Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I'll find you a nice bush

Melissa holds Patrick carefully in her arms. Patrick was brought to the orphange about 2 weeks ago. As you can see his current condition isn't great. He is severly mal-nuturioused and in need of clothes that actually fit him. At 10 months of age, Patrick can hardly do things that a 10 month old should be able to do. The nuns are posititve that his health will be able to improve and he will be ok in a few months time.

Well I hope that everyone has enjoyed the Christmas holiday. I know that we as a team have enjoyed it very much. I mean, what could be better than sleeping in a tent?

We left Kampala at 9:00 am on Christmas eve and drove to Murchison Falls. It took us about 6 hours. After about 2.5 hours and still 1.5 hours until we stopped for lunch, most of the team needed a bathroom stop. Being the team leader, I spoke up and asked Violet if she would ask the drive to stop at the next petrol station so we could us the bath room. She asked, but he just chuckled. He then said, "we won't find a petrol station until we stop for lunch, but how about a nice bush". We just had to laugh and say ok. Sure enough he did find us a nice bush to use. It was away from all the people and off the road a bit. I guess we could have tried to make money, have the locals pay to watch the muzungu's try to squat with out getting themselves wet.

Once we were at the Falls it was wonderful. I can't think of a better way to spend the season. We were out in the open with God's creatures. We had a great encounter with the girafees and elephants...once, I download the photos from the safari I will have to tell you about the elephant. It was a great story, but one that needs photos.
I don't feel like there is much to blog about this time around. The first photo came on really quickly, but then I started to have problems. So I might have to call it quits. Until next time.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas

Right before James hoed his toe. You can see the tools we were using...but once again...don't worry...duct tape works wonders.
Mike holds a baby during a concert that we attended. Sorry it is dark..but you can kinda make out the fatness of the baby. I have never seen a baby so chubby as this little girl.
Melissa after coming out of the pit latrine. This was the first time anyone had to use it while on the trip. While we were at the school it became second nature...but this was while we were still in the capital.
This is why we are here! The clear water on the right is my personal bottled water. The water on the left the muddy looking one that Kasekende got from the pump that was installed before we got here. This is what the children are drinking! That is why we are here!
This is Martin. We went on a long walk around the schools gardens. We had to walk for many hours and little Martin got tired. So Dr. Grenney gave him a piggy back ride and he loved it. During the ride his pants started to slip and you could see his underwear. All the children started laughing that they could see his underwear. So cute.

Everyone on the team would like to wish our family and friends back home a warm and loving Merry Christmas. We wish we could be with our family at this time, but we are really enjoying the time we are spending here. We finished the work at the school and said our sad goodbyes. After working with the people day in and day out you really develop a lasting friendship with them. It is difficult to part. I can now see why Dr. Grenney has come back as often as he has.

As I mentioned last time we were able to move a lot of earth to give our school more playing fields. So really the last day we spent in the fields playing with the kids. it was fun to interact with them as we played volleyball and net ball. Let me tell you what, they said that netball was a lot like our American basketball...but they are wrong. It is so much harder! They don't have a backboard and to try and get a ball (that looks much like a volleyball) through a rim (which is small than a basketball rim) and do so without a backboard is so amazing. Now i don't think I have the best basketball skills in the world...but I can hold my own...but when it came to netball I think I only made it once. I was really bad at it.

Melissa made it an effort to have every little child love her. There were are few new kids from when we came in July that had never seen a muzungu before and it was her goal to make them like her. At first they would cry but by the end she got one to come into her arms. At one point in the trip Melissa was walking back to the staff room and was walking in the area of where Mark was. He got one look at here and took off crying. All you could see was a half naked African running away from the bewildered white girl.

Shannon is our expert plasterer. Big Jon taught her the flick method...well really he taught us all but she was the one who caught on the best (if you can count catching on meaning she had the least amount of mortor fall to the ground...and the least amount on her body). We have also learned first hand the mortor does burn when it touches the skin...but only slightly for the first few seconds.

James is the master shoveler. While we were working on the volleyball court we were amazed as the Africans would stand in the dirt with their bare feet and take the hoe and get to work. They would come so close to their feet that we were afraid that someone would lose a toe. James decided that he could do that too and got a little too close to his foot. Before he knew it he had taken the hoe to his toe. Now for his parents who are reading this please don't worry...he is fine. Nothing that a little bandaid and duct tape can't fix.

