My Rutooro Dictionary

Sit – Icarra
Stand – Imerra
Wait – Leenda
Stop – Legka
Come here – Ija hanu
Say – Gamba

Ball – Empira
Girl – Omusiki
Boy – Omoju
Chicken – Encoco
Elephant – Enjojo
Hair – Esokay
Chai – Tea
Potty – Sous sous
Watch – Esaha
Arm – Omuveeri
Head – Omutu

1 – Emu
2 – Ibeeri
3 – Isaatu
4 – Inna
5 – Itanu
6 – Mukaga
7 – Musangu
8 – Manana
9 – Muenda
10 – Ikumi

Yes – Eggo
No – Naangwa
Please/Sorry – Chaalie
How are you? – Olliota
Good/pretty – Kurungi/murungi
I love you – Ninkungonza
You – Eeway
Yours – Yawwe
What’s your pet name? – Impaaco yawee
How many – Zinga
Slowly, slowly/gently, gently – Mporra mporra
Thank you – Waybuhlay
Strong – Kanyama

My Rutooro Dictionary

Later, Kaihura

Kaihura is a small but growing village in Kyenjojo District. Its residents are friendly and its food delicious. A big part of why I enjoy my visits there is because of the genuine hospitality everyone in BHTF shows us. And every time, I hope that we repay it properly.

I used my last few days in Kaihura to print out pictures to give to the kids at Home Again and a couple others who have helped make my stay so pleasant. I helped Liz and a deaf and/or mute carpenter (Liz called him “dumb”) finally put up the picture frames that Maeve made decades ago and played with all the babies one last time. Then I went around and said good bye to everyone including Debra, Tugume, Manzi, Nora (who I brought back to visit the Duke house), Prossy, and Liz.

I lucked out in traveling to the airport because I got to travel to Entebbe with Faith, who was going to the Congo on the same day for ministry work. We took the Kalita bus and she called Debra and we both talked to Manzi (who makes even less sense on the phone but sounds twice as adorable). Although we experienced a lot of the usual Ugandan waiting game, I arrived at the airport exactly in time for my flight. I hugged Faith good bye and passed security with a breeze. Unfortunately, I also started to feel ill around then. I think I finally caught the fever bug that was going around the Duke house and orphanage. As a result, this round of flights was probably my most uncomfortable personally. I had a fever, threw up, and was sweating uncontrollably. But at least I had no trouble through customs or with any other airport delays!

Now finally being back in the US, I can’t wait for that first home cooked meal (I’m craving my dad’s noodles) and to see dust free paved roads and white, two-story houses again. I feel like now would be the time to write some type of reflection about my last 7 weeks but I honestly can’t think of that much to say. I don’t believe that was my last time in Uganda and I think I’ve mentioned all of my important memories and thoughts in earlier posts. I will say this: every time I go anywhere, I always learn something new. My most enjoyable and surprising lessons have always been abroad though. If you haven’t traveled out of your home country, I believe it’s a sincere must. You won’t regret it.


Later, Kaihura

Hand Games

Here are some of the hand games the kids at Home Again have taught us to play. Juliette is the absolute queen of hand games. There are a ton more but these are the ones I’ve learned the words to::

Dome Say
Dome say my dome say
Oh my day oh
Oh my day oh day
Rikki tikki day oh day
Rikki tikki day oh day
Rikki tikki
1, 2, 3!

Super sauna
Big boys
Clever girls
[speed up]
Domina super sauna big boys clever girls
1, 2, 3, 4
Again again
The last one stop!
[no smiling contest]

Cigarette cigarette
How many cigarettes does your father smoke in one day?
1, 2, 3, 4
Now you go out of our game.

Zu Zu
Zuuu zuuu but where we go
Baht zuu
Baht zuu sensation
Listen to all the people in our nation
They sing
A B C D…

Hand Games

Mixin’ It Up

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.

Mixin’ It Up

Stephen’s Wedding

Last week, the most exciting and hyped up event was Stephen and Monica’s Introduction at Faith’s house on Thursday. Her house was packed with all sorts of people setting up and getting ready and the number of kids running around was nuts. The wedding itself was in Fort Portal on Saturday.

