Monday, June 22, 2015

Welcoming New Trainees

We  welcomed 46 new trainees to the Peace Corps Uganda family earlier this month as we said good bye to the cohort before us and marked our one year in country.  Ashley was lucky enough to spend the week training the new Community Agribusiness Volunteers and come early August some of them will get to experience a week in Karuguuza, learning what its like to be a volunteer in Uganda!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Family in Uganda

These past two weeks have been an amazing adventure as we had our first, and probably only, visitors in Uganda. 

Our four visitors, Ashley's Mom, her boyfriend, her best friend and Matt's oldest niece arrived to our beautiful home after a 30-hour journey. After a few hours of sleep, we headed, by public, to our home. We really wanted to give them a true Ugandan experience, how we live day-to-day and thought traveling by public means would be a great start. When we arrived to the taxi park, we could see they were a little overwhelmed. Lugging their suitcases behind them, we lead them through the chaos that we have come accustomed to, to our taxi stage. The driver was delighted to see us, six people plus an extra seat for bags meant we wouldn't have to sit in the park for long and within one hour we were headed west. We had braced them for the journey, about four hours, the first half on tarmac road and the last half down a bumpy dirt road. They were good sports and only complained when they hit their heads on the roof of the taxi when we hit large bumps, or smashed their faces in to the windows when the driver would try to dodge the large holes. 

Welcome to Uganda!

The first week at our home was an experience for sure. They lived with us and went to work with us: out to the fields, in the office counseling, visiting patients, teaching health education and reading books to the school children. They fetched water to bathe, learned how to cook on a sigiri and even learned some local phrases. At the end of the week, they were surprised with a traditional party in their honor with dancing, singing and a feast for all. The week gave them a good insight into how we live everyday. 

So often, it is difficult to explain things to people back home because they simply can't imagine what you are actually talking about. Now, when we mention we had to bathe inside our room because it was raining they know 1st- what it means to bathe; fetching water, boiling it and heading to the bathing stall and 2nd- what it means to bath inside our room (Theresa). They now know what its like to walk to the market and have everyone greet you and kids yelling for your attention, they know our local restaurant we visit on the weekends and the people we live and work with everyday. They even have their own Empakos, traditional pet names for the Runyoro/Rutoro Tribes. To be very honest, when they said they wanted to spend their first week with us versus going on an awesome adventure we were surprised and hoped it would live up to their expectations of a good trip. We love our little town, or as they call it "village", but having hosted no visitors before it was intimidating, and we only hoped they would love it as much as we do and not run towards a hotel with amenities they....we, are use to. Our fears were not met, thankfully, and they wished they could spend even more time in our little village.

Enjoying a local meal at our favorite restaurant in town

Grasshoppers anyone?
Learning how to prepare gnut sauce

Meal with the neighbors

Mom and Theresa reading to nursery children

Being greeted at their local celebration

The second part of the trip was seeing the sites as tourists. We traveled north to Murchison Falls National Park and went on safari. As luck would be, real luck, we were able to see all big 5 animals, an opportunity many do not get in one trip. Afterwards, we headed east to Jinja and enjoyed a few days on the river riding horses and going on a cruise. The end of the journey took us back to Entebbe as they spent their last day at Lake Victoria. 
They now know what it means to get stuck. One the way to Murchison.

The 1st game drive

Some of the Animals we met along the way


Walking to meet the Rhinos at the Rhino Sanctuary

It was a great two weeks and as we told 3 of our guests goodbye, we started a new journey with our niece as she spent the next two weeks back with us in the village. 

All of us at the top of the falls

Friday, June 5, 2015

Happy 1 Year in Uganda!

Uganda, it seems like just yesterday we found out you would be our home for the next 27 months. This past year has been one great adventure after another. From your beautiful green hillsides covered with matooke trees in the west that is now our home, to the dry, flat north, eastward following the source of the mighty Nile, down to the beautiful mountains of the south, you are one magnificent country. You have shared your love of pit latrines over western toilets; the village ones with squares so small a certificate in aim should be awarded first.  You have shown that allergies come in all shapes and sizes from mangoes to plants or all of you as a whole. Diarrhea is not a general term, oh no, you have taught us to know better than that. You have shown us showers are not a necessity, nor is being able to bath in your home or in a sheltered room for that matter. The variety of foods you offer is in bounty, but you have shown you only need loads of carbohydrates to survive. Your ways of cooking are simple yet require patience and much needed attention; a sagiri can be your friend or your worst enemy.  You have made us appreciate the value of water and how scarce it really is.  You have introduced us to amazing people; our neighbors, our co-worker, our friends. This past year has been amazing, and we look forward to this next year with you our friend. 

Love, Ashley & Matt