Tuesday, May 27, 2008

HIV/AIDS Teachers Training (Monday May 19th-Friday May 23rd)


I am sorry again that it has been a while since my last blog. There is absolutely NO time to use the internet here...and when you do get a chance the one computer at the KACCAD office is being shared by about 10 people. So I am sorry to have kept you all waiting!

Last week, KACCAD hosted a HIV/AIDS workshop for 30 secondary school teachers in Wakiso District (the district where Bulenga can be found...as well as Kampala). The teacher training was a great experience and was able to happen because of a grant KACCAD received. The teacher training was about a 30 minute drive from KACCAD headquarters, which meant that we all had to be up and ready to go by 7:30 a.m. However, whenever there was rain the night before the roads were INSANE. The roads here are all red earth and when it rains it is like the road creates thousands of pot holes. The car even got stuck in the mud and we had to help push it behind up this HUGE hill....that was not a fun morning exercise, let me tell you!

On Monday, we had an entire day of HIV/AIDS education. We gave the teachers so much information, ranging from the difference between HIV and AIDS to details about how HIV is transmitted and how it can be prevented. It was a great day because I was able to learn so much. It was great because KACCAD let me and the other volunteers lead some of the sessions. It is great teaching experience (I lead lessons on HIV transmission and on STD's). Then, once we had an entire day devoted to HIV/AIDS education, the rest of the week was about empowering the teachers to take what they have learned and to actually lead games/lessons on their own.

Therefore, from Tuesday to Thursday we had groups of 2-3 teachers leading a variety of sessions such as Women and HIV, Best Response lesson, Decision Making, etc. However, when we turned it over to the 30 secondary teachers...it became a very interesting experience. I was shocked by how little respect the other teachers showed eachother (such as how well they listened to eachother) and by how the standards of education are so much lower here in Uganda then they are in the U.S. Many of the teachers do not even have a college degree. While many of them knew English, they had very poor communication and lesson planning skills. KACCAD (the volunteers) had to sit down with EVERY group to ensure that they knew how to lead the lessson. Even with that, they did not follow the lesson plans that we had written out for them (they all had a copy of this book called Life Skills that Peace Corps had put together with lots of lessons and games on how to teach HIV/AIDS). Therefore, many of the lessons that the teacher's taught were not hitting the themes or subjects that we wanted to discuss.

One example was the Gender Roles game. This lesson went horribly. The objective was to first have the audience go by instinct and put words such as "leadership, cooking, strength, intelligence, etc" under Male or Female. Then, they were supposed to discuss how these words can really go under the title BOTH (Male and Female) except for physical traits like pregnancy or something. However, the teachers leading the lesson turned it into a show about traditional Ugandan culture and we (KACCAD)got so upset by their choices (for me particularly, that leadership was only capable in Males)...:(

Moving on, another big challenge to the Teachers Training was time management. The KACCAD staff always arrived at 8:00 a.m. so that we could set up things and organize materials for the day....and the training was supposed to begin by 8:30 a.m. However, most TEACHERS did not arrive until 10:00 a.m. This was very dissapointing, as they are teachers to high school students and should be role models. However, I am beginning to realize that EVERYTHING in Uganda is slow. If you say you will arrive at 3:00 p.m. ...don't expect them to arrive until 5:00 p.m. It is very frustrating to me, as I expect people to be on time and ready to learn.

Overall, the teachers training was a success. Our Pre and Post Surveys about HIV/AIDS knowledge of the teachers showed that 91% of the teachers by the end of the training were qualified to teach about HIV/AIDS. Also, I forgot to mention that on Thursday and Friday of that week we also had two HIV/AIDS testing events. On Thursday, all of the teachers had the opportunity to get tested for free. Of the 30 teachers, 1 tested HIV positive.

Then on that Friday, we had a day long FREE community testing event. We had 133 people show up, which is a great boost from the last one hosted by KACCAD which only had 80 people. About 12% of those tested on Friday were HIV positive (which is a really high rate and therefore shows how big of a social issue HIV/AIDS is in Uganda and especially in Wakiso District).

Before I finish up about the HIV/AIDS Teacher Training....here are a few challenges that I am still trying to figure out:

Some of the teachers at the training (who are supposed to be secondary school teachers asked these questions below to me:)

*"White Muzungus (people) brought HIV/AIDS to Africa to kill us all"
*"Condoms cause cancer"
*"We should just kill all the people who are HIV positive or who have AIDS
*"If you have sex with a virgin, you can't get AIDS"

What on earth are some of these people thinking? It is hard to not judge some of these teachers...but I do need to realize that they come from a completely different country and culture. It is something I need to work on for sure!