The Introduction is a purely Ugandan ceremony that is best described as a well staged play. It involves the groom’s family arriving at the bride’s home and publicly negotiating with her family the dowry, including how many cows to give. Since Monica is an orphan, Faith (who is somehow related) hosted. However, she did not talk since traditionally fathers hammer out the details. Another part of the Introduction involved the groom choosing his correct fiancé out of serveral “Monica’s” presented in staggered groups throughout the afternoon. The first group involved children (including Juliette, Daphne, and Sharon from Home Again) while the other two were all made of adults (including Prossy and Debra). In total, there were probably around 20 “Monica’s”. They were all dressed in beautiful traditional clothing. Monica only appeared in the last group and was by far the most dressed up girl with a lot of gold in her hair and wearing very fancy, shimmery material. There were lots of Rutooro jokes and Dharaja, the children’s choir, also performed. They were my absolute favorite part. Faith’s house was beautifully decorated and painted for the 400 guests. Nearly everyone from BHTF was there, including the children from Home Again we were pretty sure skipped school. While the negotiations were real, some of the presents were symbolic. One girl told us that the Introduction was really a lesson for the groom to learn patience.

On Saturday, the wedding was at a small, somewhat dirty church completely filled with guests. Several church choirs sang and a special dance group also gave a performance. Juliette, Purity, and Victor acted as flower girls and boy. Stephen and Monica sat at chairs at the front of the church with big smiles on their faces. After all of the welcoming and introductions were made (and trust me, there were A LOT), the two exchanged vows, hugged (PDA is not very acceptable in Uganda), and signed their marriage certificate. While the Introduction involved traditional dress and about 4 outfit changes for Monica during the half day event, the groom and bride dressed in suit & tie and white wedding dress at the church. The wedding lasted 4 hours, mostly because of the religious singing and dancing. Even though those took up the most time, they were also fun. The couple also received a sermon from Stephen’s uncle on how to be good to each other that honestly sounded rather repetitive and long to me. In fact, both ceremonies were very dragged out and we did not stay for the entirety of either. We also showed up more than 2 hours early to both. I went with Caroline (a volunteer from last year) and the Schaad family. All of it was pretty drawn out and boring and I really wouldn’t have gone if Stephen hadn’t been such a great friend and lived in our house 2 years ago. But now I don’t think I’ll be going to another wedding for a very long time.

Otherwise, nothing much has happened. A lot of the volunteer groups have left. We’ve started playing volleyball and found a mini market in Fort Portal that sold really pretty, unique African material. We also enjoyed ice cream over the weekend and got caught in a rainstorm walking back to Mountains of the Moon. Kelsey (Schaad) got to deliver a baby at the clinic and I’ve slowly taught the babies my name. Kato (I’ve been spelling his name wrong this whole time) has started running up to me and asking me to pick him up almost every time I see him. I’ve been more than happy to comply. With less than 2 weeks left here, I’m looking forward to helping the DukeEngage team build classrooms at Kyongera and to continue visiting Home Again.

Stephen’s Wedding

Well, well, well

Twelve men stand around a hole looking down.  Two men are eight feet below ground making steady THUMP, SPLASH, SQUEEEEEEECH sounds as they swing hoes over their shoulders and into the muddy water.  Each time a tool breaks the water, the two must turn away to avoid being blinded by the flying brown liquid.  They, along with everyone else, are completely covered from head to toe in brown clay.  Every few minutes, the men in the hole must take a break from digging to bail out water and rocks into makeshift jerry can-pails.  After filling these, the people up top slowly haul them up, dump them out, and throw the containers back down.  All of the men are directing, joking and yelling in Rutooro, digging the first well ever for their village.

This weekend, I went to Kyente, where Bringing Hope to the Family (BHTF) is constructing a well with money donated from Know, Think, Act.  Visiting there, I was once again reminded of just how strong every single individual here can be.  When my guide Prossy and I first arrived, only a few men were at the work site.  But then one man blew an instrument fashioned from a cow horn and the rest of the community arrived to help dig.  Periodically, men would rotate digging, dumping, and watching.  Some chewed sugar cane while others roasted corn.  Most told stories I couldn’t understand until everyone burst out laughing and Prossy translated.  Even though it was hard work mixing cement and carrying down blocks, I felt like I could’ve been at a very muddy field day.  Everyone seemed to be in such high spirits.

