Vacation(?) time in Uganda

Mulembe (lugisu for hello) from Uganda! I've been president for only a few weeks now and am already late when it comes to replying to emails. Turns out it's hard to go online without electricity.

I'm currently in Uganda with Oxford Develpoment Abroad. We've been here for 4 weeks now, and have 4 more weeks to go. I feel like I've entered a completely different world. There is no electricity or running water and the roads are very adventurous. People (including us) travel on small motorbikes, where they manage to fit 4 people on and no one would ever wear a helmet... Despite studying in Oxford, we had to learn that we are absolutely useless when it comes to anything practical. Our neighbour's children have to help us light our stove for cooking, we managed to all get sick from undercooked beans that we made for dinner and I cut my legs open on a fence, while the children are happy to run around without shoes or long trousers.

Ten year old children are better in carrying water than we are and I've seen toddlers handling the massive knifes they are using here more skillfully than I ever could. It's shocking how lost we are without supplies like electricity. That is not to say that we're not doing a lot of work here. We're teaching about sanitation in the primary school of our village, which is really difficult, because although the children are supposed to speak English, most of them don't.

We also started building a water tank for the school and are building fuel efficient stoves for the community. As much as we can't handle anything practical, we seem to be great at organization and punctuality. 'African time' means that most people, even the teachers at school, come at least half an hour late. Although the secretary replied "we shall arrange" to my continuing requests for a community meeting, still no meeting has been arranged and it's quite hard to get hold of our head mistress at the school. We are supposed to set up three committees for stoves, the water tank and a water source here and I somehow feel that our JCR committee work is really easy compared to this task.

One thing that we have learned here is that we never want to be famous. Wherever we go, children are following us. People shout the lugisu word for "white person" whenever they see us and find everything we do, even washing up, really exciting. We can't sit down anywhere at school without a big crowd of children around us and everyone knows our names, even though we haven't been introduced to them. I'm very much looking forward to hot showers, a proper kitchen and a normal amount of attention next term!

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