Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas....Ugandan Style

Wishing a very Merry Christmas to all of our friends and family near and far. Today we had joy of celebrating our first Christmas in Uganda. We contemplated traveling for the holidays, but ultimately decided we wanted to spend time in our community experiencing the Christmas all of our neighbors enjoy. 

Everyday we walk into town the street is littered with cows, pigs and goats…..not anymore.

First let’s go back a few days. On the 23rd, we decided we wanted to eat pork for dinner and Matt went early to our favorite pork joint to make an order. Not knowing Matt had already went, Ashley went a few hours later and tried to make an order only to find the pork was over. Luckily Matt had made an order because we later found out that that specific day in our town is the day to eat pork, after that day it is hard to find. Well, as anything is here, it’s never certain and when Matt went to pick up the order they told him that it was over and that there was only fat so his order was not made…..thank goodness for the hotel in town. We ended up paying double the price, but in the end we got our pork.

Now only a few mothers and piglets remain in the streets.

Now the 24th we were told is the day for the beef. We normally do not eat a lot of beef but since everyone else was we decided to too. Matt left early in the morning to make sure he was able to place an order, from the events of the day before he was nervous we would be left without any meat. As he approached the market he could literally smell it, and inside he found our market that is usually filled with women selling vegetable and fruit filled with cows, and we mean lots and lots of cows. Everywhere you turned you had to be careful not to step on a hid or fat that had been cut off. The boda men, the men who give rides on motorcycles, were even selling beef. And we know all the sellers were happy at the end of the day because when we went back later in the evening to buy green peppers they were all gone, every last piece of beef was bought. 

Needless to say, there are literally only two cows left on the street today.

So a Ugandan Christmas? We decided to start the morning with our traditional gift giving, only Ugandan style gifts. Highlights- Matt got an awesome coffee cup, so he can stop using and staining the plastic cups. Ashley got 4 chocolate bars…..yes 4. Around 2 we headed to Matt’s counterparts house were we had been invited to celebrate. When we arrived, as in Ugandan fashion, they greeted us and gave us the best seat in the house. The food was ready, thankfully because we were really hungry since we had only ate our sweets from our awesome bag stocking Ashley made. When they brought out the dishes filled with food we assumed it would be for all of us since there was so much. No, those dishes were only for us, they brought in their plates stacked high; literally people here eat a mound of food. So much delicious food; it was a great meal and we enjoyed discussing American Christmas traditions and Ugandan Traditions and sharing stories. Peace Corps Goal #3. 

Afterwards they escorted us back to town. We tried to tell them they didn’t need to but they insisted; the entire walk is only around 20 minutes or so. As we walked through town we saw all of our new friends we have made over the past few months. Ateenyi at the duka that Ashley loves to practice her Runyoro with and buy eggs from, baby Mary who is always playing outside of the shops and is the most adorable little thing, Ateenyi the cobbler who always has a smile on his face, the family at one of the tailor shops that we gotten to know well, the boda men who all know us by name and always ask how we are doing and all the children along the road who go out of their way to say “Hello Matthew/Hello Ashley”; this is our home and today made that even more apparent. In the few months that we have been here, we have met so many amazing people that we are happy to call our neighbors and friends.

So what do you do on Christmas night? You party of course. After we parted with our hosts, one of our friends and neighbors picked us up in his friend’s car and gave us a ride home. Perfect timing, the walk may not be long, but the dirt is horrible.  He asked us if we planned on joining the celebrations in town…..of course we said yes. We headed out to one of the hotels around 7 and when we arrived we were greeted with blasting Ugandan music and lots of people. We spent the night talking, eating with a few drinks and playing pool. It was a great way to end a great day.

So, here we are, it is now officially the 26th. We have celebrated our first Christmas in Uganda, and as I, Ashley, write this at 12:42 in the morning I can hear the blasting Ugandan music and commotion of the people coming from town as if it is right outside my house (Update 1- music is still going and it seems they have cranked up the volume 3:20 am. Update 2- music is still going 5:30 am.....and yet 4:24pm on the 26th the music still has not stopped) 

Merry Christmas!

Oh and we did have a tree

With Matt's Counterpart & Family at their home

Some of our Christmas Meal

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

All I want for Christmas

Hey family, friends and maybe someone who happened to stumble upon this blog, check out this awesome video our Peace Corps Uganda June 2014 Cohort put together. 
Wishing you a Merry Christmas.
Hope you Enjoy!

