Monday, August 9, 2010

Cookin' Chipati

With a little bit over a week left to go for the majority of our members we have been so lucky as to receive a new member of our team!! Icarus fetus- the fourth boy to our current HELP International Family. He is adorable. He has black hair, takes many naps, and still walks around like he has sea legs. You see, he has only had his legs and the rest of his body for about a day now so in comparison to human standards he is doing pretty good. This small black baby was born to our trusty goat and lawnmower, Aberforth, on August 8, 2010. So from the HELP house I would like to say “You are welcome Icarus.”

For all of you who have previously stayed with us I have an exciting announcement: Trash man is cured!

Let me fill the rest of you readers in. We live on what is called Kayunga road which t-bones the main city road of Mukono. At this intersection there used to be a crazy man – or a mulalu. We named him trash man due to his impeccable style consisting of whatever trash he can find on the street. His hobbies: scaring as many mzungus as possible. A few members of our team have been surprised by a warm smack instead of a hello when walking across this road. Whether fortunate or unfortunate I did not have the opportunity to cross paths with this man before our fearless leader, Ryan, called the authorities to come and save us from our suffering. When they came and tied dear trash man down and took him away we thought it was surely goodbye.

In fact it was not. Trash man has since been released from the crazy ward, probably given some kind of decrazifying medication, and has since opened his own business. He has no recollection of ever hitting us or anyone else before, and has become a totally new man. Around the house we often go around singing a common Ugandan tune: “Trash man’s in the chitchen; cookin’ chipati; I like chipati; yum, yum, yum.” 

Besides a new goat and the return of the trash man we have been busy accomplishing many projects. One major project, the Volunteer’s Clubs, came to a finale of sorts last week as it was the last week of all secondary school’s terms. I have had the opportunity to work with the students in this club as I have been here throughout the summer and they have been wonderful. These clubs were originally started by Jessica Jarman and the rest of the HELP Volunteer’s as a way to make a school outreach more sustainable. This outreach was named “Do-It-Yourself” Festival. As a team we researched the needs of the Mukono Education District and organized this festival with the help of Mr. Lubega at the District Education office.

The nature of the festivals is that the primary school allots us 3 hours of their time where we have five centers that interactively teach the children about important life lessons. These are entitled life skills, life planning, environmental awareness, education is important, and health (HIV/AIDS or sanitation). The coolest part about the lessons in these festivals is that we have progressed this summer from teaching them ourselves as a team, then coaching and assisting the two different volunteer’s clubs as they teach them, and finally watching the volunteer’s clubs complete a festival without any of our assistance.

There are two different clubs that call themselves the Volunteer’s Club: One at Mukono Town Academy and the other at Mukono High School- both secondary schools in the Mukono District. These clubs were originally started as a way to continue and sustain the festivals that we had put together and has grown into something much bigger. Not only are these students enthusiastic about teaching the curriculum to these primary children, they are eager to expand and serve more people.

The Volunteer’s have brought up the possibility of reaching out to the elderly. They want to make a difference here in the Mukono community. They really believe in the power of service. At the beginning of the term they elected themselves a motto- “Through Love We Care” and have followed this motto. These volunteers are seriously studs. They have so much potential in their futures and I believe that their membership in this club will continue to teach them responsibility, creativity, and leadership when they regroup next term.

A few of the other projects we have been working on are AIDS/HIV assemblies at Primary and Secondary schools, preparing for a club foot outreach, helping a business partner start his Agricultural school, Evaluations, Business classes, installing a chicken coop, Food driers and Recycling. We are also busy with a project called Grow, Learn, Give: working with schools to sew menstrual pads in order to help keep the secondary girls in school. Lastly, a new project we are preparing for this week is putting in cement flooring in the teacher’s quarters at a low income school. The main purpose of this floor is to employ the children’s parents in exchange for their children’s school lunch.

So we’re working on keeping ourselves busy.  It feels good to be here in Africa with a team full of people who care about service. We are working hard and playing hard as we live under the African sun. The end is near and bitter-sweet. Excited to see everyone at home again, but sad to say goodbye to Africa the HELP volunteer’s are making the best of our time in left in Africa.

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