Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ah, You are Lost...

As our Ugandan counterparts and friends like to say when they haven't heard from us in awhile.

Last time….

The plan was to have a feast on Easter with this lovely bird. As luck would have it for the bird, we ate lunch at Matt’s counterpart’s home with his family and had more than enough to fill us for the day. So the new plan was to have some yummy hot wings, something we haven’t had while being here. Well as luck would have it again for the bird, while Ashley was at a week-long training, Matt grew fond of the creature. 

Then this happened.

And this was built today...

And since Matt’s supervisor decided to keep his rooster for a little while longer, most likely because of Matt’s idea to start a poultry farm…we are hoping for some chicks soon.

So what else has been going on?

The week after Easter Ashley participated in a youth technical training part of an initiative of Peace Corps Uganda to encourage youth and adult partnerships. In a country where more than half the population is considered a youth, it’s a pretty good concept. Anyways, this training took place in Mbarra, if you look at a map Kibaale to Mbarra looks really close, maybe 5.5 to 6 hours (Google Maps estimates around that long). Ha! This is Uganda, there is no such thing as getting somewhere that fast. Ashley was expected to be there by 1pm for registration and orientation activities….key word “expected”.

Travel: The trip started with a 4:30 am pick-up from the only taxi that heads out towards the capital you can actually count on. By 4:45 the 2 youth that attended as part of Ashley’s team had been picked up from their homes and by 5 am we were on the road. 6:55 am arrived to the tarmac road and waited 1 ½ hours in the rain for connecting transport and stood up on bus for 20 minutes until seats were available. 11:30 am arrived in Fort Portal, met up with others traveling and got lunch. By 12:30ish we were waiting for our transport and headed back on the road again, got to see a elephant, some monkeys and buffalo while driving thru Queen Elizabeth National Park ,which the kids enjoyed a lot and arrived in Mbarra around 5:30 pm. The expected 1pm arrival time…not possible. 

The highlight of the trip was hearing the excitement in the kids’ voices as they pointed out the Rwenzori mountains, large tea plantations, lakes and the Kazinga Channel, all things they have learned about in school and from books but never seen in real life. 
It’s amazing to think of something like seeing a mountain or large body of water being a highlight of a trip until you stop to think, most of the kids we were travelling with had never left their village and if they had the furthest away had only been about a hour away to a nearby “large” town. 

We have also been helping to Stomp Out Malaria! in Uganda. During the month of April the focus is on creating more awareness about Malaria, which is the #1 killer of young children in Uganda. We have been doing a lot of projects towards this goal including setting up bed nets at the health center, teaching how to repair bed nets,  discussing malaria prevention to HIV patients, teaching the health education students while playing some fun Malaria themed games, going out into the community to discuss prevention and treatment and Matt even had a spot on a radio show to discuss the facts and myths about malaria and the importance of preventative measures and treatment. 

Some Malaria Activity Pictures

Matt Teaching Malaria Prevention and How to Repair Bed Bets to Health Ed Students 

Ashley playing Malaria Themed Freeze-Tag with Students. The thing taped on the shirt is a mosquito and there is doctor somewhere who un-freezes (treats) people who have been "stung" and now have malaria.

Monday, April 6, 2015


If we were back in the States we would be joining in on the festivities at White Sands with our friends and family. Boards, BBQ, kids racing to find eggs buried in the sand surrounded by familiar faces with the feeling of spring approaching by the fact we can pull out our shorts and tank tops. This year we were met with a 4 day weekend, either because it is predominately a Christian country or the fact that they love taking holidays, and we had a mini vacation. Our original plan was to travel to see our home stay parents in the neighboring district but due to some logistical issues of an upcoming training Ashley had to attend it was impossible. So, we bought a chicken, some eggs and soda and stayed home sharing some American traditions. 

Coloring eggs and going on a hunt has always been a favorite Easter tradition, so why not teach our kids next door. When you don’t have a Wal-Mart to go buy a $3 kit or food coloring what do you do? Pull out some markers and let the kids go crazy.

The Kids Enjoying Coloring

All Finished

Our Beautiful Eggs

Then it was time for a hunt. Not sure if they completely understood why or what they were doing but they seemed to have a blast. Instead of having a giant basket filled with goodies, marshmallow chicks, chocolate bunnies or stuffed animals they got they got to eat the eggs they colored and were very, very happy. 

In the afternoon we went to Matt’s counterparts for a great local Easter meal. Matooke (steamed plantans), rice, chicken, beef, macaroni, sauce, greens and irish potatoes. Yummy! After such a great meal we didn’t have much room for dinner so the chicken had its life spared….but not for long. 

Next time, on the Great and Grand Adventures on the Greens.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


....Your Hands!

These past few weeks we have been working on a WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Project at the health center and the nearby primary school. Everyday, way too many people in Uganda die from diarrhea related diseases due to poor sanitation and hygiene, with the vast majority being young children. The fact is, these deaths can be prevented by proper hygiene and sanitation. The topics for our Health Education classes this past term have focused on teaching students proper personal and compound/house hygiene and sanitation and it wouldn't be complete without discussing the importance of hand washing. Ashley applied for a small mini-grant and received funds to to construct permanent tippy taps, but before they were constructed we spent two weeks training on the importance of hand washing and building tippy taps with local materials. In total between the health center and school, a total of 422 people were trained on the importance of hand washing and learned how to build tippy taps.

It is always a joy to work with the kids, they are always so eager to learn and so eager to help out.

They told us they could mix the concrete, so we let them

So what is a Tippy Tap? We never knew before coming here...but it is a neat hand washing station and is simple to make from local materials. All you need is 2 sticks with a fork, 1 straight stick, a jerry can, string/rope, soap/ash with some sort of cover (we used half a water bottle), a smaller stick for a foot pedal and some water. Best of all they are very easy to make just ask the 9-14 year-old students that had no problem constructing them.

P4 Students Getting Down and Dirty Digging Holes

Deciding if the Holes are Deep Enough

A Finished Tippy Tap from Local Materials made by P4 Students

The following week we went back and installed the permanent tippy taps with metal poles. All the kids needed was a little supervision and by the end of the day they had finished all 5 wash stations.
Constructing Hand Washing Station for Nursery Classes with Matt's Guidance 

Baby Class Students Learning how to Wash their Hands with the New Stations

The health center constructed a total of 3 new hand washing stations including one for demo purposed to teach others in the community.
Keeping our Patients and their Families Healthy

What really made our we were walking to town one day we saw some of our students constructing their own wash station for their families. Then while visiting a health center co-worker home we noticed he had constructed one for his family as well.

Taking the Knowledge Home