Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oh, what I have been up to. That is a good question. After a couple semesters of not having much to do, I decided to head over to the secondary school and offer to teach. Well, it just so happens that they just had nine computers donated, but no teacher! Talk about my lucky day! Despite the many horror stories I have heard about teaching computers, I was psyched to finally have something to do and to work with secondary students instead of unmotivated teachers. Oh, boy. If only I had known what I was getting myself into. On day one we had already broken one computer and by “we” I mean some overanxious student who has never touched a computer in his/her life and won’t stop pushing buttons. By the time I came back from America two more were broken. Now, we have six computers and my classes have usually around sixty kids in them. I’m sure you are thinking, well why don’t you just break them into groups? Well, even that is a disaster because they are so excited to use the computers that they lie their faces off about whether or not they have already studied. By week four I am starting to get it under control, but that’s only when the power is on. I would say the power is off way more than it is on. Many days I come in the morning and sit around waiting all day for the power to come back. Needless to say, I real a lot of books. While teaching computers feels like punishment, I really enjoy the staff at the secondary school. They are much more educated than those at the primary school so we can talk about meaningful things and we understand each other because they know english well. You have no idea how nice that is after not having it for a year and a half.

The other day my friend Michael was home from boarding school and came to visit me. He started telling me about how the girls dorm at the school was having some trouble with cannibalism. Cannibalism in the girls dorm? I am intrigued. He went on to say that a couple of girls had woke up to find parts of their hair cut off. So of course, I question him about this wondering why he thinks these girls are cannibals. He says that some people in this area are cannibals, but once they go away to boarding school they have the witch doctor put a spell on them so they will not act in that way while at school. However, sometimes the spell wears off, as it did with these girls. He begins to explain that these people usually go around digging up dead bodies to eat and that he has heard them outside his window at night. Apparently, when they moved past his window they made a sound similar to that of a helicopter landing. He tells me that they have a few sharp teeth that come out to make eating the bodies a bit easier and that they only eat at night. I say, “Michael, are you telling me these people are vampires and if so, have you ever read Twilight, because if not you should borrow my books?” He said that he has seen some vampire movies and he was very scared because those are the kinds of people that live in the village. Hmmmm....

The next day I went to school and I sought out the director of studies to ask him about the problems in the girls dorm. He gets super awkward and tells me not to worry because they are taking care of it. After a bit of prying I get out of him that one girl in the dorm is performing witchcraft and that they are going to find out that day who she is. The following day he reports to me that they girls have identified the girl performing witchcraft and have sent her away from the boarding section, but not before calling the parents of the girl to come to the school. I expected that when they were told their girl was being accused of witchcraft that they would fight it, but they just said, “We had no idea she was performing witchcraft.” and took her home! I would like to know what the real story is. I bet she is a sleepwalker or talks in her sleep.

One day Carol was talking about how one of my neighbors was mad at the other for something, so he went to the witch doctor and had a spell put on him. For months, the normally hardworking neighbor, did nothing but sit around. The village is now scared of the neighbor who “put the spell on the other.”

In other witchcraft news, I heard on the radio the other day about this women who’s village has blamed her of performing witchcraft and killing many people in the village. Apparently, the last straw was when her neighbor was found “mysteriously dead.” The village destroyed all of her crops, killed all of her animals, and burned her house. Now she has no money, no where to go, and children to feed. These people do not take witchcraft lightly.

I love my dogs and I am more than happy I have them, but Ugandans and my dogs drive me bonkers. My village likes Mugezi and they are usually pretty good to her, but poor Fence has a rough life here. Mugezi and Fence were both teased quite a bit as pups. I used to find kids barking at him or throwing rocks at him for no reason. Now, Fence has some aggression issues, to say the least, and I feel my village is taking full advantage of it. When I was recently in the states for Ashley’s wedding, Fence bit a child. Now, of course my dogs are vaccinated against rabies and I have proof (as a side note they are the only vaccinated dogs in the village), but the family wants their child to be vaccinated anyway. It cost me fifty bucks, but I felt so bad for the kid that I didn’t really care. However, then they want ten dollars (I know it doesn’t sound like much, but its a lot of money for a family in the village) for the witch doctor. Now, I am annoyed. I paid for you to go all the way to the district hospital and now you want me to pay for some herbal remedy from the witch doctor that was never prescribed (this is where I lack in cultural understanding)? Not to mention there is no way the witch doctor costs ten bucks. That is outrageous for a local remedy. They were of course lying. Then, they tell me that he isn’t able to eat some foods and that they want money for rice. Now I am just plain mad. I loved this kid and now they are trying to get all the money they can out of me. I understand that my dog bite him and that I am responsible, but I did more than my part. It is when things like this happen that I question what I am doing here. I know, I shouldn’t complain too much because if this would have happened in America it would have been much different, but the point is that if the dog would have happened to belong to an Ugandan not much would have been said about it or they would only have had to pay for the witch doctor and not ten bucks. I guess sometimes I feel that some of these people don’t appreciate that I have left my family, friends, and culture to help them. Its like no matter what I do its not enough because I am not giving away all of my money.

Last week I am out with my two dogs, Carol’s dog, and another neighbor’s pup in a large open field where animals graze. It is the only place I can take Fence to let him run free (without any kids around) for a couple of hours before having to tie him back up. The dogs were playing and swimming for about an hour when they take off towards some sheep. I don’t think anything of it. My dogs will usually bark at them and maybe chase them around a bit, but that’s about it. So, I see them chase them a bit and then they are down in a hole and it looks like they are digging. When I reach the hole I realize that the two other dogs are eating a baby sheep. The baby is alive and just laying there while they have taken a piece of meet out of its behind the size of a baseball. I try getting the dogs away, but these are dogs who are not fed regularly and definitely have never had meat. They finally run away, but start chasing and trying to eat other sheep. While there are many men around and I am screaming in a panic trying to get all of the dogs away from the sheep, everyone is just watching me. Finally, my friend Tony heard me and came to help. It was awful. I had no idea what to do. It seemed like it would be better to just kill the poor thing, but it wasn’t mine and I felt too guilty. So, I carried him home. Of course I arrive at Momma Carol’s, covered in blood and holding a sheep with a large hole in it, during the primary school’s break. Everyone looks at me and says, “Nalubega, your dog ate this sheep.” I wanted to scream! It wasn’t my dog. I told them probably fifty times that it was Carol’s dog and the neighbor’s dog, but still all I hear is “Fence has bad manners. He likes to eat animals and bite children.” Ahhhhhh! He only wants to bite your kids because your kids throw rocks at him and beat him for no reason and he isn’t the one who attacked the sheep! Did he want to eat it after it was half slaughtered, probably, but your dog would too! We decided to call our neighbor who is a vet and he came to see what he could do. Some of my good students were around and we decided to clean the wound and sew him back up. While this whole situation was awful, at least it was educational for the kids. They have seen more animal surgeries in the past year (the spaying and neutering of Mugezi and Fence and this) because of me. Anyway, I assume that the owner is not going to want the sheep. It is in bad condition and it might not be able to use its behind leg again and it would take a lot of time and energy to keep it alive. So, I figure I will buy the sheep from the man and then give it to Momma Carol to take care of.

