Just getting ready for the week and the mentor meeting on Friday. Got our approval from the UNCST. It feels like a dream. Also we should have the pictures up soon, so be on the look out. Cheers!
Rev was pushing to get home for some reason, so we squeezed two school visits in and headed home. The children and the school staff were very helpful. They gave us some more tests as a parting gift. The people at the hotel seemed sad that we were leaving. It was fun to meet people so quickly. The trip home was relatively uneventful except that I was worried that Rev was going to loose his bumper because it was coming loose. We also bought a ton of mangoes, more than we can possibly eat for 2,000 shillings (less than a dollar). I thought we were buying like five, but it was more like fifty.
Sunday we were free to roam around Gulu on our own. It was fun to do a lot of walking after spending so much time in the car. Not much going on in Gulu, however. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.
I got to meet two of the mentors in the area and interview them. They both went very well. Gulu is definitely different from the rest of the country. People just want to get on with their lives so badly and live peacefully and healthy. P.S. also met someone named Simba. I thought that was fun.
I woke up with the sun, around 6:45. The restaurant for breakfast was still locked. No such thing as a 6:00 am continental breakfast here. We went for a meeting with another organization that works with HIV positive people in Hoima. SAS is looking to partner with them as well. We got lost looking for the office, but we were only lost for roughly 45 minutes. That just doesn’t seem like a very long time to me anymore.
The meeting went well, and it seems like they might be interested in partnering with SAS in the future. We continued on our way to Gulu via Masindi eating mangoes like apples and stopping to take pictures of the baboons and the Nile River as we crossed over. Rev was a good sport to stop from time to time to let us be tourists.
We crossed the path of a rat, which is supposed to be bad luck. We had a good laugh about superstitions as I explained how people in America sometimes derive meaning out of what is probably a coincidental experience. I told him about the time Summer Brooke saw a hawk snatch a squirrel in Marion Square in Charleston, which she interpreted as an omen that Auburn would beat LSU in football that year (she predicted correctly).
Gulu itself feels sort of like a town out of an old Western movie. It is the last town before people cross the border into Sudan, and has been plagued by guerilla war for a while. It is just now safe enough for children to go back to school. The hotel was nice although it didn’t have power. Again, it isn’t something that bothers me anymore. They ran a generator at night at least. On the other hand we all had to share a double bed, which was rather trying. Poor Nicole, who is the tallest among us, had the biggest challenge.
We made it to Hoima without a hitch. Along the way we saw lots of Ankole cows, which I love. Their horns arc and sway so gracefully as they graze. We arrived at Meeting Point first which is an organization that SAS collaborates with in Hoima. Meeting Point is a networking organization for HIV positive people. SAS tries to employ HIV positive people as mentors to teach in the classroom in an effort to empower people living with HIV.
We went to observe two schools in Hoima. One was an Islamic school, which was interesting. One of the teachers told me that there is an Arabic word for AIDS. I didn’t know that. The Islamic religion in Uganda is something that I haven’t had much exposure to, and doesn’t often come up in the context of HIV spread, so it was nice to visit a school and talk with some of the teachers.
At Meeting Point we got a chance to talk with some of the mentors that were around. It was good to see some of the same ones from last summer. They’re really a great collection of people. When we got in the car to go check in the hotel, the car wouldn’t start. The lights had gotten left on after driving through the fog into Hoima. I was just thankful that we made it into town before we started having car troubles. At least we were able to get a jump easily and deal with it.
The hotel didn’t have water for the day/night that we stayed there, so we had to use jerry cans and wash basins to get clean. I’ve gotten really good at washing in a wash basin.