Thursday, June 13, 2013

My First Full Day in Uganda

I awoke this morning to the sound of roosters crowing, turkeys gobbling, and owls hooting. I’m not kidding you. I thought I heard my familiar owls from back home. The people here tell me there are no owls. When I pointed out the sound I was referring to, they said it was some kind of bird. Whatever it was, I've been hearing it all day and it made me feel closer to home for which I was thankful.

I was told before I left for Uganda to expect that they were 100 years behind us. Now that I've seen for myself I'd say it may be more. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it isn’t what I’ve been seeing. The first thing you notice when you arrive in Uganda is the smell of charcoal. Many people cook with either it or wood because they can’t afford any other way. Even the HOPE center cooks for the children this way.

Many people don’t have running water and those that do cannot drink it. I was told to keep my mouth closed in the shower so I wouldn’t accidentally swallow any. I’ve been brushing my teeth with bottled water too. Some people have filtration systems, but from what I can determine, it looks like they use the filtered water sparingly and don't really drink it.

With no running water, you might guess there is no plumbing either. Toilets and showers are not common. Most places just use a hole in the ground like this one at the HOPE center.

I’m so thankful the room I’m staying in has a toilet and a shower. I just have to flip a switch 30 minutes prior to showering to be sure I have hot water. The woman I’m sharing the quarters with told me not to turn the bedroom light on while showering unless I’m wearing shoes because the wiring is not grounded and I could get electrocuted. Needless to say, I’m showering in the dark.

After two full days of travel, that shower felt fantastic! I suppose I’m a stupid Westerner for wanting to look the same here as I do at home. I plugged in my hair dryer and within 10 seconds blew a fuse. So, as I suspected, I’ve got wavy, crazy hair that I’ll probably have throughout my stay here. It’s a good thing I don’t have a mirror. On the upside, Angie tells me I’m two pounds lighter in Uganda because we're on the equator and have the least gravitational pull. Bonus.

I have to sleep with a mosquito net over my bed and was told to make sure the bed was covered by 4:PM so none would get in. What’s weird is I haven’t seen any mosquitoes. But I’m no fool. If they say I need to do it, I will. I haven’t forgotten a malaria pill yet either.

I have seen all Ugandans washing their clothes by hand and hanging them to dry. Imagine how much work that would be for an orphanage. This is what I saw when I left my room this morning.

Angie took me into town today and I am astounded at the poor conditions. The roads are dirt and deeply rutted. People live in one room shacks. Rubbish is everywhere. It’s hard for me to get pictures of this while we’re driving and when we’re stopped, people are staring at me and it seems rude to take pictures of them. Here’s a few dwellings outside of the center and some typical roadside stands.

What you're seeing in that last picture are dried grasshoppers. Apparently the dry them and minnows and put them into food for a protein source. Can you say c-r-unch?! Later we walked through the central market. Angie warned me it was scary and she wasn’t kidding. I wish I would have been brave enough to take some pictures while walking through there. You just wouldn’t believe it. Booth after booth after booth of people selling all the same stuff. The vendors lie on the ground or sit on a barrel and eye you carefully, especially if you're mzungu. One vender asked Angie a rude question and they had a little confrontation. In the market was the aunt of a child Angie adopted and since he was with us, we went to see her. She was so happy to see the boy and I was surprised when she gave him and one of Angie’s other kids some money. Angie said we probably made her day by stopping. “Now she can tell everybody all day that the mzungu came to visit her.”

There is so much more to tell, but this post is already too long. I'll save it for tomorrow. Thanks for your prayers, friends. It would be easy to be totally freaked out here. Your prayers are keeping me peaceful and calm.


Miriam Pauline said...

Wow! Thanks for the pictures. It helps to *see* where you are whilst I pray. So much to absorb. Praying for you as your process all the information as well as the senses and emotions. ((hugs))

Anonymous said...

Wow, I pray for your strength, you are a brave woman!

Love you