Thursday, May 21, 2009

we living in lugaziii

africa is the greatest place ever. everyone in uganda has the most genuine heart and kindest soul. they all look out for each other, they all look out for you, and they all are hopeful and optimistic for a brighter future. a few things i love about lugazi are first, the people. starting from the people we work with in the projects like agnes at the HIV center, wilson with youth out reach, kizza, with stove building, and pastor francis with teacher training. all of them are brilliant, generous, kind, patient, and understanding. the people in our everyday life, mary our cook, fiona the lady i buy pinapple from, nixon our rolex man, and everyone else who yells mzungu just makes the experience twenty times better. i love the atmosphere in lugazi. everyone is relaxed and accepting and looks out for one another. especially at church, they constantly compliment and uplift eachother. they seriously don't see the bad, they only focus on the good. africa has been an amazing learning experience, and it's only been two weeks. i am grateful for this experience to help me learn more about myself, how i work with others, and what i want in the future. our team's mission statement is "encourage ambition, inspire initiative and building strength and unity while on the road to self-discovery". i'll just detail out the last week and try to update more soon! love to you all, happiness and joy.

"week 2 has been amazing! we're all starting to feel more and more comfortable in the home, our village, and the rest of our surroundnigs. this week was a little rough because it seemed like everyone got sick! i had a little sinus infection, several volunteers had a 24 hour flu, and some other things. that affected the work we could do a little but we all did our best with working and accomplilshng what we needed to for the week! last weekend we took our first "trip" up to jinja to visit the tourist-y shops and eat some good american food. it was so refreshinhg to eat a burger and a chocolate milkshake and feel like a real tourist. we got to wear normal clothes and sunglasses and just relax. the ride to jinja was a little stressful. we stopped at the mbierea forest to check out some monkeys. sadly we didnt see any but we then decided it'd be a good idea to walk along the highway and try to get a taxi to take us to jinja. after twenty minutes of walkng along the side of the road we took a taxi to njembe(this insane market where people just surrund you and try to get you to buy stuff). we didn't want to stay in njembe too long because it was so insane so we found this worker's truck with nthing in the back seat and asked him if we could just ride in the back of that to jinja. basically, we rode in the back of a truck on the highway for 45 minutes. it definitely wasn't the safest decision but it's definitely something you can only do in africa! monday we had all been hit with sickness so about ten of us were home-ridden for the whole day. we did our best to keep ourselves entertained but the house gets pretty hot, and 15 sick volunteers definitely doesn't cool it down. tuesday we were able to meet with the key workers at the HIV center. they are all the most inspiring people. we're hoping to build an adobe stove, mushroom house, and implement a youth out reach program at their center. everyone in the group has the HIV virus and are looking for ways to prolong their life anmd live nutritiously.the rest of the day tuesday we spoke with the youth outreach group that is led by university students from kampala. this group is also members with HIV positive who try to better the community and improve the image of HIV. it's amazing how many people believe the myths here. people think you can get HIV by shaking an infected person's hand or getting a hair cut-our goal is to get rid of the myths and educate the truth. tuesday night we played great games at the house. our house really is amazing. in african standards-its a mansion. it's a great space for us to relax and get to know each other. it's been fun finding out why certain volunteers are here, how they found out about the group, and their goals for the summer. so far everyone gets along great and we all definitely laugh, a lot. wednesday was really the best day of the week. we finished an adobe stove in the morning at this school up on a hill. it was really frustrating at first because the clay was acting more like cement and the process was taking a lot longer than usual but eventually we got it done. then we got to take bodas( obviously obsessed with riding the motorcycles-its so much fun) out to the HIV center. we met with agnes and samuel and decided where we were going to build everything and when we culd start! im so excited that is working out because i think these people can really make a difference. this weekend we are going to jinja on friday night, staynig there, then going white water rafting on the nile!!! the rumor is there will be hot showers at the place we're staynig so let's just say-we're all pretty excited. projects are picking up and everyone's really figuring out what they want to do.
currently, i am the project lead over home visits from the hospital. the publich health chair, josephine, is the most organized woman and has a list of names and needs of people that we can visit twice a week until the end of june. this project would be an amazing opportunity to travel to remote locations in lugazi, get to know more people, and really make a difference ni the community. the only problem is, we don't have the fundnig. we cannot supply the necessary money needed for transporatino and the hospital has zero funding. if anynoe has any ideas for funding please let me know! it really is an amazing project. all we need is 400 dollars to make an amazing difference! hope everything is well in america! keep emailing!"

