Saturday, July 31, 2010

Our last week…

Monday 7/26/10
We were pretty tired to day, so we spent most of the time at home and only went out for Thai food. Jude went with us, and he and Meagan had never had sticky rick with mango before. It was a pretty big hit between the two of them, especially Jude, who is a particularly picky eater.

Tuesday 7/27/10
Trying to wrap up the research and provide some initial recommendations to the foundation. We are having trouble because we had such a great weekend. I can’t stop talking to Meagan and reliving the fun. We are also trying to buy a few things to take home to friends and family. Last year I bought all of my Christmas presents here and I plan to use that strategy again.

Wednesday 7/28/10
Again trying to build a report, people who went with us to Jinja keep dropping by so that we can exchange pictures. We had our friends Sonja, Richard, and Moses over for dinner and then we intended to go bowling. We didn’t have luck with the bowling. We left late, then couldn’t find it, and then it was closed. Bummer. As a consolation we did find another restaurant that we had previously asked about and were told that it wasn’t there. They had bagels, so we each bought one for the morning. Cinnamon Raisin I been missing you!

Thursday 7/29/10
One more day of report writing. Pretty boring. Our friends are wanting to go out a bunch because they know that we will be leaving soon. I think everyone is starting to feel the crunch, but I’m starting to get worn out with socializing. That evening we did manage to get another egg roll. We dissected it and took pictures so that everyone at home can get an idea of what we are talking about and why we were so surprised the first time. It has become a running joke amongst our friends about how we made such a scene the first time that we had an egg roll.

Friday 7/30/10
We had a long a day at the foundation today. We introduced Moses to Echiba and Reverend so that he might be able to become more involved with the Foundation in one capacity or another. We also went over our initial recommendations. I think they went over ok. There were a couple of things that they weren’t aware of and many thing that they already knew. We got some Indian food quickly in a restaurant that was air conditioned. Weird. We went back to the foundation and got prepared for our meeting with all of the mentors.
The meeting went really smoothly, and we handed them back the results from the pilot tests. They seemed to be pleased with the results of the project. We also said our good byes. It was very sad, especially since was the second time that I’ve said goodbye and now I’ve come to know so many of the people personally.
We took a taxi with Mary home because she was going to a wedding reception in our area. It was nice to spend a little time with our African mother before we left. Finally, we stayed home for a night. People kept dropping by to say hello and chat with us. Eventually we were able to watch some Seinfeld and go to sleep. I’ve started reading Sherlock Holmes and it is really good.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back from Jinja

We had a blast in Jinja for Meagan's birthday. I think the story is best told in pictures (follow the link like usual), and between Meagan and I we got some really amazing shots. We arrived on Friday night. Although it isn't that far from Kampala, it took us a while to get through the Friday afternoon traffic. The next morning, we went horseback riding at the Nile, then went to a set of falls call Bujagali Falls, We picnicked at the source of the Nile eating fresh Nile perch and fruits and veggies that we brought ourselves. Then we took a boat ride around on the river. We pretty much gave the Nile and Jinja a thorough work over. I was really pleased with the way everything turned out and I think that Meagan as well as everyone else enjoyed the birthday celebration.
On Sunday we stopped at another set of waterfalls that was not on the map, but one that only the local people knew about. It was a place where people who have traditional beliefs go to ask for blessings and relief from evils. We took a tour of the grounds and washed our feet in the stream. Hopefully we didn't pick up any bad juju along the way...but we made it back safely at least and are preparing for our last full week here in Kampala. It is an ominous feeling knowing that we will be leaving soon, and neither we nor our friends care to talk about it. It's hard to explain what it is that makes Uganda so enjoyable despite all of the strange and difficult things that we have to deal with. Meagan and I are already trying to think up ways that we can come back and spend some more time here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Trip to Jinja

Meagan and I are going to Jinja with some friends for Meagan's birthday. Source of the Nile here we come! Plus we have planned a horseback riding trip with just the girls. Can't wait! Look forward to more posts on Sunday.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


More pictures are up. Check em out!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A better update

