Uganda Week 6

It was midterm week at school, but grading 98 exams is easy when they have things like “BYE-BYE TEACHER MAY GOD BLESS YOU OK” written on them.  I like to bring a desk out into the schoolyard and do my work.  Whenever someone walks by while I’m working, they say “well done,” which I could really use when I’m at the library.

I finally started health education this week, and I’m really glad and relieved that it’s going very well.  We’ve been going to nearby schools and I teach about proper diet, sanitation, medication, etc.  I always have one of the teachers help translate because they know how their students learn best.  The kids love when I try to say things in Luganda, and then we usually play football after.  The coming week has a full schedule teaching at more schools and in other community groups.

I’m getting to do just about everything.  One day we go to the district police station to get justice for a village whose land is being taken, the water authorities to get a well that serves our village and school and some nearby villages fixed, and another rural burial, and the next day we have sodas with the sub-county chairman and he invites us to his house.

The other night I was in the trading center and I saw one of my students in one of the bars.  The drinking age in Uganda is 18, and he is 16, so I went in to talk to him.  It turns out that he’s from Tanzania but is living here with his aunt, who owns the building.  He manages the bar by himself in order to pay for school.  I was stunned, and still can’t fathom running a bar by myself to pay for high school.

On Sunday I had four people separately thank me for reinvigorating the school; Cornelius, the headmaster, the director of students, and one of the older students.  They told me that as I have reintroduced sports to the school I have given it a new life.  I brought volleyball back to the school, prompted the boys to play football again, and we’ve cleared a space to build a basketball court.  I was so honored to be told that I’ve made a positive impact and it brings me a lot of joy and pride.

The friendliness of the people is what’s made this place home.  Whenever I go by, it’s “come and talk / play / eat / drink / learn to drive a bodaboda!”  I walk home for lunch with the primary school kids fighting to hold my hand and we practice our counting.  I play football for hours where the out of bounds line is a barbed wire fence and the crowd noise is a pig being slaughtered.  I bodaboda to a nearby village with my friend so he can show me his juice distribution project to earn money to become an engineer, then he insists that he buy me a Coke.  I constantly have kids running up to me saying “bonga” (what they call the handshake I taught them) or “jisitula” (asking me to pick them up and throw them).  I lounge in the schoolyard with the students on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and sit in the trading center on a bustling Sunday night and play pool and talk with the villagers.  I simply love it here.

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