went to Sarah's room to just lay my head down for a minute, but she came to get me to eat. I just couldn't do it. I don't know if it was a combination of heat exhaustion and the food for lunch or what, but I was dizzy and I thought I was going to throw up. I managed to sit there on the floor with the girls for a few minutes - at 9:45 when they wete eating (they must not require much sleep)! They had huge heaping bowls of food - I can't believe they eat all that! Sarah gave me two little scoops of five and a piece of pineapple. I stated at it for awhile and stirred it around. Tried one bite of rice and couldn't do it. I whispered to Jonas that I didn't want to be rude, but I didn't feel well and needed to go lay down. He said it was fine.


 I came to Sarah's room, washed my face with a little neutrogena make-up remover clothe and got in bed. I don't think I lasted 5 minutes and didn't even hear Sarah come in to get ready for bed - and the door is a giant steel squeaky thing! Just needed some sleep...I think it was heat exhaustion + dehydration.


More to come tomorrow (Friday)...


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