Participant Blogs

Uganda - Patty

patty01As you may have read on Facebook I experienced my first taste of African time with a delayed flight in Ethiopia. The flight was delayed two times and when we eventually did head out we didn’t go straight to Entebbe. Instead they stopped at Kigali airport in Rwanda first and we sat their about an hour before finally heading on our way again. The whole process was a bit nerve wracking as I was worried about not finding my contact at the airport. When I did land I went had to fill out a form for my visa which thankfully was an easy process. Then I got stopped by a guy who asked if one on my bags was full of shoes. How did he know? Anyhow he took me aside where another guy asked if they were new. I said no that they were shoes and soccer balls to be donated which I guess was the right answer because they sent me on my way. Interestingly enough my flight delay was perfect timing as there was another volunteer flying in as well. He got there about thirty minutes after me and then we were off to Iganga with our volunteer coordinator.

Unfortunately I did not stay awake the whole ride as I was so tired! I did get to see Kampala as we drove through and out into the smaller towns. My first impression of Uganda was how it smells. The air smells of an interesting mix of motor oil, heat, and jungle. It’s hard to describe but it is enjoyable. Whether I am sitting outside at home or at the internet cafe in town I love inhaling deeply and trying to identify all the different scents that are comingled together. The other thing that struck me as we were traveling is how packed the roads where. You have taxi minivans full of people, boda boda motorcyles, bikes, cars and pedistrians all sharing the same roads. As you go town to town, village to village, the road is always full of people going about their business. Horns are constantly honking, people are constantly dodging each other, and lining the streets are little stores selling everything from phone charging to chickens. It seemed so overwhelming but little did I know that in a few days I would be amongst it all.

patty02After driving 5-6 hours we made it to Iganga which will be my home on the weekends. We dropped the other volunteer off and headed to my host families place. My host family is pretty amazing and the father is also the Eli coordinator and SOUP contact for Uganda. He does so much work for the community here. On sunday I was able to go to church with his wife and one of his daughters. I was bit nervous because they asked if there was anyone new in church so I had to get up and introduce myself.  This the start of learning that as the new person I would have to introduce myself over and over in the following days.

Most of the week has been getting to know the town of Iganga. How to get from my host families house into the main part of town. How to get from their place to the house the other volunteer is staying. We set up phone and internet service for me and I played with the local kids a lot. We played soccer, we did handstands, they joined me in doing my planks for my challenge group. We jumped rope, we played tag on and on it seems the kids never get enough of playing. I will have to get the videos I took on here soon because they love the camera! They love to see themselves in photos and videos. The first day the kids in the nearby houses were a little stand offish but it seems because my host families children are so accepting of me that they aren’t afraid to come play with me and their silence lasted only a few minutes.

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