Uganda Phase 2
Still in Uganda…but a lot has changed! The saddest and hardest thing is that Lila is no longer with me to process and ponder and most especially appreciate the details of daily African life. Another big change was moving to the southeastern area of Uganda, close to the boarder of Kenya. I have moved from one small village to another!
Though I miss Atiak a lot, I am very happy in my new home of Buyobo. It is lush and green. It feels alive and vibrant in a whole new way. The hills and mountains are over flowing with fresh food: bananas, beans, coffee, maize, passion fruit, guava, mango, cassava, ground nuts…
In the conventional sense my housing has really improved. I now have the modern luxuries of electricity and indoor plumbing. I also have a table to eat dinner at and a couch to sit on during the day. I really appreciate not having to fight off the chickens when eating my meal. I love having a cup of tea on the couch in the afternoon. But, as it is often the case with development, it is not strictly good. I miss meals under the stars. I miss finishing a meal, putting my bowl down and sprawling out on a straw mat unabashedly. I miss outdoor barrel showers when you have timed it just right and the water is the perfect temperature. Overall though, life is very comfortable in my Buyobo new home!
I am no longer just a volunteer. I now have a “real job” (well my mom might have a different opinion than that). To clarify, I have a temporary contract with Women’s Microfinance Initiative (WMI) to work with local leadership to help strengthen loan hubs throughout East Africa. This was the same organization I volunteered with in the north; empowering rural women through small business loans and training. I am currently working on improving systems and creating protocols for opening new loan hubs and for expanding. They provide room and board and give me a small stipend. It has been exciting traveling to the different loan hubs and interviewing leaders and borrowers. I even made it to Kenya! The women I am working with are absolutely incredible… many of them work day jobs, run their small businesses, and give so much of their time to WMI. Their energy seems endless. They are so passionate about WMI and speak eloquently about the broad positive affects it has on the community. They are ever singing, joking, and working hard. I feel so fortunate to be a part of the joy and the sweat. I am going to be updating the WMI blog, so I will try not to overdo it with work news here. Feel free to check out the WMI blog: http://wmionline.wordpress.com/.
I have been volunteering again in two schools to help run the HIV/life skills program. Last week the term ended and the students made up songs about what they learned. Jerry can drums and gestures included! It was a lot of fun! Things to look forward to: I am learning to roast my own coffee tomorrow, the big circumcision celebration starts August 3rd, we are working on plans to visit the Masaii loan hub in Tanzania. Stay tuned!