Friday, February 27, 2009


So I am definitely falling into Murphy's Law of what can go wrong will go wrong. My wallet fell out or was stolen out of my purse, which had my drivers license, Ugandan student ID, Credit Card, and some money. Man...I am having some not so great luck!

Monday we went to a place called Baker's Fort, which is a place where Arab slave trading occurred. It was weird, if I didn't know the history of the place, I would have thought it was just a beautiful site outside of Gulu. As we were on our tour, it was still hard to imagine what really happened until we reached this long flat stone area. They explained that this is where people were beheaded because of the slant-the heads would just roll down. You could still see the axe marks in the rock...

Wednesday was my last night with my host family. They really welcomed me and I would love to go back and spend time with them-except for the awkwardness of them trying to baptize me...
I made them burritos because it was only thing "American" that I could think of to cook using Chapatti, beans, avacado and some veggis. It was nice being able to cook and share something with them after all they had done for me.

We drove to Kampala yesterday and on the way we stopped in this place called Luwero triangle. There were many killings and they had a memorial full of skulls and bones. I only briefly looked-but it wa really uncomfortable to see. We got to Kampala last night and the city is so overhwelming and busy. I have been missing how compfortable I felt in Gulu.

I will update more about Kampala soon!

Peace and Love,

Friday, February 20, 2009


So...again with more bad luck. All of my pictures from my camera were deleted. I was messing with the settings and accidentally reformatted the card and EVERYTHING is gone. All of the photos from home, basically everything since December AND everything that I had taken here. I am really trying to just put in into perspective and remember that they are just photos., but its frustrating.

On Wednesday we drove to Kitgum, which is about a two hour drive from Gulu. The first day we met with an organization called Straight Talk. They work a lot with youth and the impact of the conflict. We went to a community of child mothers, most of whom had been abducted and then became pregnant in the bush and are now young mothers. Many do not have husbands and they all have not been accepted back into the community because of the fact that they have a child and are a single mother. It was extemely heartbreaking to hear their stories. They asked used what we were going to do for them, and it is hard to say "well, nothing directly, we are just here as students learning about the problems."

Thursday we did some research for Straight Talk and met with a group of youth. We interviewed them about the idea of becoming youth leaders and what kind of training would be most helpful for them to take back to the community. We then went to an IDP camp/community and asked the other side. What they felt about youth leaders, since usually the elders are the main leaders, and what kind of services are most needed in the community. I met this mother named Irene and her baby Justin. (Everyone usually has an English/Christian name besides their Acholi name) The mother let me hold him and he was so adorable and just played with my hair and my hands. He was only 9 months old, and most likely born in the bush or born from a mother who was pregnant in the bush by rebels. Even when he puked all over me, he just pulled at my heart. The next day we gave presentations to those at Straight Talk about our findings and I felt like we did something really helpful for the organization.

On the other hand, everywhere we go we only meet with these woman or youth for maybe an hour and then are pulled away. Its been difficult actually being able to form any significant relationship with anyone. You meet people and you feel some connection, and then to realize that you may never see them again. Along with this, most people we talk to ask how we are going to help them. They want answers, and I am really struggling internally with myself on this issue of what I really doing here. Education aside, how am I helping anyone really by just asking questions. I am feeling really selfish in the sense that I am here gaining all this knowledge and not forming any relationships, and am only staying in each place for a couple of weeks. How am I helping or making an impact on the people who are really suffering and needs answers, and need help. Even when I try to explain why I am here, as a student, trying to learn and understand-the response is still, but how are you going to help US?

I think this will be an issue that I struggle with the entire time that I am here...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Rollercoaster of a Week

So the last few days have been very up and down. Just letting everyone know, this entry will be bluntly honest about what I have been going through.

So on Wednesday morning I woke to intense stomach pains and as the day progressed I started getting pretty bad diarrhea. I has a hard time eating so my program director took me to the hospital. I was nervous going to a hospital in a foreign country alone, but they were very helpful and I felt safe. They took a stool sample and as it turns out-just my luck-I have ecoli. Wednesday night was aweful. I was running to the bathroom every 15 minutes and in this culture you don't really talk about what is going on. My host family was nice and seemed concerned but it was really hard not being in my own bed. Because I could not ask for a bucket, at one point I had to quickly empty a plastic bag that had my shampoo in it and throw up. There are no garbages in the home so I just had to rince it out and re-use it each time I would get sick. Luckily the puking did not last long. I have been on two medications and today am feeling so much better. I called home for the first time since I left and it was nice to hear a familiar voice. Monday I have to go back and get retested to make sure it is not a strain resistant to the medications. I was a little upset, I did not get to go to the IDP camp and had to miss some classes.