I became the mother of many. I went in with one little boy who called me the end of the trip I had many children calling me their mother. Not only did my little Kasekende with me all the time, but his sister Namayanja came along too. Even the nuns would address me as such. I know one time I was walking to the doctors office and one of the nuns was standing next to the classroom. She said something in Lugandian and then said "Kasekende's mother, how are you?". The director of the school even told me that he had the papers ready if I wanted to take the boy home with me.

Roger suprised us all by showing his true self on the volleyball court. He was not only aggressive (he got a little too close for comfort on the balls that went down the hill) but he also ran over a few of his team mates as he ran for the ball. We would never had guessed that that would come from our wondering friend.

Dr. Grenney once again has amazed the team by his on going attitude. While the rest of the team thought of no other projects...he is the master of all ideas. He came up with so much for us to do...we could hardly keep up. He continues to amaze us with the love he has for the people who have come to love and respect "their professor".

Mike, words can't describe what Mike has done for the children and teachers there. I know one little boy names Jonah asked him to bring his dog Bear next time he came to Uganda. Mike didn't think that would happen and so he gave Jonah the picture of Bear. You should see the joy the kids had while Mike would push them on the tire swing. I have never seen bigger smiles.

So to all our friends and family we wish you a happy Christmas. Even though we are away from you we are with you in spirit. All the love in the world. Finally we were able to get pictures put on. Hope you enjoy them.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Team with David Ssejinja at our meeting while we were in Kamapala. On the front row from L-R we have Mr. Kimbowa, Melissa, Violet, Solomy, Mrs. Kimbowa, Shannon, Lucia, Dr. Grenney, David Ssejinja. On the back row from Left to right we have Kevin, JAmes, Joseph, Alexis and Mike.
Ok, so that looks like all you are going to get. I know I said I would sit for hours...but you have no idea how boring and frustrating that is. Man how I miss the internet back in the states.
Things here are good. I am trying to think os something funny to say. All I can say is we have moved more dirt the past few days then I thought was ever possible. I was asked the other day why all the white people have different color hair. Is it because you are from different tribes? How do you describe DNA and genes to someone who doesn't know english very well? I was also asked if we paid a dowry. I told him no and he thought that was so weird. WHat does the man give your family for taking you away? We told him that we hadn't lived with our parents for years and they weren't use to us providing financially for them. He said if they didn't give a dowry they were theives and thrown in jail. So there you have it...all you guys you be in jail :)
Well I will try again later to put more pictures on. Keep on keeping on. Hope you have a great Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Whose laughing now

Ok, so I finally made it to the Internet Cafe and the connection is so much better than in Kampala. Of course, this would be the day that I don't have my USB drive with me to put pictures on here. So here is my promise to you, you keep reading and I PROMISE to put photos on here next time I come. Even if I have to sit here for hours, I will have pictures for you. Because, really...the point of a blog is to see pictures. No one wants to sit here and read...they want to see photos.

We finally made it to Masaka and have been working very hard. Most of the time we get to the school about 9 in the morning and make it home by about 8 pm. The internet closes at 9 so we don't usually have time. But we called it a day much earlier today. We have been working hard to get the projects up and running. Luckily we have much to do and so we are busy. We are all doing well and no one is sick. I was worried because it is an adjustment getting used to the food, but everyone seems to be making the transition very well.

A little background for you. We have to take four seperate roads to get to the school. Two of them are paved and two aren't. Since it is the rainy season, the roads that aren't paved tend to get really muddy. You might see where I am going with this. One night we were leaving the school and our 14 passanger van got stuck in the mud! We couldn't get out. We pushed and pushed and pushed. Then some locals came running and we still couldn't get out. The next thing that happend was really funny. Ok side in Africa there are four ways to get around walking, bicycles, motorcyles and vans. Now the vans are top notch and the bicycles are the end of the totem pole. Ok back to the here we are stuck in the mud with our top notch van and here comes a bicycle man walking past us. Our driver asks him for help and he starts laughing...and as he past he just said "look whose laughing now". It was all we could do to keep from laughing. So funny!

