Friday, April 5, 2013

“30 Sites and 30 Nights”—April 5, 2013 (Day 17)



Name: Sara Sheafor

Age: 32

Home Town: Fort Collins, Colorado

What she did before Peace Corps: Worked in wardrobe in Los Angeles, was a nanny, and studied Child Development

Program Sector: Education

Number of months spent in Uganda: 26

Host Organization: Nakaseke PTC (Primary Teachers College)

Site location: Central region, Luwero District, Luwero Town

Language spoken at her site: Luganda

Sara’s host organization is the Nakaseke PTC, but she is working with the CCT (Coordinating Center Tutor) in Luwero so she doesn’t do much with the PTC. “It is hard to get to the PTC in Nakaseke from Luwero so I stay mostly in Luwero. I have been working with the primary schools to improve literacy, and make the resource center more resourceful.” She has also had workshops on Special Needs with a fellow volunteer, Maggie Lannoye, and RUMPS (Re-Usable Menstrual Pads). “I have also helped with the Government initiated workshops and incentives. I visit the teachers interested in working with me. I also have a Peace Builders club at Luwero Girls.” In addition to all this she has been working with teen girls both through “Shanti Uganda” and “Just Like My Child”, two organizations in Luwero, mostly teaching life skills and baking.

In Luwero, Sara can get a lot of fruits and vegetables especially pineapples. “Everyone comes to Luwero for the pineapples. Luwero is all about the Pineapple. ” She can also get rice, pasta and beans easily. However, it is difficult to get western food in Luwero and it is more expensive. Sara gets her water from the tap in her landlord’s compound. Although, when there is no power there is no water. The borehole closest to her has dried up, but in emergencies a close neighbor sells water from her rain tank.

Sara’s favorite things about her site are the friends she has made and working with “Shanti Uganda”, an organization near her site. Sara’s favorite moment at site was when she organized an event at a local primary school. “My favorite moment has to be during our world fair project at Luwero Boys. I got people from all over the world to come to the school and talk about their country. We set them up in a circle and invaded the P7 students and got SST [Social Studies Teachers] teachers from the Primary schools in our catchment area to come. They made passports and got stamps as they went to each country. Everyone had a good time that day.” Sara says her biggest challenge at site is working with her counterpart.

Sara has found the history and the culture in Luwero to be very intriguing. “I love the Buganda dancing, and how much people love to dance. I am also amazed by how hard women work here. Luwero was the center of the conflict Museveni led against Obote in the eighties.”

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Solicitor on my bus today
I left Arua this morning on the 7:30 bus. These buses are long, but they are nice because they always leave on time and you know around when you'll get in. A lot of the time, on any bus in this country, you will see a man who is selling things. It kind of looks like a live infomercial. And there was one of these men today that I think I've seen before. He always gets on the bus from Arua at a certain point and he always seems to wear a pale pink suit. He also speaks in English for the most part, where most other solicitors on buses I've seen speak in the local language. I'm always a bit fascinated by these guys, but I never buy anything from them. They are always selling remedies for aches and pains or magical skin lotion. It's just like cheesy infomercials in America!

So I arrived in Luwero at around 2:30 PM and Sara met me at the bus stage, which it right where they sell all the pineapples. From there we went to a local restaurant and got some lunch. Afterwards we went to where all the volunteers for Shanti Uganda live because we needed to pick up a mattress for me to sleep on tonight. We even managed to score a ride back to Sara's house with my bags and the mattress.

Jin planting a tree
Later we took a taxi down to Jin's site, because her school was having a going away party for her tonight. Jin is another Peace Corps volunteer who lives in Luwero District. This was obviously a traditional Ugandan event. We arrived with Jin about an hour and a half late. As we were walking up to her school, once the staff saw us they started announcing that Jin was approaching through the sound system they had set up. We got to sit at the head table because apparently as Jin's friends we were considered honored guests.

Sara and Jin at the beginning of the party
At any Ugandan event you always have to start with a prayer. After that there are usually a series of speakers who will each give a speech. Generally these are really long speeches, but tonight everyone kept it really short. Once all the speeches were finished they wanted all of the honored guest to take part in a tree planting. So all of us, including Jin, had to plant a tree so the school will always remember Jin. After the tree planting, they had to take a group photo to remember the event. Then Jin was presented with gifts and asked to make a speech herself. Where Ugandans can easily speak for forever, Americans sometimes don't know what to say at these events. But Jin gave a nice speech where she even greeted them and said goodbye to them in Luganda. Finally the ceremony itself ended and they served a “snack”. When they said snack, I thought of maybe a cake or something similar. No, this was a full dinner, which was really good. And then when dinner was over, there was dancing, because no Ugandan event is complete without dancing. Then when 9 PM rolled around we got a ride from one of the teachers back to Sara's house.
This little man loved dancing with us

Tomorrow morning I'm going to the homestay orientation for the homestays that will be used for the newest group that is coming to Uganda at the end of the month. From there I'm not sure what my plan is for tomorrow, but I will figure that out as I go along.

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