So many of you probably do not know to the full extent the history of Gulu-I would recomend researching it! Even I did not know the extent to which conflict has devistated this area. My family has not yet talked about it, so this morning I brought it up with my host sister, who is maybe 10 or 11. As much as you hear stories, it never hits home until you talk to someone close to you about what they have gone through. My sister told me about what happened one night at the house I am staying in. As the violence got worse, my sister could see dead bodies from her house scattered along the road, and huts being burnt, and she said there was always blood everywhere-sometimes people find bones in the dirt from bodies forgotten about. A few years ago, the rebels came to my host house and began to sworm the house. It is made of cememt and the windows have gates and the doors are metal so it was better secures than most-especially the huts. The rebels began shooting and her and her sister hid under her bed while her father hid in the living room. She could hear the gunshot hitting the side of the house and the yelling of rebels to let them in. She said she saw one rebel come to the window of her room and take out a knife to break the glass. She showed me the windows that were shot out or broken. She said her family is lucky-if they would have gotten in, they would have captured the children and turned them into soldiers or wives just as many other children. She told me of cousins who had been abducted and then raped by the soldiers, who then had to give birth in the bush.

I am expecting that this is how the rest of my time will be-very up and down.

Peace & Love,

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


We moved in with our homestay families on Sunday. Currently there is my father, James, a sister; Maureen, and a brother; Innocent. The mother has been away visiting family but should be back today or tomorrow. The place is modest. I have a single cement room with a small bed and small desk. I have been very lucky and have an indoor toilet and shower. It is very small and the toilet and shower are open, so you are kind of showering over the toilet. The water is very cold, but refreshing after the sleeping in the heat. The family has been very nice about respecting my non-religious beliefs and not eating meat. I just explained that I have a sensitive stomach and meat upsets it. I feel like a stranger in the house though, since they will not let me help out yet. I am hoping when the mother arrives I will be able to help out more and feel more comfortable.

We started University also. We have been taking Acholi lessons and so far we have had lectures about the cultural identity in Uganda and one conflict resolution/prevention. So far they have been interesting and nice to get back into some sort of academics after being out of school for so long. I have been walking a lot. The walk to school is about 45minutes to an hour. My host dad drove me this morning, and offeref to drive me when he is available. So far I dont mind the walk, it is very peaceful. However, I am still feeling a little iffy about walking alone. It is hard to get used to everyone staring at you and being alone in an unfamiliar place.

Thursday we are going as a group to an IDP camp, so I will try to update this weekend.

Peace and Love,

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I have finally had a chance to get to a computer and have some time to fully update! I am currently in Gulu, which is in Northern Uganda staying at the Acholi Inn. It took us a long, terrifying, bumpy seven hour drive from Entebbe to Gulu. There is one single road, where two cars side by side can only fit if everyone holds their breath! When an oncoming car drives by, there is literally an inch in between, and everyone is swerving and honking and the people on the side of the road or at boda bodas (motor bikes). One amazing thing about the road was that we crossed the Nile. It is beautifully intense. We also saw some monkeys in the trees. We had our first Acholi lesson this morning, and it is exciting to get done with the orientation and finally get on the the school. We had to split up into group of 2 or 3 today and walk into town by ourselves for 4 hours and try to speak the language and get lunch. Most people ended up speaking English, and laughed at us when we attemped our Acholi. I think it was more out of suprise. Everwhere we go we get called mazunga! which means white person. It's pretty funny. The food here has been pretty good, and I have been able to hold to my vegetarian ways. A lot of starchy foods like rice, noodles, and potatoes, and usually some sort of beans but hardly any vegetables. The weather since we arrived in Gulu has been soo hot, but usually in the early evening it downpours for about a half hour leaving everything flooded. When I say downpour, I mean like nothing I have ever seen before! I love it. I am excited to get out of the hotels and start our actual lessons at Gulu University and moving in with my homestay family. I guess that is all for now, miss everyone from home!

Peace and Love,

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Only have a few minutes, just wanted to write a quick update. I havn't had any internet or phone access. I am in Entebbe doing orientation. Everyone in the group is great!! We leave tomorow, 6 hour drive to Gulu for a couple more days of orientation. I will hopefully get a cell phone Thursday and be able to update more at an internet cafe.

Peace and Love,