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

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Pursuit Progresses

Do you remember my serious marriage proposal? I thought things were over but a few weeks after I thought it was over Tony (that's his name) came over to my house. He brought me a wall hanging painting he made for me titled: Work in a changing society. We had an awkward conversation where I tried to refuse but ended up taking it. Then he disappeared for a few weeks. When he surfaced again he brought me a vase he decoupage with my favorite colors. Again, an awkward conversation that resulted in me taking the gift.

I had a herb and few vegetables garden on the side of my house. However, I let it get overgrown and weedy and hadn't made the time to fix it. I was away for the last 2 weeks and upon my return I found the area hoed and beautiful flowers were planted. Tony planted a flower garden for me.

I asked my friends Jen and Annet what I was supposed to do. Jen told me to just appreciate and not worry about anything. I've made myself clear and now I cannot be held responsible for his actions. I never thought I'd be pursued so intently by a man in Uganda. My expectations are always changing in this country.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My little friend Maggie

My good friend Gertrude is the secretary of the school I live at. She has 4 wonderful children and I am close with their family. The youngest is 7 month old *(Lugandan name I forget) Margret Amanda. Maggie, as they call her, and I have been friends since birth where I visited her in the hospital.

Most babies and young children in Uganda are terrified of white people and usually scream bloody murder when you look at them. This may partly be due to the fact that their parents scare them by telling them we are ghosts with our white skin or by saying, "If you don't behave the mzungu (white person) is going to eat you." Because I have known Maggie since she was a day old and I see her on a daily basis, she has never been afraid of me. She is even at the point where she recognizes me and her gladdness shows on her face when I come near.

We are now on school break and Gertrude has not been around with Maggie. Last week she stopped by for the first time in several weeks and I was so excited to see Maggie. Maggie, on the other hand, was terrified of me and began to cry when I came near. I was heartbroken. This week Gertrude came by once again with Maggie and this time Maggie began kicking her legs, smiling, and holding her arms out for me to hold her. Gertrude says she had just woken up from a nap the time before and she was too groggy. Now, she knows and wants me once again. Life is good.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Auntie Nalu

In Buganda everyone has a name and that name is attached to a clan. My Kigandan name is Nalubega. I am part of the Ngabi (antelope) clan which means I can't eat antilope. You also cannot marry within your own clan. Ugandans love when you have a traditional name and when you know the history of your name. Knowing your clan, who the head of your clan is and the names of others in your clan is essential for connecting with other Bugandans or many Africans.

Several people in my community call me by my Kigandan name only. They don't even know my name is Amanda. The other morning I got in a taxi very early to go to a meeting in Kampala. Usually the taxi's fill up before they leave but this time the conductor got in and shut the door and we took off. I was the only one in the taxi besides the driver and the conductor. At first I got really nervous. We've been advised to never get in an empty taxi because it can lead to danger. I was about to ask to be let out when the conductor turned to me and said, "Aunti Nalu (short for Nalubega), wasuze otya?" Meaning: Aunti Nalu, good morning how are you? We then continued through the long morning greeting process and I knew I was safe. We continued to pick up other passengers along the way until we were full and then headed into the city.

There is safety when people know who you are. There is also safety is identifying with others using their native language. This driver and conductor loved that I could greet them. They knew me and were going to get me safely to my destination.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

World Malaria Day 2010

We marked World Malaria Day 2010 last week on Sunday the 25th of April. Leading up to the event we encountered many problems: corruption with the police, saving face (lying) of members within out own organization, and cancellation of organizations who were supposed to work with us. We were all a little nervous for the day as it looked like it was going to be a disaster.

Sunday came and we met at the hospital to begin our march. We'd announced this event for the past week over the public address systems (Voice of Gayaza, Voice of Kasangati), radio announcements announced in mosques and churches and talked it up all over the community. When we got there the only people there was our staff and 2 PCV friends of mine. Our march was small and pitiful. We tried to stay optimistic but when we arrived at the field we also found it empty of anyone besides our staff. Slowly people started to trickle in and we started.

We had speeches, prayers, national and tribal anthems sung, more speeches, a drama, an education seminar and many more speeches. By the end, we had around 400 people present and sold 690 treated mosquito nets. It was a big success. The Distric Health Office, a female Member of Parliment and a Bugandan princess all came to our event.

African time gets me every time. I honestly thought people would be there from the beginning but that's just not how it works here. Give them time and they'll come but never expect anyone on time.