A very serious qualification all Peace Corps Volunteers must possess, at least in Uganda, is that of being clumsy. It is required that you trip and fall and make a fool of yourself in front of your community numerous times a week. I am one who takes this qualification sincerely.
Last week I was walking through Kampala with two PCV friends. We were on an uneven sidewalk and I stepped onto a loose brink. This brink turned over under my foot and I proceeded to fall forward down a slight incline landing sharply on my wrist. Of course there were cars and Ugandan’s everywhere watching the already strange Mzungu not know how to walk and fall on her face. Amy and Lizzie helped me up and tried not to laugh. They then tried to console me with their own stories of falling and everyone witnessing the knock to our pride. We quickly walked away from this fateful scene and as we crossed the street I noticed my toe was split open and bleeding. Amy, as a true Medic and PCV, wiped out her stash of band-aids and fixed me up.
It wasn’t until getting home that I realized my wrist really hurt. Soon I couldn’t move it and pain was shooting up and down my arm from my wrist. I took a Homeopathy remedy and dear paramedic Amy came to the rescue once again and wrapped my wrist. As can only happen when you are walking and fall off the sidewalk, I sprain my wrist.
Upon getting home once again but this time with a thick white bandage wrapped around my hand/wrist, news spread fast. A few girls were hanging around my house and wanted to know what happened. They guessed I was in a boda (motorcycle) accident. I thought about correcting them but really my story isn’t quite as exciting so I just went with, “I was in an accident.” The girls had to run off for evening prayers and I went about my business. Evening prayers ended and instead of running to the kitchen for their dinner as they usually do, about 50 children ran over to my house to see my arm and offer their condolences.
My favorite was dinner with my nun friends that first night. I was tired of the attention this injury was bringing me and hid my arm under the table. That only works for so long before someone notices and brings all the attention to you. They were very concerned and upset for me. I kept saying, “It’s o.k.” to which they very firmly said, “No, it is not o.k. You are hurt. You will get better but you are not o.k. right now.” I love my nuns. The best part is when they tried to guess what happened. The very first guess was, “Did you fall and hurt yourself?” Right on my dear sisters. Oh, how they know me.