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

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Plaiting, Twisting, and being "Smart"

A year ago when I moved to site I made friends with and began working with girls at a near-by vocational and technical school. They learn trades such as tailoring, catering, nursery school teaching and hair dressing. For the last year the girls have been begging me to let them do my hair. I kept putting it off and finally told them they could do it at the end of this term. Well, the term is almost over and I now have a new hair style.

I told them they could do whatever they wanted but I wanted the twist style. Celeste also wanted her hair done so she came too. I went to a meeting in the morning and let Celeste and one of the girls go and buy the hair we needed. When I got there they'd bought me black and light brown curls! I was very leary but I'd promised so how could I back out now? The girls told me they knew I had curly hair and so I'd already know how to take care of it. Ha ha. Is real natural curly hair anything like fake hair extensions? But at least they had a logical rational for their choices.

Well, 4 hour later, after having 2, 3, even 4 girls pulling, twisting, and tying my hair it was complete. I prayed those painful hours would have produced a beautiful scene. However, my first look made my heart stop in dread. I looked like a two toned lion. I was shocked at how awful I thought I looked.

The girls did a good job but white scalped people are not meant to have braided hair - I'm convinced. After the initial dread (knowing this hair is good for 3-4 weeks!) the girls helped me experiment with different "styles" and I'm slowly getting used to this new look.

My neighbors and fellow teachers at St. Thereza were thrilled that I'd tried an African hairstyle. They tell me I look, "SO smart!"

Celeste had a tough time too! Her lovely hairdo took 8 hours! They said her hair was too slippery. She also got a different style called kiswahili which means it is plaited not twisted and the ends curl slightly. She fears she has a braided mullet when it is down so has fashionably learned to braid it back.

All in all, we're learning about the pain and sacrifice these African women put themselves through in the name of beauty.


  1. Words cannot express how much joy these pictures brought to my life...and my roommates lives as well! Next January Mom is next...

  2. HA! I loved the two toned lion quote. Though I remember those two colors were very hip among girls at UCU. You are quite smart.

    I also like your couch.

  3. hahahahaha love it!!!!!!

    (also, i think those green and white polka dot shorts are the ones i got you, yes? yahoo for that too).

    also, these girls are from kampala. i looove the shoes.


    and love you.

  4. That's great - way to be adventurous and try a new look. It looks really cute pulled back. Way to endure the pain!
    love you,

  5. So funny! Why did you ever take it out?? :P