Finally the internet is working more effectively and I can give a better update. Let me start upfront by saying that I'm not going to leave early. I understand that many of you are concerned about my safety, but both Meagan and I have decided that we are not in immediate danger. Although one American was killed and others were injured, the attacks were not directly specifically at foreigners but at the general public by a Somali terrorist group. We have been keeping in touch with the embassy and getting information from them. You also can get information from the embassy and the state department to see what they recommend. They each have a website and the information is readily available. Thanks for all of your concern and we are still exercising a level of caution as we being to go back to our daily routine and move about the city.
The atmosphere around here is getting back to normal. A lesson that seems to be difficult for me is that the world doesn't stop moving when people die, even if it is tragic. That doesn't mean that the event is insignificant, but life continues on all around. We don't know anyone who died directly, but our friends almost always knew someone. One lost an uncle and his car is stuck at the rugby club because the uncle borrowed the car. By now most of the dead have been buried.
We stayed at the compound for a day and a half, but have started to venture out keeping closer to home and for things that we need. The difficulty with not having internet is not being able to get decent information, and the newspaper and televised news is never that great. So ultimately we had to leave if we were going to get information. Plus our friends keep us updated and watch over us as always. In all honesty that is how we found out about what happened before it was ever on the news. As the game was ending one person got a text that there was an explosion, then another, then another, until everyone's phone around us was lighting up. We were out that evening watching the game at a small local bar not that far from the Rugby Club. After the game we went directly home, knowing that something was going on in the city, but felt safe in the compound. All night we could hear the sirens passing by as they took the dead and injured from the Rugby Club to Mulago Hospital. It wasn't until the next morning that we knew the explosions had been at the local rugby club and an Ethiopian restaurant in Kabalagala, a neighborhood south of downtown close to the American embassy.
So yes, it is sad and unsettling and atrocious that someone would do something like that, but out of principle I feel that it is important for me to stay and continue working. As Meagan and I have been talking about what happened and working through it in our own way, I think she made an excellent point in saying that because terrorist groups don't have the means to carry on an outright and upfront war with whomever they decide is their enemy, they resort to psychological warfare and preying on people's fear to get what they want. I refuse to allow anyone so cowardly as to attack innocent people enjoying the World Cup, which was intended to be a symbol of African unity and peacefulness to prey on and instill fear in me. That's how I feel about it, take it or leave it. See you all August 11th.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Just to let everyone know...

Meagan and I are aware of the attacks that happened in the city last night. I'm posting so that you know we are safe at home and were not effected by the attacks although I think it is safe to say that we are both a little rattled and uneasy about what is going on. We are struggling to get information about what happened since it occurred so late in the night and now it is still very early in the morning. I do know that one of the places, the rugby club is one that we have frequented. You may remember about Meagan and I running on a rugby field. That is the place where one of the bombs went off. So we are definitely blessed to have been somewhere else in the night watching the game. However, I hope you will keep those people who were effected in your prayers. I will keep everyone posted through the blog as soon as anything else happens.

World Cup Finals Tonight!

So I’m not sure when I updated last I think I have a whole week to cover…

There are a couple of things going on. We have been meeting with parents at schools where we intend to do case studies. We had meetings at three different schools this week, and that in itself was a lot of work, but surprisingly two of the three meetings went really well. Many of the parents are excited about the research we are doing, and also want to participate. We hired one of our friends to help us named Moses, which turned out to be a really smart move. He’s really good at what he does helping and translating. He understands our research with ease. He keeps time, and he loves children. You can tell that the children are equally excited about the research. Many of them are so smart and they continually impress me with their maturity of thought. I wonder sometimes if it isn’t because of the reality that most have to live in day in and day out. It forces you to grow up a bit faster.

We are still working on the IRB, baine of my existence, approval. Now we have the sister of Dr. Muhumuza, Beatrice helping us because she is a member of parliament. So it’s looking like its going to figurative take an act of parliament to push this thing through.

Of course we aren’t wasting any time. We are doing things that are helpful to the foundation. We got in all of our pilot tests and are working on getting them graded and entered into a data base. The results are actually quite exciting because they reflect some of the opinions that we developed based simply on our school observations. We call it triangulation, and it usually means that you are doing a good job.

Last Sunday we went to church with Mary, a supervisor at the foundation. She is the one that I described as Mary Poppins. We arrived at her house at nine. Then we arrived at church at ten and we were there for three hours. It seems that would be like a long time, but it actually was a lot of fun. I could get my sway and my clap on for the songs. I actually knew some of the songs as well. There were what seemed to me to be two sermons. One of them was entertaining because it was based on the world cup. We went home with her to have lunch and all of her children came to the house to have lunch with us. It was another hour and a half before lunch was ready, so again the photo albums came out and we had to look at endless pictures of almost the exact same thing.

When lunch was ready we ate as much as we possibly could, but it still wasn’t enough. I really thought I was going to be sick. By time we ate lunch, took pictures outside, ate some pineapple for dessert, it was coming to six in the evening. Can you believe? The whole day for just church and lunch. We were so full when we left that we walked a large portion of the way home so that we could sleep comfortably.

