Uganda Week 4

I’m sorry my titles aren’t very creative.

This week went by so fast. I can’t believe I’ve been here for over a month, and thankfully I’m still not even halfway done.

Tuesday was Martyrs’ Day, a public holiday. When Christianity first came to Uganda, the king had around 30 men killed for converting. Apparently, Christians from all over the world come to Uganda as pilgrims on this day. We started with a prayer service, and then spent the rest of the day playing many games. The first game was netball, which is similar to basketball but you can’t dribble or make contact and the goal is just a small ring on a pole. In my netball debut, I scored 7 goals to lead the boys to an 8-2 victory over the girls. One of my students and I also won the egg toss. However, my success ended there. I finished 3rd in the sprint because I did not know the Lugandan word they used to start the race, and had to catch up. I finished 4th, or dead last, in the eating contest. We had 1 minute to eat a hardboiled egg and 3 Ugandan pancakes. I finished well within the allotted minute, but my competitors were much faster than me. My pride is shattered, and my calls for a rematch are currently going unanswered. There were many other games, like football (where the boys had to play with their hands tied behind their backs), bike races, tire dancing (hula hooping), sack races, and laughing and serious competitions (whoever can laugh or keep a straight face the longest). It was an awesome day.

Cornelius and I pooled some money together and bought the students a new volleyball net, as they had to sell their old one. Now, every day, pretty much as soon as classes end, we play volleyball until dark. While I’m told I’m learning Luganda faster than most foreigners, there’s still a definite language barrier. I truly believe that sports is a universal language. Once it gets too dark to play, I head home. Before I left for Uganda, everyone I spoke to that had been here told me to eat as many rolex as I can. I’m following that advice. After working up an appetite playing volleyball, I almost always stop in the trading center to buy one. A rolex is fried eggs, chapati (like an African tortilla), and sometimes tomatoes, all rolled together, and costs less than 50 cents. While waiting for the rolex to be made, I’m surrounded by villagers wanting to speak to me in Luganda. I start my walk home as the last colors of the sunset are fading and the first stars are coming out. By the time I’m close to home, it’s usually completely dark. I greet everyone I pass, and even if I’ve never met them, they usually greet me back by name. In America, I’d be afraid of getting mugged. Here, I’m more concerned about tripping in the many holes in the road or stepping in cow manure.

I gave another test this week. One of my questions asked for a source of vitamin D, and a student answered “morning sunshine,” which I thought was great.

I did not know it was possible to dance for 6 straight hours. On Saturday, we had a handover party at school to celebrate the elections of the new school prefects. And by celebrate, I mean dancing from 12 until 6. I’d look around as I danced the day away with many of my best Ugandan friends and think that this is something I’ll never forget. They even told me that I’m a good dancer, and I believe them because they’re brutally honest about how bad I am at football.

Sunday was one of the busiest days I’ve had in a while. First, we went to Tanzania. We met some of Cornelius’s friends, had lunch, and walked around for a while. Then, we went back to Uganda and visited a U.N. refugee camp near the border. How ironic that an airstrip built by Idi Amin to wage war on Tanzania is now used to provide sanctuary for those fleeing Tanzania. I’ve seen many refugee camps in movies and on the news, but those look like hotels compared to this one. Row after row of little grass huts covered by UNICEF tarps, with entire families somehow fitting in each tiny shelter. It was rather surreal to see UNICEF in action after hearing the name for as long as I can remember. Cornelius is planning on returning to do some counseling, and I’ll join him, if only to play with all of the refugee children. Finally, we went back to see the ostriches. However, the window for riding has closed. The females have started laying eggs, so the males are too viciously protective to ride. It’s ok though, as standing next to a violent bird that is much taller than you takes away the desire to ride it. We rode some horses at sunset instead, and it was a solid end to a full day.

Today was another public holiday, so we did not have school. Heroes’ Day is a day of rest, so we had a quiet and relaxing day at school, which was a welcome change of pace.

Until next week!

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One thought on “Uganda Week 4

  1. I’m in awe of your adaptability and sense of purpose. Reading the documentation of this incredible experience has been eye opening about a country I knew so little about. Stay healthy:).

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