*This video does not reflect the values or ideas of Peace Corps. We do not own the rights to this song*

Friday, December 19, 2014

When You Give A Mouse A Nut....

You Get Fleas?

Our neighbors decided to plant lots of ground nuts this past rainy season so they could have some extra income after the holidays. Their plan: plant a little later in the season, harvest, dry and store them and wait for the price to go up. Good plan, actually a very well thought out plan. The only issue, you have to find a place to dry them and what better place than the entire compound grounds. It really isn't an issue; they made sure to keep walk ways clear from the doors to our kitchens and bath area. 
The only real issue …. critters who love nuts. 

3 am one morning Ashley wakes up and hears a rustling noise, repeats again the next morning. Two days later Ashley wakes up with bites on her shoulders and arms. First thought….bed bugs, but we haven’t had them at our house before. Next morning there are more bites this time on the legs, there is something in the bed and of course as always Matt has no bites. We decide to go on a cleaning frenzy, all the cushions, the mattress and the rugs go to bake in the sun. The clothes and sheets are all put in basins out in the sun to soak. While we are taking things out of the room we notice some nuts in the corner of the room…. Yes there was a mouse. Then we move some clothes from the bottom shelf of our wardrobe and what did we find… a stockpile of nuts and a little nest made out of some socks. Confirmation we have a new roommate. 

So what happens when you put a treasure trove of nuts outside? You get mice. And what if your door has a nice size hole under it? You get mice living with you. And only what we assume, those mice bring critters and those critters bite Ashley. So what do you do? Finish cleaning every inch of the house and prevent the mouse from coming back. Mission accomplished and no more bites. 

Nuts on the compound grounds

Our attempt at keeping the mouse out

Sunday, December 14, 2014

World Aids Day Celebration 2014 was a Success!

Let’s first say, this event took a lot of work to put it together. In Uganda, there is a certain protocol for everything you do or want to do…. You must use a strict chain of command and involve everyone; literally everyone along the chain and outside is brought in. This can cause delays and frustrations, but in the end once everyone has come together and you see who actually wants to be involved and is willing support the project, you can finally get to work. Now, the concept of volunteering is a really foreign concept. For this event, we needed volunteers to provide health information, to test people and to entertain the guests. Well, there were a few minor/major hick-ups along the. Communicating “you will volunteer?”, for example. For us we would say “yes I can” or “no I can’t”. For them, they said “Yes” then they expected money…. ? Honestly, we had to reiterate that they were not getting paid over and over, just to have them still asking “so how much do we get paid?” Thankfully in the end, thanks to great staff at the health center the receiver was able to decode the message without any noise.....yeah.

This was the 1st ever World AIDS Day Event in our town. So, it was a pretty big deal to the people involved. We kicked off with a week of HIV/AIDS outreach.  Matt and his Counterparts did an awesome job providing HIV/AIDS awareness, demonstrating correct condom use, distributing lots of condoms and encouraging people to go get tested. Overall, around 300 people were reached.

The main event was held on Saturday, and we must say it was a huge success. We ended up having more than 500 participants, which was far more than we expected. During the event, we had volunteers giving out health information in a sort of health exhibition. There was information from malaria and prevention to family planning, hand washing to tippy tap construction, HIV prevention, nutrition and breastfeeding.We were lucky to find an amazing local drama group that entertained everyone all day with songs, local dances and skits. One scene even involved a witch doctor and a live goat on stage… the audience loved it. There was a well done debate on HIV and stigma and even an audience game show that Ashley hosted. We spent a few weeks working with a group of children from a local primary school and they performed a poem, skit, rhyme and song that went over really well with the audience with its theme of “parents please get tested!” Overall the goal of the day was to have people tested so they could know their status. 

Our goal was 200 and we are happy to say the goal was reached with a total of 228 people tested!

Overall the week was a great success!

This event taught us so many lessons in planning events while in Uganda, and although we had a few struggles here and there we are excited to have the opportunity to plan more in the future with our great partner organizations.

Outreach to the local boda men

Boda Man demonstrating correct condom usage

Outreach to Mothers at a local clinic

Come and Join Us!

