Tuesday, April 9, 2013

“30 Sites and 30 Nights”—April 9, 2013 (Day 21)



Name: Kristina Borck

Age: 27

Home State: Michigan

What she did before Peace Corps: Retail District Manager

Program Sector: Community Economic Development

Number of months spent in Uganda: 10

Host Organization: (CSWCT) Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Wildlife Conservation Trust

Site location: Bulindi Village, on the Masindi-Hoima Road, Hoima District

Language spoken at her site: Runyoro

Making paper beads as an income generating activity
Kristina works with the Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Wildlife Conservation Trust. CSWCT is trying to work with the local community to get them to focus on conservation of the forest and the chimpanzee habits. Her primary task is to begin making the education center sustainable, so she works on income generating projects with the trust. There is also a women’s group that she is working with at the education center. What Kristina finds most interesting about her organization is that their main project is a chimpanzee sanctuary that is on an island in Lake Victoria. “Also, all of the employees are Ugandans who are very invested in conservation work which is amazing to see considering not many think much of wildlife in most of Uganda except to consider them pests.”


Kristina is not able to get very much food in her trading center, but every Thursday there is a local market where she can get produce. Otherwise, she goes to Hoima Town or Masindi Town to do most of her food shopping. Kristina gets her water from the tap and the bore hole at the secondary school next to her house. Sometimes her neighbor, a secondary school student, fetches it for her.

The thing Kristina likes most about her site is the people. “They are very friendly and receptive to when I need help. They have had international volunteers in the past so they are understanding and accustom to the issues and problems they have.” And her favorite moments at her site are when she gets to see wildlife. “In my village there are vervet, black & white colobus monkeys, and chimpanzees!”

Kristina’s biggest challenge at site is getting the local people interested in conservation despite their level of poverty. “The local people are trying to get by on very little so they have bigger problems to think about so conservation is an afterthought, which is what my organization focuses on.”

Kristina was placed at this site when she recently had a site change, so she is still acclimating and adjusting to life here, while also trying to get to know people and get work done. “I have a few acquaintances and so far I greet a lot of people every day and have taken a lot of time to introduce myself to as many people as I can in my village. People really appreciate and are very friendly when you take the time to introduce yourself, especially in the local language.” One of the things she finds most interesting about her community is their use of pet names, Empaako. There are only 12 different pet names and everyone gets one. So many people have the same pet name. Sometimes if you can't remember someone's pet name you can just call them any pet name.

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After Lori left for work this morning, I went back to Hoima Resort Hotel. I had some time to kill before I had to make my way out to Kristina’s village, so I went to get some more free internet. After spending a few hours there, I went to catch a taxi out to Bulindi.

Taxis are kind of unpredictable. I got in one today where I was the last passenger. I was sitting in the front seat with another guy sitting between me and the driver. This was actually pretty spacious compared to what I was used to. Anyway, we started going and as soon as we got on the road to Bulindi we stopped and the guy next to me got out. We were barely out of town. What he was doing was picking up some boxes he wanted to take, but he made the whole taxi wait about 10 to 15 minutes for him. Once we finally started moving we only went about 10 minutes down the road before we stopped again. At first I didn't understand why we were stopping. The same guy next to me got out and we drove away. Then I realized what was happening because I saw the police. The driver didn't want to get stopped for overloading the vehicle so he took this guy out to make it look like less people in the car. So after we passed the police officer we stopped and had to wait for the guy to catch up to us. So this took another 10 to 15 minutes. In the end, a trip that should have taken 25 minutes took more like 40 or 45 minutes.

Kristina practicing with a bow and arrow that she found in the education center
Black and white colobus monkey
Once I made it to Kristina’s she took me back to her house and she made lunch. When we were done eating we went back out to the road to get a taxi back towards town a little ways. Her work is about 2 miles from her house and she can get a taxi going there. We went because there was supposed to be a meeting of the women's group today at the education center, but only 2 women showed up. We ended up staying there for a couple hours. Kristina showed me around and we tried to look for monkeys. We ended up seeing a couple monkeys while we were there and a few more on the walk back to Kristina’s house. We didn't see any chimpanzees, but Kristina did see one once on her walk home. So after spending some time in the education center, we realized that no more women were going to come so we went back to Kristina’s house. We walked about half way back, stopping for a soda along the way and then we got a taxi the rest of the way.

Now we are just hanging out at Kristina’s house and she is cooking dinner. Tomorrow morning I'm leaving Hoima to go to Kelsey's site, which is near Jinja.

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