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

Thursday, June 18, 2009

All in a day's work

I dropped a new role of toilet paper down the latrine this morning. I never understood how it is possible for so many people to miss when they are using the latrine, leaving spoils around the hole and on the sides of the hole, and then perfectly aim their belongings down the hole. I am here to tell you, it is very easy. Toilet paper in Uganda is fairly available in many dukas (stores) though the quality is not so great. I try to buy a large stake of good toilet paper in Kampala. This was a brand new role and my last. This is my greatest disappointment of the day.
I teach a methods class at a teacher’s college in Kampala on Wednesday’s. Yesterday in the midst of my lecture on measurable objectives in lessons, four goats wandered into my open classroom. One very bold goat marched over to a student’s desk and began to eat the student’s paper. I had to just shake my head and laugh as some students grabbed the goats by their necks and dragged them out of the classroom. One of these goats was disgruntled with having been moved and stood outside the window bleating for several minutes after this incident.

After having grown up on the farm in MN, then living on the East Coast and working in the urban areas around Boson, I have experienced the juxtaposed position of socio-economic levels and grappled with the sometimes seemingly hopeless situations they provide. My time in Africa leads many of the same thoughts and struggles. Last week I went to 2 schools that met under mango trees. Both schools had a very small and dilapidated building that could not inhabit all the students so they were more comfortable meeting outside. In another school I visited I found that the majority of students did not have shoes. Many of the schools are not providing lunch for their students and if they are it is only a small cup of porridge or posho, a cooked maze blob. I found that even at the school I live at a little less than half the students do not receive lunch because their parents do not pay for it and the school doesn’t have the money to pay for all the students. A school I was at on Monday was in the midst of telling their students not to drink the water there because it was bad and they were almost out of water anyways, when I got there. They told students they needed to start bringing their own water. They know was well as I do, that students and their families do not have money to be purchasing water each day so these students will get bad water from home, if they bring any water at all, and the problem will perpetuate but the school will not have to take responsibility.

With that being said, I also visit schools that have secure locks on their gates, manicures lawns, weather-proof buildings, clean latrines, and even running water. They have clubs set up for students and provide field trips for optimal learning for their students. These schools are right next to the mango tree schools. Sometimes the need in Africa is so visible I know exactly what to do; sometimes the need is so immense I don’t know where to start; and sometimes, the need is hidden and again I don’t know what to do. So in the mean time, I visit and get to know people and let them take their sweet African time in telling me what they think they need.

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