I went to town to buy a baby bottle to feed it with and while I was away the owner comes to Momma Carol’s house. Apparently he was really mad because someone said that my dogs had attacked his sheep. However, Momma Carol told him that it wasn’t my dog, but that it was her dog. As soon as he finds out that it was her dog he calms down and all of the sudden decides he wants the sheep and about twelve dollars. If it would have been my dog he would have demanded much more. For the life of me I cannot figure out why he wanted to bother with this sheep. Later I find out that he is the care taker of that sheep and not the owner. However, he took the twelve dollars as a bribe. He told Momma Carol that if she gave him the money that he would tell the owner that he found the sheep that way and that a wild animal must have attacked it. He would also claim that he is the one that paid for it’s medical treatment so the owner will have to pay him back when in reality I am the one that paid. Momma Carol went along with it because it would probably cost her less money this way. This sort of thing is normal in Uganda so I didn’t really think anything about it, but then I saw the care taker yesterday and found out that the sheep had died. I couldn’t understand why it died, but either they decided to kill it or they never bothered giving it its antibiotic. It doesn’t annoy me that I wasted that money, but that that sheep had to go through so much pain only to be left to die later and all because the care taker wanted money. However, I have learned never to go anywhere in this village with someone else’s dog.

In other news, I only here for five more months! I cannot believe how fast the time has gone by and I cannot imagine what it is going to be like to leave this place. Especially the people who have made my time here worth the while!

Okay, my computer is going to die, so I am not proofreading! Forgive me!

Peace and love,


Monday, August 9, 2010

There is an old Peace Corps saying that says:

“Volunteers who go to South America come back to the States politically active, volunteers who go to Southeast Asia return spiritually aware and curious, and volunteers who go to Africa?-They come back laughing.”

About a year and a half ago I showed up in Uganda with a certain naivety and much excitement for the adventure I was about to begin. I had the hope of improving the lives of those in which I would be working and truly making a difference. I was surprised when I met volunteers who had been in country for over a year; they seemed like they didn’t want to be there or that they felt like they were not making a difference. Many of them drank a lot and others seemed to be unnessesaryily rude to the locals. It was incredibly baffling to me to find these qualities in a Peace Corps volunteer.

There were stories of volunteers keeping bottles of local whisky under their pillow at night. Stories of volunteers yelling at locals for any number of reasons. Stories of volunteers seeking anger management. My friend and I used to laugh about these things thinking these volunteers were crazy. However, now, after a year and a half, we get it. We understand the anger and the reasons why these people may want to drink.

I don’t know why it has taken me so long to understand. Perhaps it has taken this long to truly understand what is going on around me. Perhaps it is the large amount of failures and the few successes that have led me to reevaluate what I am doing in this foreign land away from my family and friends.

I know I haven’t wrote about some of my challenges that I feel have made me become somehow “crazy” so I will take the time to do so now.

Recently one of my best friends in the village was accused of beating his half brother. However, during the time of the supposed attack he was with me and about ten other villagers. At first I thought nothing of it. There is no way Ntale could be found guilty with all of these witnesses. I went to the police to see the report made by the brother. I explained to the police that Ntale was with me and others and that I would pay for his transport to come talk to all the witnesses; he told me he would. Two days later on the day we had decided he would come, I went to pick him up. He tells me he will not come and that there is no doubt that Ntale is guilty. That we are welcome to take the case to court, but that he is going to lose. He says that I should just pay the brother money. He then shut a door in my face. At this point the police man had never talked to anyone but the brother. Clearly he had been paid by the brother.

A couple days later Ntale decides to leave because his only other option is to go to jail. The police show up at my house before seven in the morning looking for him telling me I need to find him and bring him in. I was irate. They want me to do their job for them?

So, Ntale has been gone for a month now. Just the other day I was told that the brother “knows” that Ntale is living with me and that he is going to bring the police to search my house. Now, this is just the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. I live in a duplex with five other teachers and people are always around my house. Wouldn’t a rational person think that someone would have seen him in the last month? I am almost positive that if the police show up at my house again I am going to lose it just like those other volunteers.

Somehow I ended up with two dogs. Okay, so I am a sucker. That is how it happened. Mugezi is perfectly mannered and the village loves her. Fence (previously named Defense by someone other than me) is a little on the wild side. He used to be perfectly mannered, but the kids in the village love to tease him. I have caught them throwing rocks at him and barking at him. He has always loved to chase the kids, but now because they have annoyed him so much he sometimes gets a bit aggressive. I have had to keep him tied to prevent him from potentially hurting the innocent kids, but the mean kids love to take advantage of this. Yesterday, as usual, I found some kids up a tree yelling his name trying to get him to try to come after them or start barking. I have started threatening them that if they annoy my dog I am going to let him off his leash. I’m not sure what will happen if I do. He may bite them or he may just chase them a bit, but as far as I am concerned they asked for it. I know, it is mean and that it is going to end up with them in tears, but it gets old and I do not want to have a mean dog because they think they are funny.

Many Ugandans think it is entertaining when things smaller than them suffer. The other day a dog bit Fence on the leg and he was holding his paw in the air while crying. The owners of the dog that bit him could not stop laughing. They thought it was so funny that Fence was crying. I yelled at them and told them they had bad manners. I would have never done that a year ago, but after a year and a half of watching Ugandans beat children and animals and laugh I am losing it. It makes me so angry.

Somedays I just need time to myself. I want to stop being the prize muzungu and just be a normal person. I want to be able to go to an event and not be asked to give a speech, I don’t want to be asked for money, and I don’t want to be stared at everywhere I go. Ugandans are always greeting one another with these long elaborate greetings, but I feel that I get greeted more than the average person. I understand that it is a very friendly gesture, but it can become tedious. The greetings start out by asking how you are, thanking you for the work, asking how the dogs are, and asking where I am going.

I was having a bad day and just wanted to be alone so I took the dogs and decided to walk up the hill behind my house. Ten minutes into the walk I realized it was a bad idea. I had already been stopped five times to great people. A half hour later I made it to the top of the hill around the time secondary school students are making their way home from school. I make my way to the backside of a church to try enjoy the view and much needed alone time. No such luck. Three students follow me and begin to stare at me. I don’t mean they looked at me for a few seconds too long, I mean they stared at me for ten minutes. I gave up and decided to walk back home, but they followed me and told me to give them my dog. This again, is a compliment. It is a way of saying that they admire my dogs, but when you are used to hearing “Muzungu give me this give me that” it is hard to hear the compliment. On a normal day my response is, “If I give you my dog I will cry because she is like my baby.” Usually this makes us both laugh. However, this isn’t a normal day so my mean side came out and I said, “If you want my dog come take him, but just so you know he is going to bite you.” When they hesitate I walk towards them insisting they take “their” dog until they run away. I know. I know. I am awful, but please try to imagine a life in which you have no alone time and someone is always wanting something from you. Sometimes you just lose it.