Sunday, May 10, 2009

just call me mzungu

i am in africa! i am currently sitting at an internet cafe in lugazi, uganda. oh my gosh i love everything about our town! it's abotu two hours south of entebbe so the drive here on friday night was very interesting. we all were crammed into these van taxis going dangerously fast down small little roads barely missing people and other cars. it definitely was an introduction to african driving! we've been doing so much since we've arrived i don't even know where to begin! our house is great-two stories and one of the few in the whole town. it's surrounded by a twelve foot wall with broken glass on top and we have a security guard at night so we're definitely safe. there's six of us in the room i'm in and we have great bunk beds with mosquito nets to keep us healthy and strong! there's 28 of us in total staying in the house so it's always loud. we don't have running water yet so we have two squatters outsdie (basically out houses that smell...great). we use a well with a pump to shower ( something i haven't tried yet) and then also have a huge bucket with a spicket where we collect rain water. it rains almost everyday for about 45 minutes to an hour and no one moves in the rain. ugandans think that you'll get "the fever" if you move in the rain so everyone just stays where they are, no matter what!
walking through the village yesterday morning was so amazing. all of the little kids ran along side us yelling "mzungu mzungu" ( which means white person or foreigner and we are called that all day every day). the scenery is gorgeous. vibrant green trees with rolling hills in the back ground. it's about a ten minute walk into the center of the town where there's markets, a bank, a supermarket, and a few internet cafes.
yesterday, we got some money, used the internet, and then bought some AMAZING pineapple from the market. it's only about 50 cents and they cut it into four and put it into a bag for you and its the juciest thing i've ever eaten. then for lunch we had Rolex, which are chiapatti(greasy tortilla) rolled up with eggs, tomato, avocado, and vegetables inside. Rolex are so good but so filling. after that we headed up to jinja in some more scary vans to the source of the nile! after some driving around and negotiation we found a hotel that would let us park there and a guy who offered to take us in his boat to an island on the nile right where the source is. it was so amazing to actually be on the nile and see such amazing scenery! we all thoroughly enjoyed the boat ride and it was fun to get to know the group more. then, after a while we made our way back to Lugazi to eat the dinner our cook prepared for us. we have a cook that makes us dinner every night which is so convenient because we don't really eat much during the day. she had made rice, noodles, cut pineapples, potatoes, refried beans, and sweet potato yams. it was an interesting combination of things but it was so delicious! after we went to african paradise, the local club, and partied ugandan style. we stayed about two hours and had so much fun just dancing and getting to know the locals!
today is sunday and half of us went to a branch in jinja while the other half went to one in mukono. i went to the mukono branch and instantly fell in love with the people. we're going to keep going to the same branch the whole time we're here so hopefully they'll give us callings and we can really get to know the branch! it was so nice because it was a friendly reminder of home and really showed how the church is the same no matter where you go.
so far i love everything about uganda! it's everything everyone said it would be and more. i'm so excited to start working on our projects this week and really get to do what we came here for. more updates will come later and posibly pictures! love to you all, happiness and joy.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

all is well in the city of dam

amsterdam is great! we're having so much fun walking around, seeing tulips, going to random music festivals, and being great navigators! more updates later! AFRICA ON FRIDAY!

Monday, May 4, 2009


we've arrived in amsterdam!! so far everything has been going so great! i met up with aly and liz in the airport, luckily found them pretty quickly! then we made our way slowly to our hotel, checked in, and began walking around! despite being a little jet-lagged and a little cold at times amsterdam has been quite the experience. we've walked around, visited some parks, looked at some museums, and even ran into the elders at Hard Rock Cafe! it was so cool because we were saying it'd be so amazing to run into the elders and then we ran into about 8 of them at hard rock! aly and i actually knew one of them from freshman year so that made it even better! so far we're loving amsterdam in our quaint hotel and we can't wait to sight see more! more updates and hopefully pictures soon!
love to you all, happiness and joy