Matt was a "celebrity" at the event and got tested to encourage others

Volunteer teaching hand washing

Malaria Game

Volunteer giving nutrition infomration

Drama group....yes that is a goat 

They really wanted us to dance

Matt and our co-planners

Some volunteers after the event

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ashley is YouTube Famous?

Do you want to know how to kill a chicken? 
Check out this video of Ashley teaching the group during our PST. We didn’t even know this video was on YouTube until recently and apparently it is a popular search since it has had over 4,000 views. Please note this does NOT involve a real chicken, just a cute paper one Ashley made....

This is something the 3 people who didn't like the video must of not have realized! 

Anyways Enjoy!

Friday, December 5, 2014

6 Month Update

We have officially been in country for 6 months! 
It honestly feels like way longer and way shorter at the same time; it really just depends on the day. Either way, time is going so fast but anyways… what has happened over the past 6 months?

-We are starting to get into the swing of our roles within our organization. Matt is working with his counterpart to promote HIV awareness and testing, promote hygiene and has started to work on a customer care project. Ashley is working with her counterparts to train farmers on financial literacy, forming and strengthen VSLA (Village Saving and Loans) groups and promoting nutrition.

-Matt has found that he loves matooke and will never pass it up if it is being served. Matooke= mashed and steamed plantains.

-Ashley has increased. So many people back home believed coming here would mean not eating as much and getting even skinner. Well that has not been the case, in fact Ashley is now 64.6 kilos, that is about 142.4 pounds. Compare that to the 131 she was when she arrived and that is nearly 12 pounds. At this rate we are looking at around another 42 pounds by the time we return home. Imagine.

-Most of the children in the village know our names. We have made a real effort in integrating into the community and getting to know the people around. When we walk down the streets we rarely hear “abajungu bye-eee” instead we hear “Hello Asholee/Machew”.

-For the first time in our lives we officially became millionaires….or rather shillionaires. Yes that’s right…. bank statements with 7 digit amounts…. Never thought we would see the day. (Conversion $1=roughly 2700 shillings at the current rate)

So....What have we learned??
The biggest thing.....Pineapples do not grow on trees....what?

6 months down, 21 months left to enjoy Uganda!

Randoms from the Past 6 Months 

Making a Chocolate Chip Cookie on a Sigiri

Awesome Flip Phone that Lights Up 

Ash painting nails with the kids next door

Our New Best Friends

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Out of the Loop

When you think of Peace Corps you think of living out in the bush, no water, electricity or contact with the outside world. We have been very fortunate to have things we did not expect. One of which being communication. Our town has amazing cell and internet coverage to be in the middle of nowhere and this has made staying in contact with friends and family back home very easy. It has come to the point where they expect to hear from us every so often, so when they don't......they being to worry.

This past weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving in Fort Portal and headed back home Sunday morning. We noticed as we moved closer to home that our network was going in and out more than normal. By the time we reached home, one line was completely down. Let's take a moment to explain phone service in Uganda. There are three main service providers: Orange, MTN and Airtel/Warid. Unlike what commonly happens with most providers in the U.S., you do not need to sign a contract. Instead, you simply go to one of the stores or authorized dealers, buy a sim card, register it and have service . Most phones are dual sim phones so you can have two different providers on one phone. Anyways, you buy airtime (they come on little strips of paper with scratch off codes) and you load it onto your phone or have an agent apply it directly to your line. Easy enough. Getting service in Uganda is very simple. Well back to Sunday, when we arrived home our Orange (which is our line for internet and international calls) was not working. This happens occasionally but usually will be up and working within a few hours. Well, come Tuesday it was still not working, so we decided to by a new MTN line for Internet since the line had been somewhat stable to make calls every so often. No joke, as soon as we bought the sim card, MTN went down as well. Wednesday afternoon our co-workers informed us Airtel/Warid was going in and out. 

So, here we are, no contact, this is what everyone expects Peace Corps to be like. No way to get a hold of anyone, and better yet the rains came through and made the roads almost impassable. Hope we don;t need to go anywhere in a hurry. Well, magically as Ashley was joking about being isolated from the rest of the world with her co-workers.....all the services have returned. So a few days with almost no contact, only little bits of calls going through, we have experienced life with no internet and calls. For those volunteers who have/or are spending their entire service this way, props to you. So what happens when people are use to hearing from you and all of a sudden don't?

