Second week! Thoughts!
Aug 30, 2008
|Odyotye! (hello and how are you)
Thanks once again for all your messages, I love hearing from you guys back home :)
First up, let's answer a question from some of our readers:
To Alex, Ferny Grove: avoiding potholes here is important, as they are not the infantile variety we are used to in Aus, which are normally fixed within a few months of appearing. I'm fairly sure the ones here have been growing since the roads were first laid, and often take up half the road. Hitting one at high speeds is NOT a good idea.
I've moved into my host family's house at long last, just as I found out we'll be packing up and moving again in the next week or so! I'll keep you posted on what the new house is like. I'm living with 8 other people in the house here at the moment: Barbara and Chris, my host parents, and their sons Dollar and Ivory (Dollar's 3 and Ivory's 4 months old), their relatives (not sure exactly HOW they're related, I know they're looking after them though after their parents died) Emma (16), Liz (3ish), Amura (21) and Milly (older than 21?). You know those kids that you sometimes see that are so great you wish all the other kids could be like? They're ALL like that. Except maybe Dollar, he has gotten the in-your-face skill quite downpat, you must need that particular skill before you can graduate to become a 3 yr old. ANYWAY
So far it's been interesting at meal times here getting used to the food, which is usually matoke (boiled mashed unripe bananas, tastes like tofu and nothing!), and meat at dinner times. Don't try and ask for a steak at any of the local places to eat in town, the beef here is haphazardly cut into chunks which are then usually boiled. If you're lucky you'll get a piece that you can eat entirely without having to pick out bone and gristle from, but more often than not there is at least one sizeable piece of animal leftover (hope that leaves some lovely mental images for everyone :])
I've only been here just under 2 weeks and I already have a fair idea the thing I am going to miss most from home is going to be hot showers (seconded only by people who HAVE hot showers lol)! They're quite a rarity over here, if any houses DO have hot showers there is a hotplate in the actual shower head that heats up the water for you when you turn it on. I am still doing star jumps just before my early morning iced showers, but who knows, I might even harden up before I get back home? *scoff*
This week I headed back down to Kamuli with a couple of the other volunteers, Kim and Alison, to help paint the rooms and the beds of the kids rooms here (in their favourite colours, red for the guys and purple for the girls!). The conditions that the kid's home is in is pretty full-on, OGLM has helped to set it up and get it running, but the kids beds are rotting and the pillows have rats and other goodies living in them, the school doesnt have ANY supplies, apart from a board to write on (but no chalk?). So I'm thinking that over the next 4 months, in Kamuli my project is going to revolve around helping to get the home up to a standard that the kids are at least not likely to get sick from. We also helped fix up the playset that another volunteer built, but it concerns me that WE had to fix it. I worry about what will happen to the projects we setup, and whether they'll continue to run when we leave, or whether I will have to check up on them back home. We'll get to that in 4 months I guess :P
Tuesday! I headed down to TASO to help them out in whatever I could before I actually came up with my own project and worked on that. Conveniently enough, there was a group of people there who were heading out to a remote village to give HIV medicine to the people who need it, but can't get into the hospital by themselves, so I hitched a ride into the village and helped them out there. I met alot of kids while I was working counting out pills and helping to distribute them to everyone there. As I was talking to everyone, I kept realising that more likely than not, almost everyone I was talking to, and the kids I played with after we finished, were all HIV-positive. There was quite a few there who I found out had had to take medicine to help fight it from when they were born. And yet these are the lucky ones. I found out that 49% of the population in Uganda is under 15, as a result of AIDS almost wiping out an entire generation.
There is amost an entire generation of children here living without parents.
I know that we are helping some of them, but I also know that there is many more to which healthcare simply isn't available. I also know that the average life expectancy of a child born HIV positive without medical support is 3 years old. I keep wondering how many entire villages have been completely wiped out here as a result of it. I know that, even now, approximately 1 in 10 people here are infected, and that number is now back on the rise again.
And yet, oddly enough, 95% of deaths here are caused by malaria. This has just blown my mind, that something which is so easily preventable, and CURABLE, kills so many, simply because they don't have access to these things, so people have to watch their children die from something which SHOULDN'T still be causing so many people to die.
I've been struggling a bit with the standard of living these people have over here, as well as how WE live back home in Aus. We drive home in our cars, turn on the light switch, get food out of the fridge that we won't have to worry about getting sick from, maybe take some painkillers for a slight headache we've got, and lie down in our own clean bed. And yet we're still unhappy. We may complain about some little thing that someone has said about us or to someone else, or worry about what we will wear the next day for work, or go to bed wondering why we couldn't have had a family or home that seemed just that little bit easier to deal with. Our concerns seem so real and important to us, and yet in the context of the concerns people have across the globe, they seem petty.
But I didn't intend for this blog to be preachy or self-righteous, but I've probably done more thinking about my life back home these past two weeks than I have my whole life, I had to let it out somewhere :P
Take care of each other, enjoy the attached pics!
PS. Ladeez Joseph is interested in making some Mzungu friends from Aus, so if any of you are interested, his email is firstname.lastname@example.org, but please, don't rush him all at once!