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!