Sunday, February 5, 2012

Kyabirwa

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I arrived on Thursday afternoon and since my arrival, I’ve been writing and re-writing this blog, making lists, collecting photos and trying to remember every single second so that I can get it down correctly. The truth is, I won’t get it down correctly. It’s impossible to describe, but here is my best shot.

I’ll start with this: I am living in a village. I am probably 6-8 miles outside of town. It is VERY DIFFERENT HERE than from any other place I’ve ever lived, or visited. I’ve composed a list of things that make it different…
  • They speak Lusoga (Swahili is spoken in Kenya and Tanzania); I’m picking up words here and there…
  •  They use Ugandan Shillings instead of US Dollars (2,300 shillings to a dollar)
  • There is no concrete, no pavement. Mostly dirt.
  • They live in huts or very small structures (Homes? Sorta…) There are no kitchens. They do all the cooking in a hut outside the home.
  • There is no electricity - with rare exception – I am one of them. Electricity is sparse at best – I’d say 15% of the time, we have it...
  • There are no refrigerators.
  • There are no cars.
  • There are no other white people or native English speakers.
  • We sleep under mosquito nets.
  • We walk to get anywhere, then – if necessary- we take some form of public transportation. Yesterday I hopped in the back of an open cargo truck, then on the back of a motorcycle to get into Jinja. (That’s public transportation, right???)
  • There is plumbing (YAY FOR TOILETS) but no hot water.
  • People hang out. A lot. Sometimes they talk to each other. Other times they just sit there and stare out. So strange to me. 
  • There’s livestock, everywhere. Chickens, goats, cows, pigs – literally within 25 feet of where I am right now (I’m in my bed…)
  • People (except for the fact that they assume that I’m going to give them money because I am white) are incredibly warm and gentle.
  • The kids here are about 100 time cuter and more friendly than American kids.  (Not YOUR American kids… the other ones. ;-)

 I’ll be honest, I’ve been complaining and feeling sorry for myself since I arrived. Best said, every single thing I knew about life has changed. I’ve been trying to accurately figure out how to describe it… but pretty basically it’s a lot like you would imagine village life in Africa to be like, except there’s a giant white woman living in this one.

So in a better moment I tell myself, “Buck UP girl! This is what you chose! You wanted this! So freakin’ choose it!” And so I did. Sort of. At least, I chose to go running, conducting my own parade through the village, literally.

If you can imagine walking or running down the street and having every single person turn to look at you; children screaming at you “Hey, WHITE PERSON” and running to the edge of their properties, waving. Parents and other adults either smiling or staring at you, trying to figure out why the heck you would be here. It’s DAUNTING. I haven’t seen a woman in pants since I’ve been here. They all wear long skirts or dresses. It’s weird enough to see a white woman here, weirder to see her in pants, but then – to see the white woman running down the road in her Nike running shorts, 1978 Barry Manilow concert tour T-shirt, and Solomon’s with her hair piled on top of her head like a rat’s nest… THAT is something to stare at (apparently).

I wish I’d had my video camera. It started light and fluffy… running by a couple little huts, saying “Jambo!” so they don’t think I’m a jerk, a slight wave, and then moving on. Then to the “main road” where I couldn’t take two breaths without someone yelling at me, and having to yell back niceties between my gasps. Then a child decides it’s fun to run with me, and then another, then 5 or 6 kids are running with me. The kids that aren’t running with me are on the side of the road yelling “MZUNGU!!!!” Even the little teeny kids that can barely walk or form their words were yelling at me “UUUUUNGU, UUUUNGU!!!!” A grown man even started running with me. I was like a chubby Forest Gump!!! I could not stop laughing. SO FUNNY!!!

I figure, at least I’ve connected with the village now, even if I am the lady that runs from nothing. Oh, and I made sure to teach the kiddos their first bit of English – “RUN, RUN, RUN, RUN!!!” They picked it up pretty quick. Really though – it was great. For the first time, I feel like I can belong here. (Thank god for RUNNING!!!) I came back with renewed energy – life.

I start teaching tomorrow morning – English to the P5 class (12-ish year olds). Last year the P5 class had 125 students in it. Seeing as I have so much experience teaching (NOT), this could be REALLY interesting. I figure, worst-case scenario I’ll teach them a couple of English songs and make them sing really loud. That’s effective, right? Wish me luck!!!

So, other than being REALLY dirty, being frustrated with the very unstable electricity, and feeling slightly isolated – all is well!

1 comment:

  1. I'm all caught up on the blog!! It's amazing...
    And I know it says Kinsie is posting, but it's really Laura! :)

    ReplyDelete