One more funny story and I better call it a day....a few of us went to town to check out the price and design of windows. One of those in our party stopped off at the Internet Cafe to talk about getting wireless installed at the school. After we were done with our errands we stopped by the Cafe but Roger was gone. So we drove to the hotel thinking he went back there. (again with the side in Uganda if you see a white person you call them just means white man...we get called it a lot). We we go to the hotel and one of the Africans who was with us walked with me into the hotel and asked the receptionist, "have you seen our Muzungu?". I died with laughter. That would never work in the US. You could never walk in somewhere and ask if they had seen our white man. But it works here.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. All is going well and God willing we will get everything done on time. time...PHOTOS!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Around the Capital

So for the past few days we have been in the capital of Kampala. Besides the smog and the noise, the capital isn't a bad place. We like our hotel and find the people that work there are very friendly. Melissa is getting her fair share of french toast and Dr. Grenney is drinking plenty of Stoney (his favorite soda). Most of our time here in the capital has been spent driving back and forth between appointments. We are happy to have all the meetings set up and find them very informational.

One meeting we had on Tuesday was great. We are currently working with an NGO based out of Orem called the Ssejinja Children's Foundation. We love the partnership we have with them and are excited to continue working with them. A few of our team members have met David Ssejinja (the President and Founder of the Foundation) prior to this trip, but this is the first time that he has been present while we have been in Africa. Because of that, we were able to gather together as our organization and theirs and talk about where we see this project going. We felt it necessary to get both organizations on the same table. We are excited for what we planned and look forward to meeting with them in the future.

We also were able to meet with a few Deans of the different colleges at Makerere University. Melissa and I are excited for the possible work we can do with them in the future. We also were able to meet with a few internet/phone companies to discuss the possibility of getting wireless internet to the school in Masaka.

Finally, we were able to tour the Mosque near our hotel. They were very kind to us and allowed us to walk around the grounds. Finally one gentleman called us over and allowed us to enter one of the prayer rooms (even though we were unwashed and unclean). It was very nice of him. We also found that he was the same one who we could hear that would call to prayer 5 times a day. It was interesting to see the difference between their religion and some of the others that I am familiar with.

We were also able to ride a boda-boda home from the Mosque. For those who don't know, a boda-boda is a motorcycle that they drive around as taxis. They are the fastest mode of transportation because they can swerve in and out of traffic where the other cars can't reach. Basically it is the drive and you sitting on the back of a motorcycle holding on for dear life. It was GREAT!

I promise, next entry will contain more pictures. We haven't had time to dump everyones pictures onto my computer. So for now you will just get to see a picture of the mosque. We leave for Masaka early until next time. Ok, so no picture this time. It took to long to load. I know for the next time to do it first.

Monday, December 10, 2007

We made it!

Sorry, no pictures today. I haven't had time to down load any yet. I just wanted to write really quick and let you know that we made it. Here are some things that I learned on our flight. l

1. Delta sucks! We didn't get any movies from SLC to had to "rent" them for $5. That is out of control. Needless to say, I didn't sleep and therefore was extremely bored. I think most of us on the flight were.

2. Don't eat the pasta. We all had chicken on the flight from JFK to Amsterdam...all of us except one (who shall remain anonymous to protect their identity) and that person got sick. Now we can't tell if they were sick prior to the flight or got something from the food...but considering they were the only one to eat the pasta...doesn't look good for pasta.

3. KML or was it KLM airlines are pretty was good, movies were good and they gave us ice cream. Of course, since I wasn't sleeping and everyone else was..i was the only one to partake of this goodness.

4. It doesn't matter how small the vehicle is...Africans can make everything work! We got 14-50 lbs suitcases, 7 personal carry ons, and 12 people in one 14 passenger van. i didnt'think we were going to make it...but we did.

5. No matter how long you have been traveling, when you want a hot shower...a cold one is a mighty big disappointment.

ok that is all for now. The internet is acting shady. So I don't want to lose what I have written. Until next time.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Watch out for the matooke

Ok, so in my family we love to eat. We all love to cook and therefore love to eat. The first thing my family wanted to know about when I first wrote home was the food we ate. So I am going to let all of you in on what we will be eating while we are down there.

First off, they love their matooke. Basically, matooke consists of hard bananas that have been peeled, boiled and mashed. Think of mashed potatoes only with bananas. As you can expect, it is kinda a thick and a little bland. However, it was only after I returned home that I realized why they all LOVE matooke. It is because they eat with their hands. So the thickness of the matooke helps them pick up the pieces of rice or beans that would be hard to grab with just your fingers. I thought of this last night as I used a piece of bread to soak up the rest of my soup. They use their matooke like I used my slice of bread.