Anyways, after an exhausting week of Teacher Training the weekend came. On Saturday, I was invited by two of the KACCAD staff (Sam and Nick) to go to a Ugandan Introduction. It is like an Engagement party. It was really neat...we all got to dress up! They did not have a spare Gomez around (traditional wear for women) so I wore a nice dress. Anyways, at the Introduction (which was for the cousin of Nick) it was so nice! There are three sections. One for the Groom's family, one for the Bride's family and one for the rest of the people. We sat for about 5 hours because there is a long process where the Bride's side has to introduce one at a time all of the different family members (like all the sisters come out, then the brothers, the aunts, the parents, the grandparents, etc.) and then vice-versa. Then...the groom's family presents all of these gifts to the Bride's family and they open them all up. To top it off...it was all in Luganda (so I had no idea what they are saying most of the time). However, the ceremony was great becasue it gave me a real glimpse into the culture of Uganda and I got a free meal that was amazing!)

On Sunday, Amanda (the Peace Corps volunteer) took us volunteers out (Karoline, Stu and I) to Kampala for lunch. We met up for lunch at Garden City (the only mall in the entire city) with another Peace Corps volunteer (Jen). That was fun as it was a break away from all of the Uganda food we get at KACCAD (such as matooke: cooked yellow bananas, posho: white stuff that looks and tastes like plaster, g-nuts: purple nut sauce, beans, sometimes rice and cassava (hard to explain but kind of like a stick of plant like sugar cane but not sweet or tasty). The lunch was great...the only downside was that we were walking in the rain with no umbrellas for a good 1/2 hour and we were absolutely SOAKED and DRENCHED with rain by the time we got to lunch. I fell on my butt too on the side of the road...which made a few Ugandans laugh! It was all in good fun though!

After lunch, Karoline, Stu and I went to this traditional Uganda dance performance in Ntinda at the Entende Centre (don't know if I got the spelling right). Anyways, it was an awesome 3 hour performance and it only cost $10,000 shillings which is about $6.00 in the United States. I had a great time and took some video of it so I hope that it turned out great!

The weekend flew by though. On Monday (yesterday) KACCAD had our weekly staff meeting. It went great. It looks like I am going to be quite busy though. Karoline and Stu are leaving Uganda on Friday and therefore I will be on my own for about two weeks until two more volunteers arrive in the middle of June. It should be quite busy though. KACCAD is going to be hosting a huge project at Kikaaya College where we will be having a contest among the studetns to create the best design about HIV/AIDS prevention. The winner gets to help paint the mural as well as they will receive one semester of school fees paid for (which is about $90,000 shillings). The donation for this mural project came from Amanda's home town. It is going to be great fun but it will be a lot of work!

Yesterday, Amanda and I sat down and created a proposal for the project and we have started working on the budget. We are having a meeting with the Headmaster of the school tomorrow, once I finish a lesson with a Senior 2 class (14 year olds). I am excited because I will be leading the lesson on my own and will be able to work with this class on a weekly basis and will be able to incorporate my Leadership activities/disscussions with them! It should be good fun!

Life in Uganda is tiring though...it gets so hot under the mosquito nets and the power goes out ALL the time. It would be easier to just not have it. But...the squat toilets are not too bad...you just have to have a good aim! :)

I better go now! I miss you all and appreciate your patience. I hope to write much more frequently in the upcoming days!

Love you all! Webale (Thank You in Luganda)!

Beth :)

p.s. cool new words in Luganda I have learned:

Babirye - 1st born twin (my Ugandan name...they all love it!)
Nakato- 2nd born twin (so this is you Sarah)
Nalongo- Mom
Webale-Thank You
Jebale Ko- Thank You for the work you are doing
Olya- I eat
Geni-I am fine

Cool, no? PEACE!!!
Oli Otya- How are you?
Sula Bulungi- Good Night!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Getting used to life in Uganda :)


I want to let you all know that I am doing great! I am loving life here in Uganda. While the capitol city (Kampala) is CRAZY to say the least, life here in the village of Bulenga is nice and relaxing.

Kampala is INSANE. Karoline and Stuart took me out on Thursday night to do some shopping for the cutest puppy we got at KACCAD. Yes, I said a puppy for all of you non-believers. It is so cute and small. While out, we grabbed some spicy dinner at this local Indian place. On the way there, I rode my first "boda-boda"....which is where you sit on the back of a motorcycle thing and hold on for dear life while the driver weaves in and out of traffic. Oh and by the way of the THREE traffic lights in the city, one was stolen and two are broken....so imagine me on the back of a boda :) It was actually quite fun and I can't wait to go again! Karoline and I both road on the same one the first time!

