Friday, March 22, 2013

“30 Sites and 30 Nights”—March 22, 2013 (Day 3)


Name: Andrew Boston

Age: 31

Home Town: Baltimore

What he did before Peace Corps: Project Manger for JP/HRO in Port au Prince, Haiti

Program Sector: Community Economic Development

Number of months spent in Uganda: 10

Host Organization: Aisa FM Radio

Site location: Ngora District

Language spoken at his site: Ateso

Andrew works for a new community radio station sponsored by the UN for post conflict areas of Uganda. He is helping them with developing technical skills, as well the general operations of the radio. He hosts programs weekly on the radio covering topics such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and gender equality. The average audience for his daytime show is 10,000 and his evening show is even higher than that. He also teaches ICT (computers) at the local PTC (Primary Teachers College).

In addition to working on his primary projects he is also helping coach and develop the Ugandan National Men’s Lacrosse team outside Kampala to get them ready for the World Championships in Denver, Colorado in 2014. They will be the first African team to compete in this competition.

Andrew gets most of his food locally, but sometimes he does his food shopping in Mbale Town or Soroti Town. And his water comes from a rain tank, but it hasn’t rained in months in Ngora.

Andrew says his favorite thing about his site is that he is on the radio 4 hours a day. “The reach via radio is awesome. While in my community, people continually come up and discuss programs that I have run and the response is great.” However life in Ngora may not be as glamorous as it seems. His biggest challenges at site are transportation, food, water and power. Although despite these difficulties, Andrew has many friends in his community and he rarely leaves his site.

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Mid-morning this morning I made my way from Kumi Town to Ngora District where Andrew's site is. His house is on a PTC (Primary Teacher College) campus and he is working with a local radio station out there. So when I first arrived he briefly showed me around the campus and then he took me to the radio station. He has a radio program he does in the afternoon from 12 to 2, so he had me join him for that. The first thing he did was put on the BBC for about a half hour to start off the show and then he had me explaining my project and then, more generally, what I've been doing in Uganda and how I've liked it here. So we were on for about a half hour. Then for the second hour of his normal show he had someone else take over so he could take me to town and show me around.

The Radio Studio
There are a few volunteers working with radio stations in Uganda and I really think they are some of the best projects. It's one of the best ways to discuss issues with a huge number of people. One observation that I made was that, unlike teaching, you don't get the instant reaction of people who you are talking to. You can never tell if they understand what you are talking about or not. However on the other hand, teaching only reaches about 60 or 100 kids at one time and the radio reaches thousands.

After we finished the radio show we walked back to town. Along the way, we collected a small army of children following us from a local primary school. We tried to get them to wave so we could take a picture. It didn't work. Once we got to town we had lunch at a local restaurant. I had millet bread (the staple food of this region) and chicken.

Then once I said goodbye to Andrew I traveled back to Kumi to pick up my things from Chelsea's house and I made my way to Soroti. Once I got into Soroti Town I met Joanna and another ex-pat at a local restaurant. Throughout the night we collected a few more ex-pats and we eventually had dinner. As the night was ending and we were heading back to Joanna's house it started to rain. First a little, then a little harder and we eventually got pretty wet, but we got in with no major issues.

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