The teachers I have come to train do not want my help. Most of them do not want to be teachers in the first place so to ask them to do their job well is asking way too much. I am always told, “Nalubega, that may work for your white children, but African children are stubborn and need to be beat.” I watch teachers physically and verbally abuse children almost on a daily basis. No matter what I have tried to change their minds it has not worked. I love these kids and in the year and a half I have known them I have learned more about them than their teachers have learned in five years. I could tell you where most of them live, who they live with, what is going on at home, and usually their dog’s name. If they ever are in trouble they come to me. To invest so much in these children’s lives trying to help them have confidence in themselves and then watch their teachers destroy it is difficult.

Ugandans love to tell me what I don’t know how to do even when I am doing it just fine. This partly comes from their belief that we have machines to do everything for us, which is somehow true, but also because they believe there is only one way to do everything. So, I am always hearing things like “You don’t know how to [insert verb here].” Things I don’t know how to do according to Ugandans are, but not limited to, holding a hoe, moping, eating, pealing, running, riding a bike, swimming, driving, and bathing.

Those are just a few of my challenges. I could go on, but then you would probably call me Negative Nancy and I would prefer if you didn’t. While some of you may be thinking I have lost my mind, others of you may understand how these things could make one a little crazy. For those of you who understand you may be wondering what I am still doing here. So, let me talk about what I love about Uganda and what keeps me here.

The other day I went on a field-trip with the school to visit another school. The vehicle that was picking us was two hours late. Once it arrived seventy students and ten teachers were packed into the back of a cattle truck. With the dust flying around us while the kids are singing, we are on our way. Five minutes later the truck is making its way up the hill and then the engine dies. We all file off and wait and then wait even longer. We waited for over two hours. Once the new truck comes we pile back in. Again we are making our way through the dust. We come to stop again. This time the tire has blown a mile away from the school and we need to walk in the afternoon heat the remainder of the way.

Once we reached, five and a half hours late, the students sang some songs, competed in a quiz bowl, played netball and football, and we ate food. We were only there for a few hours before it was time to pack back into the vehicle. As we are leaving the sun is setting, the air is cool, and the kids are signing Radio and Weasel (most likely upon my request). At that moment I realized there is no place I would rather be than with my newfound friends enjoying the day and then something hits me in the head. I turn to the teacher and ask him what is happening and he tells me we are being stoned. Sure enough I turn around to see kids throwing rocks and sticks at our vehicle. I could get annoyed about this, but the kids only took a break from their song, before returning to singing louder than before. That is thing thing about this day. To Americans this sounds like an awful day, but to Ugandans it was okay. No one was in a hurry; they were just happy to be able to go on this trip and enjoy one another’s company.

Every morning I take the dogs and we help my friend Tony take twenty cows out to pasture. I started going because we walk through empty fields where the dogs are able to run without annoying anyone. Usually I leave with Tony, but we meet up with a few others. After the cows are in the pasture we sit around and watch the dogs play and swim in the ponds. Even though my herding friends do not know much English and my Luganda is far from fluent we are able to communicate and we spend most of our time laughing. Tony and the others have come to love Mugezi and Fence. Even on days in which I am not able to go they take them with them. While there are many people in the village who do not understand the way many Americans feel about dogs, these friends of mine understand and I love spending a bit of time with them everyday

The students at the school are some of the most amazing kids I have ever met. For those of you who have been lucky enough to meet them, you know exactly what I am talking about. When they find me running in the mornings while on their way to school they will run with me, even if they are carrying a chicken. If they find me carrying something, no matter how small, they will insist on carrying it for me. When I ask them to do something for me and want to pay them they will tell me that they are a volunteer, a word that I taught them. They are always dancing and singing. Simply put, they are incredible and make me laugh every day.

While there are few very rotten people in my village, most of them are incredible and do everything they can to make me feel welcome and at home. Carol’s family has become my family away from home. If I am not around they take care of my house and dogs. If I come home late they will bring me food. When I am bored I can sit at their house for hours and when they are bored they come sit at mine. Whenever I need help I can ask them. Whenever they need help they can ask me. My life here is easier because I know them.

While I have failed in many things I know I have changed some of the lives I came to change. In no way am I doing it in the way I thought I would, but I am doing it. I know that I have made some people’s lives a bit brighter. While I may not necessarily see the differences now, I think that if I were to come back in ten years I would see them. I once read a quote that said, “To know that one has breathed easier because you have lived is to succeed.” If that is the measure of success then I have surely succeeded.

Which brings me back to the original quote. I get it. I understand why they would say that volunteers serving in Africa return home laughing. Because it is the only thing you can do. Either you laugh about the craziness and injustice of this place or you get mad, but even when you get mad you cannot stay mad because mixed in with all the bad there is so much good; it is just hard to see sometimes.

I hope this message has found you all under sunny skies!

Peace and love,


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Greetings everyone! I hope this message finds you all happy, well, and enjoying the spring sunshine! I must say, that while I feel blessed to have wonderful weather all year round, I am jealous that you get to enjoy the first warm day after a long winter. I am sorry I have been long, but the good news is that my computer is finally fixed! So, I should be updating my blog more regularly.

I have been rather busy for the past month. The students at the teaching college have been at various primary schools student teaching and I have been supervising them. It was lots of fun for me and felt like “real work.” Some of the student teachers were some of the best teachers I have seen in Uganda. They would have even been superb teachers in the states. There was one student that’s lesson ran short, but instead of having the pupils sit quietly he had them sing a song and dance. One kid played the drums on his desk, while the teacher called students up to sing a part of the song and dance for the class with him. They loved it. I loved it. There were even students outside his classroom wanting to get inside. It was the first time I have ever seen students in Uganda having fun in the classroom along with their teacher. While it was fun to supervise it was also somewhat frustrating. At the end of each week we would meet at the college and talk with the other supervisors about what needs improvement. Their complaints were almost always about the students’ teaching files. While yes, I believe lesson plans are important, I do not think they are more important than how you teach and interact with your students. When I would first come into a classroom I would look at previous supervision sheets filled out by fellow tutors to see what they felt were the teacher’s strengths and areas to be improved upon. Some of the comments were ridiculous making complaints about ties not being on straight on so on, but usually they were making some ridiculous complaint about the teaching file. While I would stay for the whole forty minute lesson, my counterpart and other tutors would stay in each lesson for maybe twenty minutes before moving on to the next which I find completely unfair. Usually the last fifteen if not twenty minutes is dedicated to giving an exercise. How can you give a student marks when you don’t even seen their teaching? Sometimes I feel like they enjoy watching students fail.

