Thursday, March 28, 2013

“30 Sites and 30 Nights”—March 28, 2013 (Day 9)

Name: Ellen Grim

Age: 24

Home Town: Hamburg, Pennsylvania

What she did before Peace Corps: Volunteered in Big Bend National Park, and she was a High School ESL Teaching assistant and Spanish language interpreter

Program Sector: Education

Number of months spent in Uganda: 4

Host Organization: Christ the King Primary Teachers College/Demonstration School

Site location: Gulu district, Lacor Village

Language spoken at her site: Acholi

A lovely shaded walkway on the PTC campus
Ellen has a very unique education site. She is working with Christ the King PTC (Primary Teachers College) as a tutor and she is also there to give support in science and critical thinking skills. In addition to this she is working with the demonstration school to increase literacy. Ellen’s PTC is also one of the few PTCs that is all girls. Because Ellen is so new to her site she doesn’t have any secondary projects yet, but she is hoping to start a running club that meets 3 or 4 times a week before classes.

Ellen does most of her food shopping at the local market in Lacor where she can get produce and eggs, but she can also get a wide variety of food in Gulu Town. Ellen has running water in 5 rooms of her house plus in her bathroom! However, for drinking water she carries a 10 liter jerry can from the local borehole .75 KM away from her house every day.

The Catholic church on the PTC campus
Ellen says her favorite things about her site are the location and her neighbors. She likes the fact that she is close enough to town for all the conveniences that it gives her, yet she is far enough away that she gets a “rural feel”. She also enjoys the families that live near her, who teach her Acholi. So far, her favorite moment at site was when the PTC students finally arrived after she had been at site for one month. Ellen says that her biggest challenge at site is that the school term started so late because they had to wait on last year’s test results.

Ellen was interested to find out some of the history of her site and it’s relation to the war that ensued in Northern Uganda for a long time. “During the insurgency/war in the north, people from outside of town came to campus at night for safety. My house often sheltered people traveling into town, including at one time the father in my host family.”


Today was quite a busy day. I left Jacque's house at about 8 AM this morning and I had to wait for a vehicle to get me to Gulu Town. I made it to Gulu by about 10 AM and from there I got a taxi going toward Lacor, but I got off before that at Ellen's site. The taxi I took was the worst looking taxi I've ever seen in this country. This taxi looked like it was about to fall apart. From what Ellen says, that's what all the taxis going this way look like.
Ellen's kittens

Once I got to Ellen's site, she first took me to her house. Her house is HUGE! It is definitely the biggest Peace Corps volunteer house I've ever seen. She has 8 rooms and about 5 of them have running water. So when we got to her house, she showed me her cats (she has one momma cat and 4 kittens) and we sat and chatted for a while about her site and her experience in Uganda thus far.

Ellen is a very unique volunteer. She wants so much to become integrated into her community, so she often does not use the amenities she has so that she can truly see how the local people would do things. Despite the fact that she has running water, she still goes to fetch water from the local bore hole every day. And not only does she fetch water, but she also carries it back to her house on her head, just like the local women would. Ellen also does not typically use the electricity in her house. She will use it to charge her phone and computer, but at night she usually uses her solar lamp to light her house.

After hanging out at Ellen's house for a while, she took me on a tour. We saw both the PTC (Primary Teachers College) and the demonstration school. The PTC was somewhat deserted because many of the students left for the Easter holiday. However at the primary school, we saw all the students at their final assembly before their short holiday.

All the unripe mangos on the trees
Then after spending a few hours with Ellen, I made my way over to Brianna's site, which is just a couple kilometers from Ellen. When I first arrived here, Brianna and I walked to the local market to get some food for lunch and we came back to her house to eat. Afterwards Brianna took me up to her school and showed me around. She even introduced me to some of the blind students. Brianna even picked some unripe mangos for us to eat. They taste kind of like granny smith apples. We were eventually chased back to Brianna's house due to the rain and that is where we will probably spend the rest of the night.

So I'm spending tonight at Brianna's house and then tomorrow I will make my way back to Gulu Town and spend tomorrow night at Michelle's site in Gulu. Another day down.

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