So besides matooke what do we eat. Well like I mentioned earlier, we eat rice and beans. They also have Irish potatoes...we have our Idaho potatoes and they have their Irish potatoes. I can't describe the difference, but man they are so good. They make a fabulous bean sauce, basically all the bean sauce consists of are peanuts ground into a gravy. It goes great over the potatoes and rice.
As far as meat goes, we don't eat that much while we are there. We will have chicken occasionally, but it isn't the same type of chicken we are use to. Let's be honest, most things in Africa are skinny (because of malnutrition) and that goes for the animals too. So there just isn't much meat on those chicken legs. The chicken usually comes breaded and fried. We also have fish, and for someone who doesn't eat fish...I would have to say it wasn't all that bad. Because Lake Victoria makes up part of the southern boarder of Uganda they eat a lot of fish. Beef is a rare things, but goat is usually on the menus at any restaurant. I would be brave and try it once, after all, how many people can say they ate goat?

For breakfast we eat hard boiled eggs most of the time. Bread is very limited and tends to be dry, so if you are going to eat the bread make sure Dr. Grenney has bought the honey that he loves! Occasionally we will get an omlete and that is a nice change. Don't be suprised to see us eating french fries for breakfast as well.

All in all I was pleasantly surprised with the food. A few of the team members got sick last trip and we can only assume it was because of the food. But really, one day out of thirty isn't bad. But after a month of matooke we were ready for some good ol' American food.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A little about Uganda

Now I don't know about y'all, but until I started working on the Uganda project I didn't know where in Africa Uganda was located let alone anything about the country. So why don't we have a little lesson.

Uganda, twice the size of Pennsylvania, is in East Africa. It is bordered on the west by Congo, on the north by the Sudan, on the east by Kenya, and on the south by Tanzania and Rwanda. The country, which lies across the equator, is divided into three main areas—swampy lowlands, a fertile plateau with wooded hills, and a desert region. Lake Victoria forms part of the southern border.

Now while we are in Uganda we will focus our efforts in a few main areas. Hopefully I found a good enough map that you will be able to see them. We fly into Entebbe, which is located on the northwest shores of Lake Victoria. We are going to stay in the capital of Kampala for a few days as we meet with a few of our contacts and look for supplies. We will spend most of our time in Masaka (you will find Masaka located west of Lake Victoria).

We will also take some time to explore the areas around us. We need to visit a NGO up north near Murchinson Falls. While we are there, we will probably stop by Murchinson Falls and take a water tour and a safari. Murchinson Falls isn't located on the map but it is located right near the upper portion of the "G" in Uganda. In these photos you will see the Nile river. The Nile runs through Murchinson Falls and therefore makes the Fall itself.

Ok, I think that you've had enough of a history lesson. Stay tuned for more about Uganda. We might just tackle food.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Failed to mention

In my last post, I failed to mention one of our team members. She is a huge part of our group and I didn't mean to forget her. Without her we would be completely lost. Violet...please forgive me...I didn't mean to. Violet is a college student who currently lives in Uganda. We met Violet randomly on our first trip to Uganda back in December of 2005. She has been a team member ever since. She works hard for us while we are in the States, so that when we get to Africa we are ready to go. Not only does she keep things running on that end of the table (with travel arrangements, accommodation's, etc.) she acts as our translator while we are in country. She even travels to the areas we are working (leaving her boyfriend and family behind) in order to help us. Violet we couldn't do it without you. Thanks for all you do. We miss you and love you and can't wait to see you!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Meeting the team

Hello everyone, and welcome to our new blog. We are members of the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders at Utah State University. Now, just because we are members of EWB-USU doesn't mean that we are all engineering students. We are all studying a wide variety of subject and hope that all our knowledge will help those people we are going to work with.

EWB-USU has four student teams currently working on projects throughout the world. We have two teams focusing their efforts in Peru (one in Northern Peru and one in Southern Peru), a team working in Mexico and then our team in located in Uganda Africa. We are really excited about the work that EWB-USU is doing and hope that you enjoy learning more.

Please stay tuned as we update this blog on all of our efforts and work that will be done while we are in Africa. Please realize that internet is going to be a little spotty, but we will update the blog whenever we have a chance. So please feel free to comment on photos or whatever you would like.
Dr. Bill Grenney, Shannon Moore, James Dyer, Melissa Bambrough and Alexis Cooper.