The library is finished! The carpenter came Easter weekend and built the shelves and on Friday we were able to move all the books into the library. Thanks to my cousin and his wife, Shane and Christin, we now have story books for the children to read! On top of that, the school was donated text books awhile back, but were not used. They were kept in boxes covered in dust. I knew we had some good books, but I didn’t realize how good. They are from the states and there are enough math books for the entire p7, p1, and p2 classes! It is awesome. I am so excited to begin using the library! Oh, and for those of you who bought the paper beads when I was home. That money paid for the book shelves! Thank you!

I am broke this month. Half of my monthly allowance went to fixing my computer and I am now remaining with fifty dollars for the entire month. Fifty dollars is what some teachers get paid a month. I’m going to try to make it on fifty dollars, but I am not sure if I can make it without taking money from my American account. I don’t have a family to support, however the dogs probably eat better than most children here. There are two things working against me. 1. Other Peace Corps volunteers. 2. The fact that I don’t grow my own food. I guess we will see if I can live on the salary of a local. I must add, that many Ugandans do not even made fifty dollars a month.

The other day I was talking to my Ugandan friend Gerald and somehow we got on the subject of fatness. All the sudden he says, “When you came back from America you were fat! I don’t know what happened....I guess you liked your momma’s cooking.” Thanks Gerald.

Dog stories:

One day I am out front acting like an Ugandan turning my front yard into dirt when some kids around start hitting each other. It is a rare occasion that I will yell at a the kids, but I get so annoyed when I am pouring sweat and I have kids beating each other. So, I put my hoe down and started yelling at them about how there is no hitting allowed at my house. However, it was in my broken luganda and I am already looking like a nut when Mugezi decides to jump and bite my skirt. As my luck would have it, her tooth gets stuck and pulls my skirt off. Now, when I said they were kids that might not have been the best description. They were fifteen year old boys and they were shocked. We laughed for a bit, I pulled my skirt back up, and continued yelling.

Ugandans love to give me advice on how to raise dogs which I used to find entertaining and now find annoying considering that almost everyone in this country is scared to death of dogs and the ones that do have them are starved. Some of my favorites are as follows:

You should put hot peppers in Mugezi’s food so she will be very fierce. (I find this one the most amusing. They are scared to death of her despite how friendly she is and they are giving me suggestions on how to make her mean?)
You should keep her tied up all day so she will become very fat.
You shouldn’t let your dog play with the big dogs or she will become pregnant. (a. she is a baby. b. I can’t choose my dogs friends for her when there are no fences in this country c. she is fixed (okay not yet, but next month)
Defense is teaching Mugezi bad manners. (This one is annoying for so many reasons that I cannot talk about without getting upset, but I will say that it is not true. Defense and Mugezi both have good manners...most of the time)
You should hold her upside down by her back legs for a while so she can become very fast. (This is just ridiculous. Every time the man who tired doing this to Mugezi comes over she starts crying and peeing. It has taken weeks of him bringing her meat for her to stop fearing him.)

As a puppy, Mugezi loves to play bite and chase anything that moves. However, that was proving to be a nightmare once the primary school was back in session. Mugezi has a brother, Defense, that lives across the road that I would bring over to play with Mugezi to give the kids a break. However, Defense has sort of moved in and I cannot say I blame. I love Defense, but sometime having two puppies can be a bit overwhelming to say the least.

Case 1: One day I call a meeting at the school with the school management committee and the PTA about starting a poultry project. When we start the meeting Mugezi sees me and comes running in the classroom. I pick her up, carry her back to my house, and lock her in. Once I get back to the meeting Defense sees me and comes running in. Again, I pick him up, carry him back to my house, and lock him in. I get just around to the front of the school when I hear horrific crying from one of the dogs. I turn around to see Defense dangling from the security bars of my window after a failed attempt to escape through the window. I panic and start running yelling his name. Once I get to him he is as happy as can be wagging his tail. I soon realize that he is stuck and the only way to get him out is to pull him back through, but I need help and no one is around. I stand there waiting holding his front half. Eventually, the head teacher sees me from the meeting and comes to help. Once he starts pulling him back through, Defense starts peeing all over my shirt. Perfect. Once he is out I decide to leave them out. I come back to the meeting covered in pee with two dogs tailing behind. We had to close the door and place a chair in front of it. Anytime someone would leave I would have to carry two dogs back outside. Ugandans have always thought I was a bit crazy, but even I am starting to believe it now.

Case 2: I let Defense stay at my house all day and don’t feel guilty about stealing my neighbors dog as long as I send him home at night to defend their house, hence his name. For a while he would come at 6:30 am with a couple of quiet barks. It wasn’t a problem because I get up then anyway. However, he then started coming at 5, then 3, and sometimes 11. The only way to break him of it, that I know of anyway, is to ignore his barking. The problem is that it will wake up all the teachers and their children resulting in the probability that they will poison him (I am told this happens often). So, every night I wake up to let Defense in whenever he chooses. Now, Mugezi has a baby mattress she sleeps on and when Defense comes in he tries sleeping in it with her resulting in a fight. So, Mugezi started jumping in bed with me. At three in the morning I am in no mood to fight with her, but a twin size bed and a dog that loves to cuddle is getting a little old.

Anyway, I hope you all had a wonderful Easter full of peanut butter filled eggs and pastel colored peanut M&Ms!

Peace and love,


p.s For those of you wanting to send me something and make my month here are some things I love!

Trail mix. Anything from Trader Joes. Dried fruit. Head bands. Any clothing item that you own that you think is old I would probably think is the greatest thing in the world and wear it extensively. PICTURES of YOU. Things that would make me look like the hippie I wish I was, ex. head scarfs. Hot chocolate. Music. Beef jerky. A book you love. Dog treats. Jewelry. Taco and other mixes of any sort. Taco Bell mild sauce. Letters. Music. Soup mixes.

For those who have sent me packages recently; thank you soososososo much. You are wonderful!!!!!!

p.s.s. my battery is going to die so I am using that as an excuse to not proofread!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I'm back!

Greetings everyone! First let me apologize for, as Ugandans say, being lost. Shortly after my last entry my keyboard on my computer stopped working. It’s a long story about me listening to music on my computer while taking a bath and deciding to change the song. I don’t know if those couple little drops of water on the keyboard are the cause or not. All I know that the next day it stopped working. As everything in Uganda, it is taking months to get fixed. Thankfully, Amber allowed me to use her computer to update you all!

