Friday, September 23, 2011


- Twice now I’ve seen women walking around balancing giant knives on their heads as they walk along. Now it’s not uncommon to see women carrying an array of different items on their heads, but machete-like knives was a bit of a shock to me. . . I wish I could have snapped a picture without being obvious; it really was a sight to see . . .

- I had my first language lesson on Monday. I was surprised to notice that my teacher, Ali, had blue eyes. Not that I was staring deeply into them or anything (b/c that would be creepy) but I was looking him in the eye as he was explaining something. I just assumed his eyes were brown but when I really ‘looked’ at them they looked funny. Then I realized it was because they were blue!

- On Sunday Katie, Annette, and I were walking down to Main Street and I saw a lady holding a plastic bag with a live chicken in it, its head popped out of the opening. I thought it was funny.

- Last week I met two of the tailors I will be working with to help create items to sell at an upcoming craft fair on November 19 in Kampala. Florence was the first. She, I found out, had been through the last sewing class and was now making little dresses/women’s tops to sell in one of the café gift shops. The other tailor’s name was Sarah. I was excited to meet her because she plays a huge role in execution of the sewing classes and I had read a lot about her before I ever came over. I found out that she has been sewing for over 30 years, learning the trade in 1978. Then a year later she started up her own business and has been going ever since. Not only does she teach others and have her own business, but she is also the pastor at her church. Talk about a busy woman! Lucky for me we share the same name – totally got me bonus points in her book when we met. That same day I also met Irene, the gift shop manager (or owner, I can’t remember which) at The Source Café (our office is right behind it).

- And lastly we have a new addition to our home: TWO LITTLE PUPPIES!!! They are super cute and look a lot like Muffin. Their names are Fergus (short for Ferguson, which I love) and Liam. Lori is going to keep Liam but Fergus is just hanging out with us for a few weeks. Though they are little sprinklers they’re so gosh darn cute it’s hard to stay mad at them!

Another Initiation

Apparently you haven’t really experienced Jinja, Uganda until you’ve had the pleasure of a power outage. When these occur it’s hard to say how long it will last. I’ve heard the usual duration is a day or two but you never can tell. My first time finally came Thursday night. To prove that this was a big deal in my small steps towards becoming familiar in the country I was given a hi-five just for experiencing it.

The power stayed off until the next morning and then went off again an hour later until mid- afternoon. During this time I observed how clever Katie and Lori can be when coursed with providing their own entertainment. Katie started off by playing with the candles and decorating the holders with the melted wax. Lori on the other hand showed off her artistic abilities by dominating a Baby Animals Coloring Book. These activities combined with a brief conversation about whether each of us would choose to have an extremely large chin or a barely existent chin made for a very entertaining evening (at least to me).

Oh! AND I’ve decided Smokey and Charcoal (our ‘guard’ dogs) have decided to put me through the test as well. Smokey keeps sneaking in the house, hiding under the dining room table, and refusing to come out when I tell him to (of course Lori and Katie can get him out no problem). Then, late last week I had moved a chair outside to work in the fresh air and Charcoal comes up and starts peeing on it!! I tried to get him to stop as fast as I could, unfortunately it didn’t do much good. I still had to clean up a chair covered with urine. Wow, thanks boys, I’m enjoying our time together too . . . (aside from these instances I really am though, those punks).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Business Class

Right now it is the business class that is taking priority in terms of the vocational programs we’re working on. When I arrived Katie and Julius were about half way through the business course they were teaching in a nearby village, so for the rest of the class I am just observing.

Because of the focus on teaching the women basic business skills, the Sewing Hope classes have been put on hold for the time being. I quickly realized after going to the business class (and reading various pieces of literature and case studies) how vital it is to make sure the students know to manage and track their money once they have vocational skills they want to exploit. I will be helping with the next round of business classes later this year and also be creating a foundational sewing curriculum to be used in future Sewing Hope classes (apparently they didn’t have one before).

The pictures you see were taken during some of the business classes. We all cram into a small room of someone’s house (I’m not sure who) and run class from there. I heard that originally they were holding class outside but fleas soon became an issue. Given the alternative, I’m totally down with cozying up in a tiny room.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Walk into Town . . .