After digging, the men had to set and cement stone blocks in a circle and fill the remaining outer space with loose rocks.  They had to lower each individual stone with a pail down the ten foot deep well without dropping it and knocking out the person at the bottom.  Very few people wore shoes and even the engineer didn’t have any special uniform.  Whenever a tool broke, they simply gook a pagna (similar to a machete) and shaped a new piece of wood for the hoe handle or whatever they needed.  It was incredibly meticulous and laborious work and it made me once again very thankful for all of our machines and electric tools in America.

I’m very happy that this community is finally getting the water they need (their source before was just a shallow, brown water body only a few feet deep and basically stagnant) but it made me think of all the other villages deep in Uganda that are missing out on what many Americans would consider necessities.  Kyente did not have a full primary school or medical clinic less than 20 kilometers away.  It’s bewildering sometimes the depth of some communities’ poverty and yet the happiness and genuine amiability they still possess.  They gave us free lunch and more mangoes than we could eat.  I asked Prossy why the community didn’t have a well until now and she told me it had to do with politics and the ability of local leaders to get what they needed.

I’m always impressed by those who can give so much even when they are lacking.  I wish to be like that.

Well, well, well

The State of the Water

Last week, I collected water samples from 5 different sources: an open well, an underground spring, a spring box, a rainwater harvest tank, and a public tap station.

By far, the source that was visibly the dirtiest at its source and on the bacteria culture plate was the open well. It was located in a deep village almost 10km from Kaihura and was dug at the bottom of a hill behind the village leader’s house. On the hill were a bunch of cows, goats, and other farm animals whose feces could be easily washed downhill. To get to the well required a brief hike through a swamp. The path barely kept my shoes dry and I had to tip-toe a lot of it supported by just a few thin branches spread across the shallow water. The grass was taller than me and more than once, I slipped and almost fell in. The well itself was simply a hole dug in the ground. It was only 1.5 feet deep, very brown and murky, and had shiny silver patches that looked suspiciously like oil. I was shocked that this small, dirty water feature, perhaps only a few meters in diameter, supplied water to the whole village of 150 people. And they also told me that sometimes if they found sediment in the water, they simply woudn’t take any until the next time it rained. And only then would they boil their water.

I’m happy to say that the rest of the sources were much cleaner and well cared for. The rainwater tank was somewhat dirty but only because nobody cleaned it out like they were supposed to. The spring and running water system barely had any bacteria colonies in them. Adolf and I also gram stained the samples and found almost all of them were gram positive. This, I have learned, essentially mean that the bacteria have a membrane that makes it harder for things (such as disinfecting agents) to be absorbed. Consequently, it is also harder for the water to be treated.

From all this, I’ve basically concluded that Kaihura itself doesn’t need point-of-use water treatment devices. However, surrounding villages may. But because those villages are not on the main road and are often much poorer, it would be more difficult to obtain and distribute supplies. However, the villagers have told me that one feature they value is having a treatment device that can be available at every household for convenience. As a result, I’m still somewhat toying with the idea of building some type of ceramic water filter factory at Kyongera but thar would be in the very far distant future.

I’m glad that I now have solid results to report. This week I’m planning on going out to a well that BHTF is building in a partner village. I’m excited and I hope it will be much better protected and covered than the one I sampled.

In addition, the DukeEngage team, the Schaads, the Sassers, and a couple other volunteers affiliated with Know Think Act all arrived this last week! It’s cool to see how this Duke team is different and similar to my team and to suddenly have so many mzungus around. One thing I’ve forgotten is how structured and scheduled Americans like to be. We like to make lists and plans and to check off accomplishments so we can ensure we’re making the best of our time. I feel like people who’ve visited Africa often talk about “African time” and how much they appreciate slowing down from their hectic lives. I’ve definitely slowed down but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. I’m still in the mindset that a good day is one in which I finish a lot of tasks. Recently, I only feel as if I’m constantly killing time. With my research mostly finished, I hope that that feeling will pass and I’ll have more motivation or a concrete objective to push for here.

The State of the Water