Let me first tell you about my new love. Her name is Mugezi and she is the cutest little puppy ever. Okay, maybe not ever, but I think she is pretty darn cute. When I first got her I thought I would use this as an opportunity to show my village how intelligent and wonderful dogs could be and that they don’t need to fear and beat them. Knowing that teaching her tricks would make her seem extra clever, I named her Mugezi meaning clever. However, somehow it has been shorten to Gezi (or Moo if you’re talking to my sister Ashley who can figure out how to pronounce it). I have had her for a couple months now and it has been an up and down experience. When I first got her at four weeks old she was the not so proud owner of a bazillion fleas and a belly full of worms. In the first couple of weeks I took her to the vet a few times; once in tears because I was pretty sure she was almost dead. Luckily, after finding a competent vet (you wouldn’t believe how hard one is to find around here) and being de-wormed somewhere around five times she started acting like a normal puppy. The villagers thought I had lost my mind. I speak and worry about Mugezi more than they do their own children. At first, they thought it was crazy that I would walk her on a leash and take her just about everywhere I go. After a few weeks they started buying into it. Not only do they greet me, they greet Mugezi. If she is not with me, they are sure to ask where and how she is. They cannot believe she is a village dog because you cannot see her bones and her coat is so shiny. They are amazed that she can sit when I ask her. They laugh hysterically when she shakes and rolls over on command. When they ask me why she is so beautiful I say because I feed her. When they ask why she is so smart I tell them all dogs are. When they ask why she likes people so much I say because I don’t beat her.

Right now, having Mugezi is really working out and I feel like we are making a bit of a difference. Carol’s family is the owner of Mugezi’s mother. I have never seen them beat her and they feed her a bit better than most Ugandans feed their dogs, but for the most part they ignore her. When I have to leave Kiyumba Carol will stay at my house with Mugezi. In the beginning Carol acted like she liked Mugezi, but you could tell she couldn’t care less about her. She thought I was crazy for all the commotion I was making over her. At first, I let Mugezi sleep with me and she thought I was nuts. Last week I had to go away for some training and we sprayed for the bats (six dead and yet there are still more). Mugezi couldn’t stay in the house after spraying so Carol’s family offered to let her stay in their house. I couldn’t believe it. I do not know a Ugandan that lets their dog stay indoors. I get a call from Carol one night saying that because their mattresses are on the floor Mugezi keeps sneaking into bed with her. I assumed that she was rather annoyed by this, but when I returned she admitted that she actually enjoyed sleeping with Mugezi! She actually walked in just now and I told her about how I am writing about her sleeping with Mugezi. She told me she got a bed, but she will still let Mugezi sleep with her. It is outrageous and wonderful.

Ugandans are fearful of dogs, no matter how small, and the first few days of schools were ridiculously difficult. Mugezi was so excited to have all of these new friends, but they were terrified of her. They would come to my house to greet me, but Mugezi would make it out the door first and they would take of screaming and flailing their arms like a bunch of wild hoodlums. Of course Mugezi loves this and takes off after them. Sweet little Dissan, who knows Mugezi, did this. I thought he was joking, but after running in circles for a while hitting his head on my window and falling in a hole, he was in tears. On top of dealing with Mugezi, she has a brother that comes over to play first thing in the morning. So not only was I chasing one cute little puppy I was looking like a lunatic chasing two cute little puppies. However, it is now week two and the students and teachers love her. She has stopped chasing them and they now love scratching her belly and trying to get her to put her paw out to shake for them. Usually if I am going somewhere and cannot bring Mugezi, I leave her in the house. However, today I was meeting with several people at the school and I was able to leave her out without worrying too much. Every time I would check on her a child was playing with her or she would be sitting with someone under a tree while they were listening to the radio. My one fear is the road. She loves to visit her brother and Carol’s family across the street and while it is just a dirt road sometimes lorries and motorcycles are driving rather quickly. Overall, I’m glad I love having Mugezi around and I cannot wait for you all to meet her when she comes to the states!

Martin is one of my favorite kids in the village. I guess I shouldn’t say kid, he is sixteen, but in the seventh grade so sometimes I think of him in that way. When I first came to Kiyumba he asked me to explain what a “volunteer” was. I explained that it is someone who does work without pay. Most people here have a very hard time understanding this concept. They always wonder why we would do such a thing. One day, I asked Martin if he would fetch water for me and offered to pay him two hundred shillings. However, he refused to take the money. He said, “Madam Nalubega, I don’t want money; I am a volunteer.” He made my day. He actually makes my day everyday I see him.

On Valentines Day I will have been in Uganda for a whole year! I cannot believe how fast this year has flown by. I can remember my first day in home stay. I was not used to feeling so awkward and out of place and I was feeling a bit worried that I was not going to be able to make it two years. I have come a long way. No longer do I feel out of place and rarely am I awkward anymore. While one year seems like a long time, it does not feel like I have accomplished much of anything. I know that is not completely true; I have accomplished a lot of things on a personal level. I have many wonderful friendships here in Kiyumba, I am growing as a person, and I am realizing how truly amazing my family are friends in the states are. However, this second year I am hoping to accomplish more tangible things. When joining Peace Corps I remember thinking that two years was a long time, but they knew what they were doing when they required a two-year contract. I would say that most volunteers would agree with me when I say that it takes most of the first year at site to figure out how to work within this culture. Just now am I beginning to understand how and why schools work the way they do. Just now I am figuring out whom I can work with and who is just wasting my time. Hopefully, this next year will be as great as the first!

Finally all of this talk of a library is finally coming along! Now that school is back in session, after ten long weeks, I met with the deputy of the school and talked about a way forward in the development of the library. After taking another look at the room where the library will be, I realized that the school has way more books than I realized. While they are mostly textbooks, they are still something. Thankfully, my cousin Shane, his wife Christen, and their church have also donated seven boxes of books! I was super excited to receive them because they are storybooks instead of textbooks, which is hard to come by in Uganda. During holiday I had kids at my house overwhelmed with the wonderful selection of books and so far I have only received one of the seven boxes (even though all seven were sent together). The box I received also contained a lot of novels, mostly Hardy Boys, and the older kids have become bookworms. Carol and Kennedy will come over and we will just all sit around reading. It has been great to see because Ugandans do not read for fun; I have never seen a Ugandan reading a book other than a textbook. However, as with Kennedy and Carol, I am hoping to change that and create a culture of reading here at Kiyumba Primary. The room where the books are stored is a complete disaster with books everywhere and no shelving. Of course, the school has no money to purchase shelving. After awhile of discussing possible solutions to no avail, it dawned on me that when I went home in September many of my wonderful friends and family purchased some of the paper beads my students made. Because of that money, we are able to purchase shelving and hopefully buy some mats so the students can lie in the grass and read. I am super excited about the project finally taking off and cannot wait until we can begin using the library. Oh, and before I forget! My friend Carla and her classroom in Chicago have been saving their money for the library as well! With that money I am hoping to purchase some books in local language for the young ones who have not yet learned English. Thank you for all of your contributions!

