I have barely been in America for a week but I feel like I have a toe in each world with the rest of me in some no-mans land. I'm trying to catch-up with friends and family here and also call and let my friends in Uganda know I arrived safely and see how they are doing. I find myself taking deep breathes before I pick up the phone because I know these conversations are going to be emotional for me.
One of the people I have called and talked to the most from my former life in Uganda, is Annet. When I left things were still up in the air for her and I continue to be concerned for her and Grace's future. While Annet was technically transferred she was still living at St. Theresa when I left because she had no where to go. Once a teacher is transferred they collect a letter from the District offices and report to the new school where the Head Teacher must accept them. The first school Annet was transferred to wanted a P7 Math teacher, a level and subject Annet is not qualified to teach. So this Head Teacher rejected her and sent her back to the District. The second school Annet was transferred to said they are over staffed and won't accept another teacher. This is the same story the third school gave her too. Weekly, Annet travels to the District office to get a new school and letter. She then goes to the school only to be repeatedly rejected. She is spending money on transportation that she doesn't have. And she feels her time is wasted.
Just before I left, Annet met a nice man at the District who told her the District would continue sending her around without making any of the Head Teachers accept her until she offered them a bribe. Of course, I was incensed at this and she calmly told me that's how it is in Uganda. When I left, she was trying to figure out how to get enough money to bride an official. A typical bribe in this situation is around 100,000 - 200,000 Ugandan Shillings (50 - 100 dollars!).
I talked to Annet on the phone the other day and she exclaimed with much gladness, that she has been accepted by a Head Teacher at a school not too far from Gayaza. When I asked her how, she told me she had gotten someone to pay the bribe for her. How does a system that claims to teach students truth and raise them to be moral Ugandan citizens function so heavily on corruption and deceit? It makes me sick.
I am very happy for Annet that she has a place to work now. When I talked to her she was busy packing up and getting ready to move. It's the end of the term already so there won't be much work for her yet but at least she has a place to go and a purpose to fulfill. It is nice to hear of my Ugandan friends continuing to succeed in their own, sometimes warped, ways.