Sunday, July 1, 2007

Getting old

Is it really summer there?? I am still stuck in the belief that it is February in America, because that's when I left and I cannot imagine that time progresses undisturbed without me. That's just preposterous! But evidently it is now July, which I am especially aware of due to the fact that today, at long last, I am 23 years old! I had a wonderful birthday, which I spent with many of my PCV friends here in Uganda. It's been great. I even got presents!!!!! Remarkable among the gifts I received are a hand crafted birthday poster in which I have googly-eyes, a turtle carved out of stone, a crown made out of banana leaves, and four humongous cabbages. It was amazing--although I have to admit that I gave the cabbages away to an orphanage because what am I going to do with FOUR monster cabbages?!?! At any rate, it was all amazing. And I cannot wait to receive all of your birthday wishes, which I trust all of you remembered to send out approximately three weeks ago, and that I will be receiving in the mail any day now!

Life here is good. My neighbors are getting used to me and I am finally settling into my house, I even have some furniture now!!! The top left picture was taken looking out my bedroom window. The top right picture is my neighbor Grace washing laundry in our backyard. She is a cook for the priests at the Catholic church. The bottom picture was also taken in my backyard. As you can see, the neighbors were doing some major cooking. My kitchen is the metal hut in the background. My recent home-improvement project has been making curtains. I bought some majorly cool African print fabric and have been sewing two curtains for my house, because that's how many windows I have, two. It's taken me a little while, but some days I have nothing else to do with my time and sewing curtains seems great. It's kind of like TV when your bored, except not really because it is not especially entertaining. But I don't have a TV, so curtains it is!

The other night I woke up to hear something rustling in my room. I listened for a minute and concluded that whatever was making the sound was certainly bigger than a cockroach, which can be pretty big here. So I decided I should probably investigate. My room has a sink in it, although there is no running water in my area, and as near as I can tell there never really has been running water despite the fact that some buildings have had pipes installed. Anyways, I tracked the noise to the useless sink, which had an empty travel-size tissue package in it. The package was moving. But what was in the package???? I couldn't tell. Deciding it was probably a bad idea to poke at the package or try to pick it up, I scooped it into a Tupperware and slapped the lid on. And what popped out of the tissue package??? A mouse!!! A very frightened mouse, and rightly so. I released him outside, but if the other ladies who live in my building had seen him he surely would have been beaten to death with a huge stick. Truthfully, I've seen my neighbor Grace pulverize one rat and one snake with a very very large stick. So this mouse was lucky he was only expelled from the house and thrown into a nearby bush.

My work with the schools here has been pretty slow in starting. There are days when I do absolutely nothing related to education. Instead I sew curtains or do my laundry or go to the borehole. But that's okay, because I see work on the horizon. I have an idea I am beginning to flesh out that would deal with literacy and creating books for children to read. There are NO story books available to kids here. Seriously, like NONE. This project could also deal with social aspects of issues such as AIDS. But this project is still just an idea, so don't expect much of an update on it for 4-6 months at least. Progress is slow! More immediately, I am working with my counterpart, Lukman Kirya, on organizing an Instructional Materials Exhibition at our school. We are asking schools in the area to create learning aides for different subject areas from locally available and low-cost materials. Then we will have an exhibition in which the materials are awarded recognition, by a panel of judges. Or at least that's the idea, we'll see how it goes. Could be amazing, but also has the potential to just be super stressful and mostly unsuccessful. On July 13th we'll see.....