Bonny is another one of my favorites. Not only is he incredibly polite and funny, he is also very intelligent. Bonny has lost both of his parents while he was young, but has since lived with his elderly grandfather in a village near Kiyumba. The first week of school Bonny was nowhere to be seen. Paol had told me before hand that Bonny would not be back at school, but I did not believe him; Bonny loves school. Towards the end of the week the p6 teacher came to ask me why my friend Bonny is not in school. Poal is there and informs us that Bonny’s grandfather kicked him out of the house so he had to go to Nyendo, the nearest town, to find a job and place to live. We made a plan for his two best friends, Paol and Martin, and I to go to Nyendo on Sunday to find Bonny and see if we can get him to come back to school. In the meantime Mr.Kisuli would visit the grandfather. Because I am cheap and the boys have no money, we decide we will walk to Nyendo. And because I am not very bright sometimes I bring Mugezi along, wear flip-flops, and no sunscreen because it wasn’t sunny. It took us two hours and ten minutes. Towards the end Paol took turns with me carrying Mugezi which passersby thought was more amusing than me carrying Mugezi. While we were exhausted it was a great to spend the day with the boys.
When we got to Nyendo I met many people in Paol’s family whom stay in Nyendo. We made it to the bakery where Bonny works and lives to find many other boys his age with bad manners. One passed me a note saying, “Will you play sex with me? My name is Mike. What is yours?” Bonny comes out with the biggest smile on his face and I forgot how much I missed having him around the past few months. I talk to Bonny a bit about why he is not in school and he tells me that his grandfather has refused to pay his school fees and has kicked him out, but he cannot tell me why. I’m not sure if he, himself, doesn’t know the answer, doesn’t have the English to explain it to me, or just doesn’t want to tell me. I’m not even sure if he is telling the whole truth. Many students leave school to take jobs making money. I talk to Bonny about how he wants to be an engineer; he always told me he wanted to be an engineer because he wanted people to call him Engineer Bonny. I ask him how he is going to reach his goal without finishing primary school. He says it is impossible to become an engineer because he doesn’t have the money for schooling. I have offered to pay his school fees and he told me he will return in a few weeks, but I am not sure if he is telling the truth.
I have been so impressed by a few teachers who have went out of their way to get Bonny back in school; I have never seen a teacher here go out of their way for a student. I told Bonny how all of the teachers have been asking about him and how everyone wants him back. He asked, why the three of us would walk all the way to Nyendo and I told him because, like everyone at Kiyumba, we miss him a lot and want him to come back. By the look on his face, you could tell he was surprised. I have talked with Bonny about his grandfather before and it seems that he is abusive and as though Bonny does not realize that even though his grandfather may not want him, we do. Tonight Mr. Kisuli said he would visit with the grandfather so I guess we’ll know his side of the story tomorrow.

Okay, perhaps this is enough for now. I know some people were asking about my holidays. They were wonderful. My friend Rachelle came and we cooked potatoes, green beans, apple crisp, and chicken. However, we were invited last minute to Carol’s house and they fed us so much food we couldn’t touch our own. Mr. Serwadda also brought us some food. That day Mugezi probably ate her body weight in meat we just could not physically eat. While it could not compare to spending the day with my family, it was great to stay in my village and spend it with my family of sorts here in Uganda.

Anyway, I apologize again for taking so long to update you all. I am not sure when I will be able to write again. hopefully I will have my computer back soon! Thanks for taking the time out of your busy lives to see what I have been up to! Miss you all!

Peace and love,


p.s. I just read a book by Kelly Corrigan called The Middle Place and it was great memoir about a father and daughter, both, diagnosed with cancer. If you are looking for something to read you should pick it up!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Muli mutya! I hope this message finds you all happy and well! I cannot believe it is almost Thanksgiving and that Christmas is in just over a month! This message is going to be short, but I wanted to send a short update!

Before I left for America I planted a garden. The villagers laughed when they saw me “digging” as they call it, but that is nothing new. The school was kind enough to build me a fence to keep the goats and cows from eating my food and when I returned from the states things were actually growing! I have tomatoes, maize, carrots, eggplant, green peppers, and beans. The other day I was thinking how easy it is to grow your own food. While it did take some work to actually cultivate the land, by hand of course, I have had to do little to no work since. The other day I was talking to a student and he told me how Mr. Kisuli had another student weed my garden the other day. Then another told me how Mr. Kisuli had transplanted some of my tomato plants. On top of that they had also pruned my plants for me! No wonder it has been so easy, everyone has been doing the work for me and I had no clue.

As many of you know I have been thinking about getting a dog lately. I keep going back and forth on whether I will do it or not, but now that there are puppies in the village I think I may just go ahead. Despite wanting them for how darn cute they are I really want to show Ugandans that animals are smart. There are so many dogs in the village and a majority of them are neglected, feared, or abused. I show them pictures of Gunner all of the time doing funny things like wearing a birthday hat, swimming, or just posing in front of the Christmas tree and they love it. The other day they were looking at a book with a photo of a dog playing frisbee and they could not believe it. They have no idea that dogs can learn. So, I am hoping that by having an Ugandan dog myself I can prove that all dogs, not just Muzungu dogs, are intelligent and deserve to be loved and taken care of. Or, maybe that is just my excuse to get a cute little puppy.

Holiday begins on the 26th lasting for over two months! I was talking with the deputy about starting a Life Skills club at the school teaching students about HIV/AIDS and how to make good choices. I want an Ugandan to teach with me to make sure the students are understanding so I was planning to start next term. However, much to my surprise, the deputy decided that it was important enough to start over holiday and even offered himself to come help out! I am super excited about this project and incredibly proud of Mr. Lubowa for seeing the importance of teaching life skills and offering his time. Volunteerism of this extent is not something I see often out of Ugandans!

I walked around the conner of the school yesterday afternoon to find a teacher hitting about twenty students on the butt. I just stood there and watched her. That usually puts them in an awkward position because they know they are going to be in trouble, but the cannot stop midway through. However, usually they start hitting them less hard when I am watching. It always surprises me about how upset I can get when I see this, but after awhile it actually became funny. I know that sounds wrong, but here is this ridiculous woman hitting fifteen year old with a stick on their butt. On top of that, it does not even hurt the kids. They run off towards me laughing. Apparently they were in trouble for not cleaning the compound and the way they see it is they got hit twice, which did not even hurt, and they got out of cleaning. I talked to the teacher afterwards and she says, “I did it because they were disturbing me.” I mention how this is not the first time I have had to talk to her and she says, “Last time I was only chasing them with a stick I didn’t hit them.” You were only chasing them with a stick? You are a grown woman chasing kids around in circles with a stick while they are laughing at you. On top of that, you are too slow to actually hit them. She says, “Well, I told them if they did not clean they were going to have to stay after school and finish it and when I went back they still were not cleaning so I had to hit them.” She does not get it. If she would have actually carried through with keeping them after school I am sure they would have learned next time, but they knew she wouldn’t want to stay after her self. It just so happens that tomorrow I was planning on teaching classroom management and discipline to the teachers at my school. I am excited because after this they have no excuse, but I have no doubt that they will continue beating children because it is easy and makes them feel good about themselves.

