Tuesday, March 26, 2013

“30 Sites and 30 Nights”—March 26, 2013 (Day 7)



Name: Liz Skeris

Age: 29

Home State: Florida

What she did before Peace Corps: Kindergarten teacher

Program Sector: Education

Number of months spent in Uganda: 25

Host Organization: Canon Lawrence PTC (Primary Teachers College)

Site location: Northern region, Lira district, Boroboro Village

Language spoken at her site: Lango

Liz is working with Canon Lawrence PTC (Primary Teachers College), which is a PTC in northern Uganda. It's not a core PTC so they don't have a coordinating center but they do have a demonstration school. She is working there as a math tutor (teacher) and her primary project includes teaching math lessons, preparing students going for school practice (marking and advising them on schemes of work and lesson plans) and supervising their school practice and giving feedback.

In addition to her primary project Liz has worked on a few secondary projects as well. She has been training the PTC students and staff how to make R.U.M.P.S. (Re-Useable Menstrual Pads). “I organized a workshop where we went over all of the health information, we made a sample pad, and made a visual aid of the menstrual cycle on a rice sack. Each participant got all of the materials needed to teach the program and we talked about how to use local materials for the pads, or have girls bring in material. This term my second year students will be on school practice and I've told them that if they want to teach this to their pupils that I have a balance of material and will come to the school to help them teach it. So from this point, the continuation of the project depends on their wanting to teach it.”
A girl at the local primary school posing for a snap (a picture)

Liz has also organized a World AIDS Day event with a fellow volunteer, Jacque Demko. “We organized a world aids day event two years in a row. We hosted a 5K race and a health fair at my college and used the members of the PIASCY (Presidential Initiative on AIDS Strategy Communication to Youth) club to teach the community about HIV.”

In her village, Liz can get flour, eggs, sugar, soda, tomatoes, onions, and sometimes milk, bananas, and other vegetables. However, she does most of her shopping in Lira Town where she can get more varied vegetables, pasta, rice, spices and condiments, etc. Liz also has running water in the bathing area of her house, however the water is only on about 50% of the time.

Liz’s favorite things about her site are the location of her house and the people who live near her, the people she works with and northern Ugandans in general. “The set up at my house gives me way more privacy that other volunteers and I recently got new neighbors who are awesome and friendly. Also the people I work with get my sense of humor and like to joke around. Also I find the people in the north in general to be more welcoming and friendly than other regions.”

Liz has two favorite moments at site. The first was the first Thanksgiving she spent in the village: “The first thanksgiving in country when I had eight other PCVs at my house and all we did for three days was cook and drink and laugh. It was my first big holiday away from home but spending it with my PC family was amazing.” The second was when she had a workshop to teach her students about R.U.M.P.S.: “I did a workshop for the girls at my PTC on how to teach the RUMPs program that PCVs teach at primary and secondary schools. Of course it started late and people meandered in and out as they pleased, but I had a core group of girls who were really into it; asking questions, volunteering information, helping one another. They even came to find me the next day so they could continue to work on their visual aids which were made using rice sacks.”

The biggest challenge Liz has found at her site is working with her college. “My college doesn't really utilize me other than as an extra tutor and it's been hard getting support in projects I am working on. This is seeming to change as we just got a new principal, but unfortunately I'm leaving soon so I don't know how much I will be able to get done in my last few weeks. Also my college is somehow disorganized so the time table is usually remade every term, it's done a few weeks into the term and even then it's *rarely* followed. Most of the time tutors just jump in when a classroom seems free and teach until someone kicks them out.”

The things Liz found to be most interesting about her community is “African time” and the communal culture. “It really is African time, nothing is done in a hurry, nothing merits freaking out over... Also how much of a collective culture it really is here. When it's tea time or lunch time, everyone takes tea or eats. There is no ‘no thanks, I'm not really in the mood for tea right now.’ It's really not in the culture anywhere for someone to refuse food that is offered because they're not hungry or have already eaten. Maybe it's related to poverty though?”

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I left Soroti this morning. I was easily able to get a taxi from Soroti going to Lira and I got off the taxi at the turn off for Liz's village, Boroboro, about 7 kilometers outside Lira town. The road from Soroti to Lira is one of the best in this country. It was so nice to come back here. I was here almost two years ago to visit Liz, but I haven't been back since.

Liz showed me around her school campus and then we took a short trip into town this afternoon to do some food shopping. After getting back we hung out at Liz's house and cooked dinner. We even made mango salsa!

Tomorrow I'm on to Jacque's site in Oyam District and then from there to Gulu Town the following day. I didn't spend much time in Lira, but it was definitely nice to come back and see it one more time.

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