A Reflection of My Life after living in Uganda as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Becoming a "real" PCV

When I first arrived in country I heard you were not a true Peace Corps Volunteer until you had pooped your pants. My friends and I always said we didn’t want to be real PCV’s then and that is wouldn’t happen to us. Well, my friends, I am here to tell you I have become a real PCV.

I have had diarrhea off and on for the last week but nothing unmanageable. It happens when you live in a developing country. Yesterday, it all started very early in the morning when I had to go to the bathroom. I jumped out of my bug net and quickly walked to the latrines. This was at about 5 in the morning and my whole school was up doing their morning chores. Ugandan’s never go to the bathroom. I never see them use the latrine. I think this is because they don’t drink anything, or so it seems. Well, I have discovered that they do go to the bathroom at 5 am. I currently share latrines with 700 primary school children. Only 2 of the 8 latrines have doors on them and of course those were in use. By the time I got to the latrines I knew I could not wait and so was forced to squat in a latrine without a door and proceeded to have explosive diarrhea for the next few minutes in front of the whole school. In the states, I would imagine this scene would bring much laughter and embarrassment from onlookers. In Uganda, I received many looks and every child said, “sorry sorry,” or “bambi” which means I sympathize.

After that morning release, I was fine, or so I thought. It was yesterday afternoon as I was riding in a matatu (taxi) that I got the immediate urge to defecate. As I neared my destination I tried to think of where the closest bathroom/latrine was and could only think of them far down the road. I got off the matatu and walked the briskest walk Ugandan’s have ever seen on Kampala Road trying to make it to the nearest restroom. It was becoming apparent that I was not going to make it and so I started asking the shop keepers alongside the road where a latrine was. I was directed back through some alleys and seeing the restroom door ran in. Of course, there were no doors on the stalls here either and I quickly pulled my dress up to pull my pants down but it was too late. I exploded both in my underwear and the latrine. This was also the moment where I discovered I was in the male restroom when two male post office workers came in and found me covered in my own poop. Quite embarrassing. Uganda rarely has toilet paper available and so I was forced to attempt to clean myself using some notebook paper I had in my bag.

Through it all, I have become a “real” Peace Corps Volunteer.

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