They send out a search party.....a joke......
We survived, WE ARE OK MOMS! can call in the search parties now.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

It’s Thanksgiving…..

Really? It is hard to get into the feeling of today is a special day back home when we are sitting here in 80ish degree weather with the sun shining and birds chirping. Living near the equator is something to get use to. The only variations in weather come from the rains and today there are no rains to bring in a cooler temperature from the breeze. So what did we do for Thanksgiving this year? Well, it’s not the same as 2010 when we were in the Netherlands. That year Ashley spent the day at school taking an exam while Matt sat at home watching TV. That evening we went and ate all you can eat shrimp and mussles…..but hey at least the weather made it feel like the holidays. So this year? Today was a very special day for the children of top baby class at the primary school Ashley teaches at. Today was the celebration of the graduating nursery school students who are heading to P1 next term. So the day was spent with a parade through town, songs, rhymes, skits and ended with music & a feast. So while we were not able to spend the day with our family and friends in the U.S., were able to celebrate the day with our new friends and collogues.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our friends and family back home!

Getting Ready for the Parade 

Parade Time

Marching through town

Performing a Skit

Saturday, November 22, 2014

World Toilet Day

This past week our organization held a ceremony to celebrate 49 new Village Health Members. These new members are joining health teams in their communities to serve as dispensers of medical supplies. Village Health Teams are good in areas where access to health centers may be limited and these members help to provide basic health and prevention care to members of the community. Interestingly enough, the same day was also World Toilet Day and we were introduced to a new innovation for latrines.
 Our district has been piloting a huge defecation free campaign and the hope is that by the end of 2015 the district will be declared defecation free. For this to happen there will need to be latrines available to every person as well as sensitization; it’s a huge project….really huge but they are working hard. We have been invited to go along for the “counting of poo” but unfortunately we have not had time. So the innovation… basically it helps to reduce the odor which reduces the flies reducing disease as well as dispose of the “doo” in a sanitary way.  Even better, it is kid friendly. Can’t count how many times we have seen kids doing their business in the middle of a field or on the side of the road. We even had the joy of seeing one while we were eating at a restaurant during homestay. ….and it was not a short call (short call= #1 or pee pee). Well we are now trying out these new gadgets, when we came home Friday there were 2 being installed in our compound latrines. 
Let’s see how well these work!

On a side note….we are collaborating and hosting a 
World AIDS Day Event in the middle of December.
It will be the first in our town and we are excited!


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Shrimp of the Land

Living in a very small town, where electricity is scarce,  no light goes unnoticed in the late evening hours. For the past few weeks we have been noticing large beams of light off in the distance, looking almost like a nearby ball park during a game. Of course there is no such thing anywhere near our home. To make things even more odd, these lights continue to shine on brightly through the night, even when the power is off for the entire town. It just so happens, that these lights are usually powered by generators and are used to draw in swarms of grasshoppers which are apparently in season this month. Grasshoppers are like the Mc Rib of Uganda, they only come once in a while and have a swarm of addicted followers. This morning we found our neighbors had purchased a few large bags of these critters and spent all day preparing them for roasting. Each grasshopper has to have its wings and legs removed so to maximize the taste…. or so they don’t fly away….really we don’t know why but there has to be a reason. After they have been de-legged and winged the cooking begins. Add some salt and onion and tomatoes and green pepper if you want to and you have some yummy roasted treats. Of course we were offered some, “you are in Uganda, and we eat these”. With those words we couldn't say no. Matt was even given an entire plate and they are almost finished. So what do they taste like? Kind of like shrimp seasoned potato or the other way around…but you can’t deny their tastiness. 
Hello grasshopper season!

Right from the fields, fresh as can be

Time to start preparing

Taking off the legs and wings

Ashley even joined in 

Time to cook 'em


Saturday, November 8, 2014

IST & More Bad Roads

We are officially done with training until we reach our 1 year mark. This past week we had In-Service Training with our counterparts (people we work with closely within our organization). It was a nice week; we were able to see the other volunteers and catch up, although it honesty feels like we just saw them yesterday. We swore in at a very busy time; every month we have had another event to attend. It seems like just when we are settling in, we are off again. But those days are over…… until Thanksgiving, oh and don’t forget Christmas and New Year’s...After that they will be over until we have our 1 year training in August. The whole idea of the training is to touch base on our observation period and make a work plan for the next year. 