This is a picture guide of what you would see walking from our house into town . . .

. . . after taking a right to go the "alternate" way . . .
. . . One of the houses we pass along our way . . .
. . . After a left turn. Look closely and you can see Lake Victoria in the background . . .
. . . still walking . . .. . . broken down water truck. We're pretty sure it's been sitting there a LONG time . . .

. . . coming into town . . .
. . . boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis) and businesses, keep walking and you'll be right in the heart of Main Street!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Craziest Week Ever

This has been one of the craziest weeks ever, at least so far. After starting off on a low note (which was added to by the death of Tara’s grandfather) a light of joy shined upon us on Friday. As the saying goes new life makes losing life easier, Team Africa is happily expecting a new addition. Tara is pregnant!

The whole family went out to dinner to celebrate and I was happy to be able to watch Grace (Tara's husband) tell Edith and Timmy the news. It was quite the show and very entertaining. Here's a picture of the two of them making silly faces in their school uniforms.

And now for happy pictures. The following documents Katie and my Wednesday-night-Chicken-Pot-Pie-Culinary-Adventure.

Oh and tonight we made our own rendition of yellow curry. And it actually turned out really well! Wow, way to go us. If that wasn't enough excitement for the night, I spotted a mouse as it crawled out from under the couch while we were watching past episodes of Chuck. That started up a whole-house search for the little guy after we couldn't find it in the living room. I'm pretty sure it went back outside through the hole in the door, but Katie took a bit more convincing. And she wasn't pleased to see me walk back into the dining room brushing my teeth when I was supposed to be checking the bathroom either. I guess it wasn't the most appropriate moment to be multi-tasking, who knew?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bad things happen in 3’s . . . right?

This week has been a bit of a downer to say the least. First off, I got sick Sunday night and I honestly do not know what it was from. Katie thinks it was the malaria meds but I think it was just one of those quick little bugs that knock you flat on the ground but is over in a day or two. And on the ground I was, literally. You know, you really don’t realize how annoying passing out is until you have to race through any task in 30 seconds or less to prevent waking up on the floor seconds later. . . But don’t worry gang, I’m all mended and back to normal now.

Tragedy struck again mid-week with Muffin. Wednesday she was set to get her stitches taken out from her surgery the week previous. However, things appeared to be a bit off Tuesday night. After a day of moping around in what just seemed like a desperate plea for attention, Muffin was clearly in pain. We discovered her stitches were now bulging and as the night went on they started leaking. What started out as small little puddles, progressed into larger wet spots all over the house- in the living room, in the bathroom, and in the hallway. At one point Tuesday evening we couldn’t find Muffin, so Katie joked “I wonder which of our beds she picked.” Yeah, it wasn’t really a joke. Muffin had picked my bed to leak all over, wonderful. By this time Tara and Katie had McGuyvered their own cone to put on Muffin so she’d stop licking her stitches, which she continued to wear for the rest of the night.

The vet came early the next morning, but good news didn’t accompany him. I guess they discovered that the inside stitches hadn’t held and that was why Muffin’s sutures were bulging. Apparently she had lost a lot of fluid during the night and even more once the stitches were removed the next morning. It was just too much and she died right on the table. Katie, Tara, and I were in shock. Lori was in agony. Needless to say it was a very rough day.

Bad thing number 3 took place the same day as Muffin and was much more of a community hit than personal. Annette, a pregnant woman who is friends with everyone here at Fount of Mercy (Sewing Hope) was in a car crash with her husband and one of her small sons. Thankfully they were all ok, Annette coming out the worst- with stitches on her forehead and a pained leg. The vehicle that hit them was comparable to a school bus. And there were children onboard. Fortunately everyone was ok and only 5 had minor injuries. Driving here is really dangerous. Death from car collisions is not uncommon – that’s not to say it happens all the time, because it doesn’t. But the prevalence is pretty high. I think it goes without saying that we are all very thankful that everyone is safe and ready for the week to move on and get better.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sad Little Pooch

Pobre Muffin. Last night proved pretty tough for the little lass. The poor thing was having a hard time getting over the fact that all of her legs were not going to be working right away after her surgery earlier in the day. It wasn’t until early evening that she started getting really restless, managing to get up only to fall down a few feet away. But this wasn’t the climax of the excitement, oh no. For that you’d have to wait about 15 or 20 minutes for things to really get good – and good they got indeed . . .