On Tuesday we were invited to dinner with Dr. Muhumuza’s mom, Rachel, and Andrew. Rachel has two children that were very cute, Hannah and a little boy called Tama, but that’s his nickname. I can’t remember his real name. He was super cute because he knew a few English words and would yell them out and then clap for himself. The meal was delicious and this time I seemed to be more successful at eating. She had stuffed a chicken with rice, peppers, onions, and tomatoes, that was fabulous. Again we didn’t eat enough to her liking. She also made a mini mat for the each of us in the style that they make traditional mats. It is on our table acting as a table runner right now. I told her that we were so grateful and that when we came back we would bring back something for her.

This weekend we have been doing the world cup thing. I have to say I’ll be glad when it’s over because I can’t get enough sleep between work and watching the games. But it’s unthinkable to miss the games, right? All in all we’re just trying to make the most of the time that we have left. It is amazing how fast the time has past. I really think that I would like to live here for an extended period of time, like a year or so. It seems like as soon as we have started to really get in the swing of things, we are having to leave. I think Meagan wishes that she could stay longer too. Part of it is that I love my job here so much. The people and children are so nice. All in all its just so enjoyable to be here despite all of the small difficulties that we have a long the way. Well, that’s enough sentiment for the moment. Will try my best to keep things updated in the remaining weeks.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Again, we have the pictures posted from last week in case you haven't notice. My birthday is included.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Weekend #6, which started on Wednesday

Wednesday 6/30

Today was really a great day. I already told about how I went swimming and laid out by the pool. I was excited that I had some semblance of a tan line.
Meagan and I went to get Thai food and the restaurant was so much fun. We were able to sit outside as the sun was setting. I enjoyed the peacefulness on the patio minus the sound of traffic and fumes. Because the restaurant was on a small road it gave a sense of detachment from the city that I thoroughly enjoyed. The service and the food was really good. I got them to make me the closest thing that I’ve had to cocktail since I’ve been here. They didn’t have any martini glasses, but mixed a martini with fresh passion fruit juice and rimmed the wine glass with sugar. I had the Pad Thai and ate it with chopsticks. I was pretty excited about the chopsticks.
When we left the restaurant we met up with a friend, but when I got there they had a surprise party waiting for me at the bar. I didn’t really realize what was going on until they brought out the cake and showed it to me. At first I was a little confused because the cake said “Happy Birthday Jinjer”, but was really happy when I realized it meant me. I actually enjoyed that the cake was misspelled. It encapsulates my experience and I felt like it was honestly how people think of me in African terms. Perhaps that is a bit of a romanticized way of looking at it, but I can’t help it. The person who bought me the cake, Jude, was upset that the bakers had misspelled the name especially since he had spelled it for them plainly. Cheers to Africa.
Everyone that we have met along the way came to the party. Many of them brought gifts, which was completely unnecessary. Among the things that I got was a carving of a gorilla, a Ugandan football team jersey with my name on it, music, a purse. Lots of great gifts. I’m still not sure how to thank everyone. I had gotten wind that people would be there to spend the birthday with me when I got there, but I was completely surprised at the elaborateness of the affair. It was truly a wonderful birthday.

Thursday 7/1
Meagan was nice enough to let me have one more day off, but unfortunately I couldn’t spend it lounging by the pool. The idea of it being July spurred me to start applying for jobs again, so that’s what I spent the majority of the day doing. I got three applications in, which is good. Hope things work out.

Friday 7/2
Today was my day to go out in the field. A dropped by the Foundation to see if the mentor had brought back any of the surveys that we sent out with them. We’ve gotten a few back, we took the time to grade the ones that we had. The results are pretty promising. At least we are getting a feel for what the children know and it is confirming some of our suspicions about the things that they don’t know.
I also stopped by the clinic to for a few errands. Dr. Grace, Dr. Muhumuza’s sister is also getting on board trying to help us with the IRB issue. I told her that we would welcome any and all help.
We shared the cake with Grace and Annette. I think they were really excited about it. I told them that I didn’t want to eat all of the cake myself and get fat, and they remarked that since they were women and not a girl like me, they would eat as much as they pleased. I had them laughing for some time.
That night we went to see a band called Afrigo. They are the oldest band in Uganda, and were playing during the Idi Amin era. That’s certainly something. They were an excellent band and had dancers who would do the traditional dances for the Buganda people (the local tribe in Kampala). They were amazing the way that they could move their hips. I can’t every figure out how women can move their hips, but not their shoulders when they dance. We also watched the Uraguay/Ghana game, which was a spectacular game even though everyone was upset that Ghana lost. They were the last African team left in the tournament. Oh well, life goes on.