I was too lazy to proofread this; I apologize! If I do not talk to you before Thanksgiving, I hope it is wonderful!

Peace and love,


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hello everyone! I hope this message finds you all happy and healthy! Again, thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to read about mine!

Updates on the break in: There are none. Partly because the police are not doing their job, but mostly because I have chosen to forget about it. My things are gone and long gone. Most likely whoever stole them has sold them by now and most likely will not be found. I had my time to be upset and I don’t want this incident to hinder my time here. The village has been incredibly gracious towards me and sorry for my loss. Under the circumstances, I do not think I could ask for more. As for Paol, I don’t know if I fully believe he did it or not. They really do not have evidence that he is the culprit. I truly believe that if it was Paol it was because when I did not return when I said I would he thought I was not returning. The first day I saw him after my return the look on his face was nothing short of pure happiness and shock. While it does not make what he may have done okay, it at least makes it a bit more understandable. Even if I found out it was Paol I would not do much more about it than let him know how hurt I am. If Paol is held formally accountable for his actions he would probably go to prison or get kicked out of school. Paol needs school because without it there is a good chance he would find himself in a life revolving around poverty and stealing. It is wrong to steal, especially to break into someone’s house. I feel hurt, but I am not about to let the loss of my things potentially ruin someone’s life, even if it was their own fault. For those of your worried about my safety, I have never felt more safe. They have done construction blocking off the bathing room door from the outside and creating a new entry from my bedroom. Not only will this prevent anyone from being able to break in that way, I will not have to leave my house to bath anymore. It was always kind of scary to go out there at night when the teachers were away. It was also kind of awkward when I would forget clothes and I would have to come out in a towel scandalizing the village. I am happy!

I have found the best way to know my way around the village and the people is by carrying water for the little ones I come across while I am out walking. The set up of a village is hard to explain. My village is located off a road, but once you move away from the road there is nothing but small paths making their way through fields. The other day I was walking and saw some small children collecting water. I took their jerry cans. They promised me their home was close, but they were lying. Every house we passed I would say, “Wano (here)?” They would say, “Si wano (not here), kumpi (near)!” We walked up a large hill winding and twisting to a part of the village I have never been before. When we finally arrived they yelled, “Wano Auntie Nalubega!” At this point I realized it was the home of some of my students at Kiyumba. I continued on my way passing many more houses of my students. Each one was happy to see that I had made my way to their part of the village. I must say that is it nice to see where your students live. It is one thing that does not happen very often in the states.

My new favorite thing is Sodoku. I am somewhat obsessed and here is a story to prove how intense I am about it. The other day the construction workers were at my house so I had to stay in my house all day while they were working. I was sitting in my front room doing Sodoku. while they were tearing part of my bedroom room down. One worker comes in and looks at me and says, “Fufu is everywhere!” Meaning there is dust everywhere. At that point I look up from my Sodoku and notice everything around me is completely white. I stand up and there is a perfect print of where I had been sitting. I was so interested in solving my puzzle that I did not even noticed the fufu!

Saturday was my birthday and I want to thank you all for my birthday wishes! Originally I thought I wanted to spend my day at the pool, but once I was in Masaka I realized that the only place I really wanted to be was in my village with the kiddos. It started raining so I decided to head back to the village. Of course, in the village, it was beautiful sunny day! Overall it was a wonderful birthday! However, I will tell you a story I think is funny about my mom. My mom had called, but I was out collecting water so I had missed the call. I was exhausted and fell asleep around eight thirty. My phone rings at eleven thirty; it is my mom wishing me a happy birthday. At this point I have been asleep for three hours. She says, “You sound tired.” I say, “Yea, it is like midnight here I am sleeping.” She then goes on talking having a normal conversation. I am not really talking because I am asleep. She finally gets annoyed and says, “Well, I can tell you don’t want to talk so I’ll just let you go.” Bless her heart for wanting to talk to her daughter on her birthday, but it is midnight! I am sleeping! She says she wasn’t mad, but I don’t believe it. Actually, now that I am typing this I am realizing that perhaps I am lame. I was asleep by eight thirty on Saturday birthday.

The other day Frank was staring at me and he says, “You are a different color than when you left.” I said, yea I think I am much more white now. He says, “Yea, it is much better.”

Jen knows I help the kids carry water and today she was carrying fifty pounds worth on her head. She asks me if I will carry it for her. I declined, but say at least you are almost home. She says, “No, I am going to the duka (store). I am carrying this for Annett.” I ask if Annett is paying her and she says that she is! She was trying to get me to carrying the water and then collect money for the work I did! Sneaky, but smart I suppose.

Holiday is almost here and it is over two months long! I am hoping to do some HIV/AIDS information activities, but I mostly hope to work on the library. I just realized that in April my service will be almost half way over! My cousin’s wife Kristen has collected books from her church that she will soon be sending over and my little sister Schuyler has informed me that her school may be contributing as well. I am working on writing a grant so I can make sure the room is secure, freshly painted, and shelves are made. I am hoping that I will be able to get these things done over break and that we will have some books before the next term in February! If anyone is part of an organization, church, or school, that would like to be part of this library please let me know! We would love books or money that can be used to purchase local language books since they are taught in local language up until P4!

Today I woke up and started to boil water for my oatmeal and coffee only to realize that I am out of gas for my stove. So I move on to plan B which is boiling water on the charcoal as Ugandans do. While I use my charcoal often, I have never used it to strictly boil water. The entire process took me an hour and a half. Usually I can make my breakfast in five minutes. While I choose to do many things as an Ugandan, cooking oatmeal using charcoal is not going to be one of them.

Anyway, as always I miss each and every one of you! I hope you are all happy and well! Because my photos were stolen and because I want to see your beautiful faces, please send me photos of you, your animals, or whatever else so I can share them with my village and hang them on my walls!

I have decided to try taking up running again now that Ashley has given me an early Christmas present of an I-pod shuffle and Courtney gave me some new jams. Yesterday I was running on an open path through a tea field when out of no where one of my students comes up behind me; shoeless and talking away. Me, on the other hand was completely out of breath. When I stopped I asked her if she was tired and she laughed and said, “no.” They do this to me all time. Show me how bad of a runner I am.

Yesterday I was wearing a dress that Lisandro would consider frumpy, but what I would call long and flowy. I am talking with Boney, my fourteen year old student, and my dress is blowing in the wind and Boney looks at it and says, “Madam Nalubaga what a big dress you are wearing!” The previous day he says, “You have become fat while you were in America. What were you eating there?” He cracks me up.

Peace and Love,


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Greetings all! I hope this message finds you all happy and well! First off, I want to thank you all for taking the time to read my blog after a long break! I apologize, but as always, I have an excuse which I will explain later.