Anyways, what is more scary than the boda-bodas are the taxis. There is the location called the New Taxi park where there are hundreds and hundreds of taxis waiting to take people to the surrouding villages and they are ALL jampacked and trying to maneuver inside the space of two tennis courts...it was INSANE. I am going to have to get used to that.

On Friday, I got to help with two HIV/AIDS presentations. In the morning we presented it to five local teenagers who are currently attending a seamstress school in Bulenga. They were really interactive and knew a lot. But in the afternoon, we walked about an HOUR down this red soil road (that can be found everywhere here) to this local boarding school. We actually gave our presentation under a tree to about 60 boys and girls...isn't that so cool? Some of the boys wanted my cell number, but I gave them my e-mail instead hahaha :)

This weekend, Karoline, Stu and I have been working with the Peace Corps Volunteer here (Amanda) for this HUGE Teacher Training Workshop we are hosting in Wakiso District all next week! I am so excited because we will be empowering the local teachers with knowledge about HIV/AIDS and how to prepare lesson plans, as well as encouraging them to lead lessons and activities that they can then take back into their classrooms! Neat, no?
I actually get to help run the program, so that will be great experience and an awesome way to kick off the summer. :)

Last night, it was fun because I was able to hang out with THREE Peace Corps volunteers (they all came over to visit Amanda). Erin and Sarah are really neat girls and are working with HIV/AIDS and children orphanages respectively. We actually made something like American food (tofu & veggie pasta) and for dessert "no bake cookies" which were pretty good even though they were made on the stove...we got imaginative!

However, it is so weird to get adjusted. The shower is basically a hose on the wall and while even though we have electricity the power goes out ALL THE TIME. It is hard at night especially....so that is hard. But, our flashlights are really handy! Well, going to go prepare and make more posters for our first day of teacher training!

Fun Facts:

*Ugandans are highly unemployed but they all get up at 5:00 a.m. and dress nice anyways even though they have no where to be (so they crowd the streets and it is very confusing).
*Ugandans LOVE to take their time (no one is in a hurry. if something is supposed to happen at 12:00...it won't happen until 3:00 p.m.) The only rush is when they get behind the wheel of a car (then all hell breaks loose!)
*The Uganda infrastructure is really poor (hard to keep everything updated and repair stuff like traffic lights).
*Whenever you see a group of local kids they run after you and scream..."See You Muzungu (white person). Then, I say back, "See You Muganda (Ugandan)...it gets quite old since it happens whenever I am out! Also, people stare like NO ELSE at white/non-Africans. Some think I am Japanese :)
*When Ugandans say you look "smart", it means "nice".

Before I forget, I was in the Bulenga Trading Center with Amanda (the Peace Corps Volunteer) and she was showing me around and an old woman who was selling matooke (this gross yellow eggplant like thing) asked Amanda, "How much" and pointed to me. She liked my skin color and wanted to keep me as a daughter...ha ha ha :) I got a good laugh out of that.

I am excited for the Teacher Training next week and also the HIV/AIDS home visits...as well as establishing the leadership seminars. I get to meet with a group of local political leaders as well as with youth in Bulenga. It is so neat that all the work we do at KACCAD is community outreach work.

That is all for now,

Beth :)

Friday, May 16, 2008

I have arrived in Uganda!

Just wanted to let you all know that I have arrived safely in Uganda! However, the flight over here was INSANE. From Gainesville to Atlanta, I was sitting right next to the toilets (fun..right?) Well it gets worse! When I arrived in Amsterdam from Atlanta, the plane just pulled to a stop and I did the unimaginable...my upset stomach from the gross airplane food made a statement. Yes, I threw up all over myself AND the poor guy sitting next to me. It was probably one of the most disgusting things EVER. Anyways, the airplane people helped me out and made a "fashionable" skirt out of the standard blankets they have on board. I had a 3 hour wait until the plane to Kampala, so I searched like crazy for an affordable skirt in the Amsterdam airport. Let me tell you right now that it is useless to look. The cheapest pants/skirts/shorts that I could find were $200 bucks...so I sucked it up and kept wearing my gross pants with the ridiculous skirt until I arrived in Uganda.

But...I got to Uganda at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 14th and I was picked up and taken to Entebbe Backpackers Hostel. Shalom, who is 21, and the son of the owner of the hostel was a really great guy to meet on my first day in Uganda! He tried to point out a bit in the dark, but I was more concerned with getting some sleep! I took a shower (yes, they even had hot water with a water heater) and fell asleep for the first time under a mosquito net (how neat!!!).

