Last week, I spent 3 days in Kyongera. The DEID (Duke Engineers for International Development) team is constructing two 3-classroom buildings there. For the first time in my life, I dug foundations, mixed and loaded concrete, and carried bricks & water with tools no more sophisticated than a shovel, hoe, and my own two hands. I know I say this a lot but the men here are truly very kanyama — strong. My shoulders were sore even though the amount I would shovel was pitiable compared to how much the Ugandans could lift. I think we’re helpful but obviously much slower. One day, the workers honestly just took all the shovels from us and started mixing concrete by themselves because they wanted to finish by 4pm. Still, it is at least nice to do something labor intensive. I’ve been sitting around too much lately.
Part of what makes going to Kyongera tough is also the 4 mile (one way) bike ride. The unpaved road is very rocky and hilly. There are also boda bodas and trucks that speed pass with barely any regard to how close they are to your unsteady bicycle. Multiple students have already fallen and gotten hurt on the ride and two or three bikes have broken down even though they are American quality shipped straight from the USA.
On the days that I haven’t gone to Kyongera, I’ve continued visiting Faith’s house and Home Again. I really enjoy playing with Manzi Josiah, Faith’s adopted son. He’s 2 years old and has the strangest smile (he sort of just curls his lower lip over the top). At first, he acted very shyly towards Maeve and I but since I’ve been around, he’s warmed up quite a bit. Now he’ll run and hug me whenever he sees me and will babble incessantly in a Rutooro/English mix that few but Debra and Faith can understand. He also loves playing games on my iPhone. His favorite is Smack Gugl.
Home Again is about the same as ever. Vincent was very feverish and sick but thankfully most of the other children seemed perfectly healthy. They really enjoy playing with the puzzles, coloring books, jump ropes, and various other games that the Schaads have brought. I love seeing them so happy and excited but it makes me sad how things don’t seem to last at the orphanage. I’m sure they’ve received tons of presents and toys from past volunteers but they often break or disappear fairly soon. I think the longest lasting playthings they have are their basketball hoop and playground.
I’m also happy to say that around 4 of us have started playing volleyball on a daily basis. It isn’t quite the same since Sam and Amos went back to Kampala early for school, but Moses still shows up occasionally as so do many other good players. They’re mostly men but there’s one girl who is very good. I only wish they would come a little earlier since we have started playing well until the sun has set and it becomes difficult to see the ball. But the same friendly rivalry and competition still exists so it’s fun.
Since I’m leaving Thursday, I’m fairly glad nothing happened at the Entebbe airport. I’m not sure how I feel leaving a second time. I’m glad I came to form new friendships and strengthen old ones. I’ll miss the new café (and specifically it’s banana loaves) and other small things about Kaihura but i don’t really want to think about going yet. It’s still too early.