The vet had told Lori that muffin could be given a pain pill in the evening and antibiotics the next morning. So Lori, wanting to ease any discomfort her furry companion might have, decided it was time to give her one. During the fleeting second Lori had left the room to get the pill Muffin decided to again, make a break for it. However, being the diligent dog watchers that we are, Katie and I were able to grab hold of the little darling before she toppled to the ground yet again. When Lori returned it was to see me holding Muffin up, my arms sling-style around her tummy/ribs, while Katie had her chest and was stroking her head. “Perfect, don’t move. This will make it easier to give her her pill,” Lori informed us.

I quickly learned this particular undertaking is one that more often than not requires force over persuasion. The result? Lori shoving her fingers in Muffin’s mouth to try to get her to swallow the small pill. Unfortunately this technique backfired in a major way. No sooner had Lori’s fingers disappeared into the black hole that is Muffin’s mouth that they reappeared just as quickly, and they brought friends. Before anyone could react Katie had a lap full of dog vomit (see picture), Lori- overflowing handfuls of bile, and I was just trying not to let go of the dog as I doubled over with laughter, trying not to pee my pants. Needless to say this little episode came as quite a shock, but man was is funny . . .

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Random Tid-Bits

*It seems to me that time goes slower since arriving in Uganda. I asked Katie if she felt the same and received a negative. Then again the fact that I haven’t really done much this week other than try to adjust and watch what other people are doing may play a large role in this perception as well . . . Anywho, my second day, really early in the morning (I have no idea the exact time), I heard what sounded like chants and singing. Intrigued, I listened harder as the noise became louder and then began to dissipate as if a procession was passing by on the road. Later that morning I asked Lori what it was and she told me it was probably some form of the Ugandan military, apparently there is a barracks nearby.

*Also, I’ve decided that the dogs here participate in the ‘Twilight Bark,’ just like in 101 Dalmatians. On several occasions this week around 1 or so in the morning all of the dogs start barking and howling simultaneously, it’s just weird and not quite so annoying when thought about from this particular point of view.

*Yesterday Katie and I were eating at Flavours and without even thinking about it I took a bite of a raw carrot that was sitting on my plate. After about 4 or 5 chews into my mouthful I froze – eyes wide with realizations. 1) This carrot was meant to serve the purpose of décor, not nutrition and 2) This carrot is raw, meaning not cooked, meaning eating raw food here is almost a sure way to wind up with a bacteria, parasite, or some other form of unpleasant ailment. Hmm, now the question is what to do? I’m sitting in public, in a country whose rules of social conduct I’m not particularly familiar with, and I have a mouthful of food that is more likely than not going to make me sick in a relatively short amount of time. So I swallowed it. It was just one little bite, right? Surely that’s not enough to cause too much damage . . .

Well, as the minutes ticked by I felt my stomach start to change – not quite upset but not feeling exactly normal either. Uh-oh. . . maybe swallowing that bite of carrot wasn’t such a good idea after all . . . After thinking about this predicament for a few moments longer I decided to just wait and see what happens, I mean there’s not much I can do about it now. 24+ hours later however, I am happy to report no bodily reactions out of the normal so I guess it was just a false alarm :D. Whew, dodged a bullet with that one! I would like to say I learned my lesson from that little experience and will be a lot more conscious of this sort of thing from now on, but I’ll be honest, that’s probably not gonna happen. But I can always hope . . .

*Muffin had an hour long surgery on a table in the front yard to have her lady parts removed today. Timmy, fascinated, watched the whole thing out the living room window. Eating from that dining room table will never be the same again . . .

*One of the books I’m supposed to read talks about the Ugandan culture and how it varies from that of the Western world. There are awesome illustrations to go with it. Boy am I glad this is how Americans/Westerners are generalized, awesome. But I’m not going to lie, it is a little funny.