I have been really lax about posting pictures! I’ll try to do better, but for now, here are some highlights of the past couple months...
*Peace Corps Volunteers threw a big costume party out in the eastern part of Uganda, at a place called Sipi Falls. Here is one of the falls, which we hiked to the base of! Brett, Hannah, Christina, Me:
The area has really beautiful hills: Here are the bandas where we stayed…we had one king-sized bed so Sarah, Hannah, Erin, and I all snuggled tight! There were tons of rainbows (if you look really close, you can see a double rainbow- to the right of the first one):
The costume party was a lot of fun! Several members of my group went as parts of the immune system (since we’re HIV/AIDS volunteers). I was CD-4, the “captain” of the immune system. Here I am with Hannah, who was an adorable Rainbow Brite:
But the overall costume winner was…none other than the Flintstones! Brad, Chris, Teresa, and Wes:Everyone had a really great time!
*Toward the end of October, my host parents (the ones I lived with back in training last year) had an introduction. An introduction is like a Ugandan wedding- it’s where the man and woman’s families are introduced to each other! It’s a big huge celebration held out in the village of the woman’s family. The two families (the man’s and the woman’s) sit facing each other, and the man's family has to pick which of the women is the right wife. It’s a big joke- the woman’s side brings out several groups of girls for the man’s side to choose from, and after that, the aunts of the woman's side have to look in the crowd to find the right man. I sat on my host dad’s side, so I only got a picture of the back of them, but here are my host parents, after my host dad’s family finally chose the right woman for him:
I attended the celebration along with two other Peace Corps Volunteers who have also been hosted by these host parents- it was really special for us to be a part of it!
*One of my former Ugandan coworkers had a baby boy! His name is Raphael- he’s about a week old here:
*My friends and I walked to Tanzania! Yes, you read that right. My friend Sarah lives on the road that goes to Tanzania, about 26 km from the border. So, we walked 26 km (16ish miles) to Tanzania.
First, we strapped ipod speakers onto my bag so that we could dance our way there: (This caused a lot of funny looks and laughs along the way, as I was emanating music but people didn’t know where it was coming from!)
We set off on our way, stopping for a picture at every single kilometer marker- and believe me, we were counting! Us with the first marker (26 km to go…):
It rained for the great majority of our walk, but that didn’t stop us! (The big hump on my back is my bag with the speakers, we didn’t want them to get wet!): Still going strong with 17 km to go:
At some point, the YMCA played on our speakers, so we did the YMCA through a village in the rain, much to the delight of the village. 11km to go: We’re getting close… (Mutukula is the border town).
Yeah! We made it!
Amanda, Erin, Me, Sarah, Hannah: It took us about 7.5 hours total- our feet were blistered and bleeding by the time we got there, but we were really proud of our accomplishment. Thankfully, there is public transport that goes back to Sarah’s house, so we caught a car back!
*Other fun things in November that I unfortunately don’t have too many pictures for are Dewali (Indian festival of lights celebration), and not one, but TWO delicious Thanksgivings! Here is one of the Thanksgivings though!
*At the very end of the month, my group (the volunteers I originally came with) had our “Mid-Service Training,” a workshop by Peace Corps that happens halfway through your service. On November 30th, we completed one year of service! For the conference, Peace Corps put us up in a really fancy hotel that is right on the Nile River! Sunrise over the Nile: It’s been a long long year of service, but we made it!
What’s gone on so far is a lot to do with work!
*As you may know, World AIDS Day is celebrated worldwide on December 1st of every year. For World AIDS Day this year, the hospital I work with had a big event out in one of the villages. (We celebrated it on Dec. 6th…nothing really happens on time in Uganda)
Here are women the day before, peeling matooke (unripe bananas) in preparation for the next day’s meal:There was a lot to be done- organizing food, getting firewood to cook it, setting up chairs… an old man looks on:
The celebration the next day was well attended:
SO well attended that people started sitting on the sides:
It included really cute kids dancing:
School children singing about HIV:
A performance by a HIV+ adult drama group:
Lots of drumming and dancing: And of course, lots of speeches!
We ended the day with the dedication of one of our new pig projects (we were awarded the grant I applied for!!!), but I’ll save that for a future post!
*The next week, Ron Tschetter (the director of all of Peace Corps) paid a visit to Uganda! I met him briefly as I was passing through the Peace Corps office on my way to help with a camp for HIV+ kids (also coming in a future post), and we got to take a quick picture:
Henry McKoy (PC Africa Regional Director), McGrath Jean Thomas (Uganda Country Director), Me, and Ron Tschetter (PC Director).
*I went to another introduction (this time for one of the doctors I work with), and when you sit on the man's side of the family, as I did, you have to bring in gifts from his family in baskets- carried on your head. The first time around I carried a basket of garlic, which wasn't so bad. The second time, I had a big basket full of yams. Yams in a basket on your head are HEAVY. But, I didn't trip or drop anything, impressing everyone including myself!
So, that's the news for now- more soon about the pig projects, the HIV+ kids' camp, and my upcoming New Year's celebration! Happy New Year!