At the hostel, I met some really cool other backpackers. I hit it off with two women from Norway. One had spent the last 10 months in the Congo working at a Chimpanzee sanctuary and the other had spent 4 months in the Congo too. They were really neat and were great to talk to while I waited for Paul (the program coordinator of The Real Uganda) to pick me up.

Paul picked me up around 10:00 a.m. and we headed straight for Kampala to change some money and to get some lunch. It is about 1680 Ugandan shillings=$1 US dollar. I don't know if that helps. Anyways, Paul thought it would be fun to take me to an "American" place to eat so we went to this place if you can believe it called "NYC Pizza"....it didn't really taste like pizza but it was a good try. :)

After that, Paul dropped me off in Bulenga (the village where I am at) and left me at KACCAD. There are two volunteers here from Canada (Karoline and Stuart) and they have been here for two weeks but are sadly leaving in 2 weeks. They have been showing me the ropes around here! We went into Kampala (which is CRAZY, you just have to experience the insane amount of people packed in to one busy city).

Yikes, I have to go because the internet is going crazy (which makes sense as I am in a village in Africa) but I will finish this story hopefully tomorrow!

Peace and Love,

Beth :)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Uganda? That's right!

Howdy family & friends!

I know that many of you are probably wondering what on earth I will be doing in Uganda this summer....right? Well, let me tell you! Due to the generous support from The Center for Leadership and Civic Education at Florida State University, I have won a scholarship through the Serviceship program that has funded my entire summer of service!

I will be volunteering in Uganda for 8 weeks, from May 15th – July 15th, 2008. I will be serving in the village of Bulenga, Uganda in a village program that is called Kyosiga Community Christian Association for Development (KACCAD). This village program was established in 1994 and is a community based youth program of The Real Uganda. KACCAD was founded to improve the standard of living in Bulenga through supporting income generating activities, skill development, youth education and health care access.

However, KACCAD is especially committed to empowering orphans and vulnerable children, women, children from child-headed households, people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, single mothers and people with disabilities. As a volunteer, I will be able to delve into such volunteer activities as:
  • Community mobilization for HIV/AIDS testing/education
  • Tailoring training to out of school youth
  • Typing and computer skills
  • Setting up Databases
  • Tutoring children in reading and writing in English
  • Training in safe motherhood skills
  • Education of birth control and reproductive health education
  • Establishing Leadership workshops/seminars

Now, just in case you were wondering, here is a bit more information on Uganda...

If you look at the map at the top of the page, you can find where I will be staying within Uganda. I am going to be living and learning in a village called Bulenga. This village is 15-20 minutes by bus to the west of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. So...if you look at the map it is in the pink district of Wakiso.

It is also neat to realize where exactly Uganda is in East Africa. It is bordered by Sudan to the north, Kenya to the east, Tanzania and Rwanda to the south, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west.

And in case you did not know...Uganda is among the poorest countries in the world with a per capita GDP of around USD$280 (1999). It has the smallest economy (6.1 billion - 1999 EIU estimate) of the three members of the East African Cooperation (EAC) - Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The relatively small domestic market and low purchasing power of most of the population will limit growth for some time to come. Current regional conflicts also prevent the development of export markets. Uganda's aspiration to become a regional hub for finance and trade is unlikely to be realised until export markets are better developed.

Oh, and before I go, the two languages of Uganda that I will confront are Luganda and English. While many locals speak English, it is almost always broken and spoken with a heavy English accent (so it is going to be a big challenge)! If you want to practice with me...look below:


Jebale ko - well done (used as a short greeting)
Kale, nawe jebale ko - ok (response to jebale ko)

Oli otya - how are you?
Wasuze otya nno - how was the night? (morning greeting)
Osiibye otya nno - how is/was the day? (afternoon/evening greeting)
Gendi - fine
Bulungi - good/well

Mulimutya - how are you? (to a group of people)
Jetuuli - we are fine

Kyi kyi - what's up? (pronounced "chi chi")
Eh Banange! - My friends! (used like "for heaven's sake")

Sula bulungi - good night
Weraba - good-bye

Nnyo - very (as in "bulungi nnyo")

Webale (nnyo) - thank you (very much)

Wange - pardon me?

Ye - yes Nedda - no

Ssebo - sir
Nnyabo - madam
Mukwano - friend

Sente meka - how much is that?
Mas ow - stop (used to stop public transport when you want out)
Wano - here (used to stop boda boda transport)
Wali - over there
Wansi - down
Wa gulu - up

*Much of this information came from my volunteer program guide from Global Volunteer Network, the international organization that places volunteers with The Real Uganda (and therefore KACCAD).

Thanks for reading my first post! I leave for Uganda on Tuesday, May 13th (which is 8 days)!

Peace & Love,

Beth :)