More about bad roads…. Yes, we know we have talked about the roads. Getting to IST was a challenge of sorts. It is rainy season, so it rains basically every day. Rain + dirt/clay bad roads = really bad roads. On the morning we were suppose to head out, the road out of our district towards the capital was not passable; vehicles had actually been stuck in the road since the night before. What to do? Take the other road out, only issue you need a personal car…done. Issue… half way down the road you discover this route is also bad and you are slipping and sliding. Worse? This route does not have any towns; if you get stuck you are in big trouble. Thankfully, we made it. Yeah. Now to go back home, road is passable, we take public transport. Better yet, we only had to wait 3 hours for the matatu to fill up. Seriously, no jokes, that is pretty good. The trip wasn't that bad either. Ashley was splattered with bird guts, the price of sitting in the front seat when a bird misjudges the speeding matatu, but hey, at least it didn't hit her.Once in our district we saw a few trucks overturned, most likely had been there since the previous weekend. Further down the road a big produce truck was stuck and we were nice enough to get over once he was free so he could pass; now we are stuck, really stuck. Time to get out and rock that matatu. Upside, we only got stuck twice and thanks to all the men in the vehicle we were able to get unstuck, Matt the “obujungu” was even out in the mud pushing. Sorry no pics for this one, the camera was packed in the back.
Happy to be back home!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

As One Leaves Another Comes….

Due to circumstances outside of Ashley’s control. Our Akapusi, Stacey, is no longer with us. It’s not what you think. Stacey was/is an adorable kitten and would have made a wonderful addition while in Uganda, but he wanted more. It all started when Matt left. Like clockwork he made sure Ashley was awake by 5:30 every morning as he cried to go outside, but of course he didn’t want to just be an outdoor kitty. By the afternoon he wanted to be inside snuggling and introducing his friends to Ashley’s skin. … Yes, Ashley was attacked by fleas and ticks, and of course her skin reacted severely, what else would it do? Being normal and just having little bite marks are just too much to ask for. Then one magical day the package finally came from Ashley’s mom filled with goodies including things for the kitty. Flea wash and collars, no more bites. But then it happened, he found an orange little kitty friend and the rest is history for the most part. Kitty meets friend, friend has lots of bugs, big bugs, and kitty gets more bugs, they bite mommy, mommy gets woken up before the sun, mommy decides kitty needs to be able to run free with kitty friends and live outside. To sum it all up, Stacey is living very comfortably on one of the nurse’s plantations nearby chasing rats and playing with kitty friends  while mommy is still recovering from bites even after seeing 2 doctors, receiving antibiotics and every ointment under the sun.... but kitty is happy. Some cats are just not meant to be indoor cats, Lesson Learned.

So, as Stacey left Matt came back! After 4 weeks in the States he is back in Uganda. Thankfully, everyone back home is doing better and Matt will now be able to focus on things here. The trip back was a lot better than going; it was like all forces were trying to keep him from reaching the States. A 36 hour trip turned into 54 with no change of clothes or money (what happens when Ashley doesn’t pack). Thankfully, coming back was just at 26 hours with no delays. 
Welcome Back Matt!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ugandan Events

These past few weeks I have had the opportunity to attend 
several events in my community. A Ugandan event is a lot like
 an American event but at the same time a lot different.
 First let’s start with the concept of time. When you say 10:00 am to an American they will most likely arrive a few minutes before 10 just to make sure they are there on time; you never want to be the last one to walk in…people will stare. When you say 10:00 am to a Ugandan, I am pretty sure they hear is “come sometime after 10, maybe 11 if you can make it by 12 it would be great”. What I have learned: do not go hungry or without something to keep you occupied because you will wait and wait.

Now let’s start with the actual event and what happens. It’s similar to the U.S. there is the opening where you have the anthems, opening remarks and prayers but then we move into speeches. The only thing, Ugandans absolutely love speeches. I’m pretty sure there is a rule that each speaker must speak for twice as long as the one before. Also, at the beginning of each speech you thank every single person that is important, even if everyone before you has already done it; it’s really a big deal. If you are the only obujungu “white person” then expect each of them to thank you for being there. They will call you out, have you stand up and you will more than likely be expected to make a speech; being shy of talking in front of large groups of people will be something you soon get over.

