Monday, July 13, 2015

Bukakaire - Settling Into our New Home

After a long orientation, we finally arrived at our new home for the summer! We quickly began to make it our own by hanging up mosquito nets, sweeping, and arranging our huge sack of groceries that we bought from the market earlier in the day. We enjoyed a hearty meal cooked by Betty, our new cook! It was only our first night here, but already it felt like home. However, a few short hours later, the bed bugs came… Anna and Johnny, upon discovering the bed bugs, quickly scurried out of their rooms and set up camp in the living room floor. Sleepover time! Johnny snored. LOUD.

The next morning, we met our VHTs (Village Health Team members). They are all very friendly and welcoming. Unfortunately, we had to we spend the weekend at UVP headquarters in Iganga town to escape the bedbugs. We returned Sunday evening, refreshed and ready to begin our work anew.

Every single morning we wake up to a very loud (and determined) rooster, plus Said singing “One yellow duck, swimming in the water…” and “I said a broom, sweep-ah broom…” as he sweeps the living room.

During the week, we had an introductory meeting with the community, along with various community leaders. We met with the head of the two local primary schools and the community chairman. While meeting with the schools, we made arrangements to hold WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) sensitizations at the schools. In addition, one of our VHTs took us on an orientation walk throughout the entire village. It ended up taking a few hours because we also personally introduced ourselves to every household (all 120 of them). During the introductory meeting with the community, we asked village members about the strengths and weaknesses of their community in order to gain a firsthand perspective of what work needs to be done in their opinion. Everyone is very welcoming and excited to be a part of our work this summer. We embarrassed ourselves numerous times while trying to practice our Lusoga greetings that we had just learned. Many people enjoyed laughing at us, but in a nice way (we hope). Although, it seems that by the end of the week, we have finally mastered those three phrases.

Outside of UVP work, we also started to tackle chores that include smoking the latrine, which Joseph managed to set on fire at one point in time, fetching water from the well, which often requires the help of village children 1/10th the size of us who carry jerry cans twice the size of themselves, and Said shimmying up tall trees with a machete to harvest papayas and wood.

Sometimes we also had dance parties with the children, including a little boy who enjoys riding his bike without pants. Also, the village is filled with copious amounts of pregnant goats, which we are all very excited about.  The baby goats are adorable.

After long, hot days of work, we cool off by taking bucket baths under the shade of banana trees and blue skies, watching the sunset, stargazing, having group sing-a-longs, surviving huge rain storms, and playing Bananagrams and card games in the light of kerosene lanterns.

All in all, it was a crazy, busy and productive week and we cannot wait to see what lies ahead for us in Bukakaire.

Jambo from Uganda!

Diane, Brittani, Said, Joseph, Anna, Johnny

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