Thursday, March 21, 2013

“30 Sites and 30 Nights”—March 21, 2013 (Day 2)


Name: Van Tran

Age: 27

Home Town: San Jose, California

What she did before Peace Corps: Volunteered at a Free Clinic

Program Sector: Education

Number of months spent in Uganda: 4

Host Organization: Wiggins Secondary School

Site location: Kumi Town, Kumi District

Language spoken at her site: Ateso

Some of Van's students taking an exam
Van is working with Wiggins Secondary School where she is teaching Biology and Chemistry. “They [staff members] are family centered where they care for each other and are religious since my school is supported by the church. “ Because Van is so new to her site, she has not had a chance to start any secondary projects yet, but she has high hopes. She wants to start a girls club and a science club. She also wants to start a computer class where she can teach the teachers at her school how to use the computers.

Van can get a variety of things at the supermarkets in Kumi, such as pastas, tea, spices, oatmeal, Pringles and soft drinks. She can also get fresh produce at the local market. Unfortunately she has not been able to get her stove working yet, so she hasn’t done much food shopping. As for water, Kumi Town pumps water from boreholes at night and distributes it in the morning to specific sites. Van’s school is one of the sites that receive this water delivery Monday to Friday. “The duka [small shop] that distributes the water on the compound is about a minute walk away from my house.” If she needs to get water on the weekend she has to go to the local borehole, which is about a 2 minute walk from the school gate.

Van’s favorite thing about her site is that she has privacy and she feels safe living on the school compound. Her favorite moments at site, so far, are attending the school assemblies because she feels that the students are more relaxed than when she sees them in class. She also identifies her biggest challenge at site to be that the staff members often ask her for money and favors and she can’t give them anything because it will set the wrong precedence and it will make it more difficult to do work in the future without providing money.

One of the most interesting things that Van has found out about her community is their views on marriage and how traditional they are. “The community still pays dowry during marriage and accept men having multiple wives.”

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This morning we got up and made muffins and had tea and after breakfast I went to Van's school, Wiggins Secondary School. She took me around and introduced me to all of the teachers and the other staff members. Her school is pretty large and we saw all of the different classroom blocks, which were all label (ex. “Senior 2 Classroom Block”). I also got to see all of the science labs and the computer lab (of course, my favorite). I even met the computer teacher.

After seeing Van's school, I went with Chelsea on one of her outreaches. She goes out into the field with her organization and they have a short health talk with pregnant women about prenatal care. After they talk to them as a group they give some of them ultrasounds, but only the women that are over 7 months pregnant. We drove out to one of the nearby villages to their health center for the outreach. They gave scans to over 30 women today and one of them was having twins. I don't think I've ever seen so many pregnant women in one place in my life.
Chelsea collecting data while Moses does the ultrasound


After the outreach we came back to Chelsea's house and had lunch. Then we went back to Wiggins S.S. because Chelsea wants to start teaching life skills there to one of the clubs and we were going to sit in on their club meeting. Unfortunately, the teacher who normally runs that club was not around, so we weren't able to see their meeting.

I never got the chance to see Van teach because her school is in the middle of mid-term exams. And sadly, Van has decided she wants to ET (Early Terminate). She wants to go back to America (who can blame her), although she hasn't told her school yet. She will probably be gone in the next few days.

Overall, I really like Kumi. It's a cute little town with a lot of really nice people. Tomorrow I'm going out to visit another volunteer in Ngora District just west of here and then tomorrow afternoon I'll make my way out to Soroti to stay there the night.


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