Then there is the entertainment. Ugandans are great at entertainment. Expect a DJ blaring old school songs. Maybe some Backstreet here and there mixed with Ugandan hits and country but you cannot forget country, they love it. Then there is the cultural dancing and singing. Pretty much everyone can dance, even the babies can shake their hips.

After all the speeches are over, which takes hours, and the entertainment is finished there is food and lots of it. And, no event goes without sodas, it is pretty much expected. There will be matooke (mashed and steamed plantains), Rice, cassava, sweet potatoes, some millet (still don’t know exactly what it is, think brown silly putty), posho (basically mashed humus), beans, beef, chicken, goat , soups and some greens. You don’t have to worry about taking too much because everyone else will have their plates stacked high. Also, do not count on silverware being available, most people in Uganda eat with their hands and you will too.

Afterwards the dancing will begin. That’s a typical Ugandan event. They are amazing experiences and I am happy I have had the opportunity to attend so many already.

 Next up, an introduction ceremony and wedding, I heard they are a blast!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

It’s My Birthday and I’ll....

…….eat all the Snickers if I want to!

My 21st and 25th birthdays will officially be remembered as ones spent in faraway foreign lands. The big 2-1, the rite of passage for the official adulthood in the States for drinking, and the big 2-5 the age to rent a car in most places or realizing you are now a 1/4 of a century old both celebrated in places where neither of those American concepts exist. My 21st birthday was in the Netherlands; imagine having to literally beg the person behind the counter to ask for your ID as you purchase your first bottle of vodka. Now imagine being in a country where most people do not even know when they were actually born, it is hard to fathom such a thing. Here is Uganda however, that’s the fact of life. You ask someone when their birthday is you may get a reply of “I don’t know”. 

How I spent my day of birth…..It has been just any another day in Uganda but there was a celebration, just not for me. The in-charge at the health center has been accepted to a program to further his studies as a doctor and we had a celebration for him. Motorcade, speeches…lots of speeches (even one by yours truly), yummy food, stung by wasp type insect (ya… it hurt), lots of dancing and now relaxing in bed eating a bunch of Snickers one of the nurses was nice enough to pick up while in another town. So that's the first of 2 birthdays in Uganda. 
Hello 25!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

My Name is Ashley Green and I Have a Problem

So my mother sent me an awesome care package and it arrived this past week. It was filled with so many good things and food that I really could not resist. The bad thing is, I am by myself and I have ate every single sweet thing that she sent in the matter of only two days. The only food items remaining are: the oatmeal and grits (although they are almost gone, I've been eating breakfast dinners), the packaged meats (since I have to heat them first and that takes energy) and Matt’s coffee (I don’t drink coffee). I think I have a problem, but will have better self-control next time. 
I Promise!

Awesome Care Package. Thanks Mom!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

World Food Day

Today is World Food Day and Ashley has officially started her first project. One need that has been identified is nutrition education. But beyond the education, which many people have, is the need for a basic knowledge of is the application in their daily life. Here is where Ashley’s first project starts, collaborating with her counterparts, they trained farmers on nutrition and a community garden project. We chose the week leading up to World Food Day, its focus “feeding the world, caring for the earth”.

Project Overview:
The main goal was to reach rural small-scale farmers in the communities by providing them  with information and knowledge on nutrition as well as demonstrating and providing initial seedlings for kitchen gardens for household consumption. The hope is that these training sessions will help disseminate knowledge about nutrition as well as help provide a well balanced diet to families where foods high in vitamins are not readily available or being utilized.

We started by identifying farmers groups already receiving training. These groups were chosen due to their high involvement with previous training and their willingness to adapt and utilize new skills and knowledge. Ultimately, we decided on three groups for this planting season.

Long term we hope to be able to expand nutrition outreach to farmers to include all active farmers groups in the communities  as well as pregnant mothers and mothers to those less than five years old receiving care at the health center and those receiving counseling for HIV and Aids as well as primary school children in the communities.

To be sustainable we are training the farmers on value addition and income generating activities from excess crops in their gardens, they will be able to purchase new seeds for continual years.

Outcome of Project: 
We successfully trained all three groups on nutrition and all nursery beds are complete with seedlings planted. In total, this project reached 51 households with an average of 7 people per household, a total of approximately 357 people will benefit from this project, with more than half being under the age of 15.