I am not quite sure where to begin. I feel like so many things have happened or maybe so many different emotions have ran through me the past month. As I mentioned in the previous e-mail, I was scheduled to return to the states for a couple of weeks for a wedding. It was great to spend time with my family and friends; I have missed them all so much. The first week I was home I got to spend time with many of my friends and my parents invited family over for a small party. It was wonderful to see all of your smiling faces again!

In general, I found America to be somehow stressful. I can’t even count the number of times I had witnessed conversations revolving around money and the lack there of. How many times I heard people talking about their jobs as if they had to have them and that they have to make more money. While I understand in some cases this may be true, I would say that in most cases people have to have more money and work the miserable jobs they do to support the kind of lifestyle they would like to have. To live in the house they want, to drive the car they want, to have the things they want. I watched people glued to the television and I must admit I did the same and not even because I like it, but because I was lazy. Too lazy to pick up a book, go for a walk, or talk. The worst part about the television experience was the popularity of shows portraying “mean girls” and shows where kids show no respect for themselves and others. I went out to eat with a friend where we ate cheese and bacon covered french fries for an appetizer only to follow it with a meal containing french fries as a side dish. No wonder most Americans are overweight. The idea of an obese child is horrendous. I can tell you that it would be a rare day that I would see an obese Ugandan child and it is not because they are starving. It is because after they finish their chores and then they run around playing all day. I would say that most American food tastes fake to me. After eating food with no trace of preservatives and fake flavors for nine months, American food does not even taste like food anymore. It is not to say that I will never return to America. I love many other things about America. I love that by being an American I am given many resources I would not otherwise have. I love that most schools prepare children with the needed skills to survive. I love America because that is where my family and friends are. However, when I return I will try my best to maintain some of what I have l learned about life here in Uganda. To not eat fake food, do not sit in front of the television, spend more time outside, spend more time talking with people, and do not live a life according to tradition. Do things how you choose to do them.

After being home for a week I started getting serious headaches. I started noticing them on Wednesday and by Friday I was in some serious trouble; no amount of Tylenol was helping. I had a temperature close to 104 and my head felt as thought it could explode. I ended up trading in the rehearsal dinner on Friday for a night in the emergency room. The doctors had assumed it was malaria, treated me, and released me. The next morning I felt worse than ever. I had lost my hearing, could not stand for more than a few minutes, and again the headache was unbearable. Luckily for me Ashley was in town and was kind enough to get me ready for the wedding. Throughout the day I was back and forth between being fine and nearly dead. If you were to look at the photos from the day you could see my ups and downs. Despite how horrible I felt, I was glad to be part of such a special day in Mandy and Bret’s life. The following day we were burying my grandmother who had past away a few days before. Again, I woke up feeling horrible and without hearing for five hours. At this point we realized that loss of hearing was a side effect of the medicine and was prescribed something different by the doctor. By Tuesday I was feeling just about perfect and my flight was scheduled to leave the following day, but Peace Corps requires that I am first cleared by a doctor. This event took three more weeks and a lot more frustration. Doctors here do not know much if anything about Malaria so they were very skeptical to deal with me. Instead I was referred to an infectious disease doctor who took a week to return my call and once he did he wanted more blood tests. So again, they tested me more Malaria. I could not tell you why, but the test took ten days. So again I waited and wait. I felt horrible because the kids in my village were expecting me on a certain date and I was afraid that they thought I was not coming back. It was also frustrating that I did not get a chance to say, “Goodbye” to Lisandro who had just finished his service and was returning to the states. Eventually the test came back negative and I was cleared on a Thursday. However, I could not get ahold of Peace Corps until Tuesday. All the paper work was faxed then and by Wednesday I was able to talk to someone about my return flight which ended up being scheduled for the following day. I was scrambling around trying to get things washed, packed, and a find a ride to the airport. My cousin Chrissy and mom offered to take me and boy was that a disaster. Of course we ended up lost, probably on my account, and without Brent’s help we probably would have never arrived. We were there about an hour before my flight, but luckily I was checked in quickly and security went surprisingly fast as well. I ended up at my gate ten minutes before my flight which I guess was not such a bad thing.

While at home, I got an e-mail from my now nearest volunteer telling me that my house had been broken into. Apparently the day I should have returned to Kiyumba someone had come and sawed the lock off of my bathroom door. Once they were in the bathing area they had managed to climb over the wall (because I do not have a ceiling) and enter the rest of my house. At the time no one was sure what was missing as a result of no one really knowing what I have and no one knowing what I had taken to the states. However, they were sure that my bike was gone and the comforter on my bed. Today I came home to a disaster and just about anything of value gone. My backpacking bag, tent, sleeping bag, Northface jacket, all gone. Other random things like one of my three pillows, my photo album (yes, the one you gave me Mandy), random clothes, an umbrella, my medical kit, my sheets, and any soap I had. However, things such as my gas stove and solar charger were left. While I had time to process and prepare myself for what I had assumed would be gone, I was surprised by how upset I found myself upon my arrival today. I had my beautiful children on my porch yelling “Auntie Nalubega” and I was doing all I could to try to not be upset about my possessions. However, I must say the kids were rather cute about the whole situation. They were upset that someone would do this and about ten of them were standing in my bathing area looking at the foot prints going up my wall acting like detectives arguing over how it happened. After having a conversation in Luganda with a group of seven year olds I found out that Paol was the one that stole my things. I was shocked. Paol is one of my favorites. Paol is always at my house asking me to help him with his English and him helping me with his Luganda. Paol gets upset when I leave for conferences and was devastated when he had to spend his holiday fishing and away from me. Paol is the head boy at the school. He gets upset if I do not let him help me carry water. He helped me make beads. He always came over before school to say, “Hello” and always came over after school to say, “goodbye." Before I came home for my visit Paol used his fishing money to buy a mat and his sister made one for my family. Apparently the police came and picked him up last week and my bike was found (the one things I could really care less about). From what I gathered people have been bringing some of my things to the school, but I am not sure what if anything. After all, my information is based on seven year olds and my knowledge of the Lugandan language. I am hoping that tomorrow I will find out more between the police, the school, and Peace Corps. While I have hope that most of my things will be returned, I feel that because they are just now finding out what all is missing, that some things may be long gone.

I know what you are thinking, that between Malaria, my grandmother dying, and my house being broken into I couldn’t have much worse luck and I would suppose that is true. However, I suppose it was worth it to be able to see my family and friends again. While it was great to be home, I am incredibly happy to be back in my Ugandan home. I missed the kids and my life in Uganda. I only have a short time here in Uganda and I want to spend as much time as possible here. I apologize if this message seems somehow negative, I am sure by next week I will have much happier things to say!

Peace and love,


p.s. It is 5:30 in the morning and I haven chosen not to proofread this; I apologize.