We plan to conduct follow-up training sessions, the first focusing more in depth on nutrition and how to prepare meals using the new crops and another focusing on the sustainability of the project.

The nursery bed for the family gardens in one of the communities. 

Preparing beds for seeds.

After making wells we spread the seeds.

After seeds are spread, you then cover the wells.

They spread ash to deter insects.

Spreading straw to cover the fresh nursery beds.

Watering the new beds.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

50 Years in Uganda

This past week Peace Corps celebrated its 50th Anniversary in Uganda. There were three functions held throughout the country in different regions leading up to the main event in capital. Since we are in the West, we were invited to the Southwest to celebrate in the town of Kisoro. Kisoro, is really south and is within a short car ride to Rwanda and borders the Congo. So the ride to get there was long and took 2 days each way. 

Since Matt isn't here, Ashley decided to go and visit other volunteers for the weekend before heading down south.

First stop for the weekend, Fort Portal.  Time traveled 3 hours by car and bus. Fort Portal is an amazingly modern touristy city; there are paved roads with parking, muzungu (white people restaurants) and a lot of nearby natural sites to visit. Since it is so close, we will be going back again and possibly often.

At one of the Crater Lakes outside of Fort Portal.

View of the villages outside of Fort Portal; you can see the Rwenzori Mountains in the back.

After spending the weekend in Fort Portal , a group of about  10 of us headed to Kisoro. Time traveled 10 or so hours in a van. The positive side, we rode with another volunteer’s organization and they stopped at the equator for us to take pictures and even slowed and stopped when we drove through the outskirts of Queen Elizabeth for us to take pictures.

At the Eqautor

We saw elephants driving through Queen Elizabeth

Passed a channel on the way and saw locals out on boats

Baboons Everywhere

Beautiful view through Queen Elizabeth

Finally we made it to Kisoro. It’s a little colder than I expected, it actually felt a little like fall maybe even the start of winter. The town itself is absolutely beautiful, probably one of the most beautiful places in the country. To get into town you take a road into the mountains that twists and turns and once at the top you go down into a little valley. There are volcanoes (dormant and inactive) surrounding the entire area with three large ones towering in the distance. Some of the volunteers even went on a day hike up one, it took about 8-10 hours; this will be done when Matt returns, no need to do it twice…right?  We spent the week attending the celebration with even an appearance by the U.S. Ambassador, doing some hiking (up a smaller hill), trip to the lake with a bbq, eating some good muzungu food, catching up with other volunteers and even had the chance to attend a parade for Uganda's Independence Day. Overall, amazing trip and when Matt gets back we will be going, thinking maybe for Christmas.

One of the Volcanoes.

Cultural dancing and singing at the 50th Event.

View of the Volcanoes from hike.

View of lake we had a bbq at from hike.

Ugandan Independence Day Parade; this is a just the band, there were probably 500 people in the actual parade.

Almost forgot about the trip back home. Coming back we took a different route that let me out in a town approximately a hour to an hour and a half from home. Being dropped of in the middle of no where, I was instantly bombarded by boda men (motorcycle transport guys who really want to give you a ride). Luckily, a lady who got off with me showed me the way to the taxi park. The downside when I arrived at the taxi taxis were going to my town, figures. My only options: take a taxi car or a motorcycle, only real option taxi car. It only took a second to find the one car headed towards my town. I should know by now when they say "we will leave soon" it really means "we will not leave for a good amount of time, just relax and get comfortable". That's what I did, I got in the passenger seat sat down and waited. Luckily there was a young boy already in the backseat with his older brother that kept me company. Remember, there are 4 passenger seats in a car usually and the driver kept saying we only need two more and we will leave. Well two people came and we still weren't leaving. Finally another, there were five of us and we started to leave, but I should have known it was too good to be true. Apparently, someone needed to be picked up from their house. Ok, so I'm sitting in the front with no one else, thankfully, and in the back the boy his brother and four women. Good we can go, but of course we stopped yet again for two more. Now, there is a larger woman in my seat, I'm now sitting on the shifter and another woman is sharing the seat with the driver....can we go now? Yes, we were finally on our way, but wait, what's that? A woman with a baby on a boda (motorcycle); she wants in the taxi. So there you have it folks, 3 in the front plus the driver, five women, one man, one boy and baby in the back down a dirt road filled with boulders and large holes. And I'm not allowed on motorcycles?