Sunday, October 24, 2010

Much crying

Here is why:

1. Remembering good times at Lauren's expense. As you all know, laughing makes me tear up.
2. It was time for the dreads to go. These were silent weeps.
3. Brushing out my hair was the most pain I have experienced in a long time. As it turns out, my hair was on the verge of forming into dread locks on its own. So much for the whole yarn idea.





Before the process began.

Sophie and Lauren were kind enough to spend 2 1/2 hours taking out the yarn in my hair and unbraiding it.

Pile of yarn. No wonder my hair was so heavy.
I can finally scratch my head again.

After nearly 4 hours of brushing my hair, I finally got all the little tangles and mini dreads out. I lost nearly half of my hair. I filled several garbage cans throughout the house with my stray hairs. My hair is considerably thinner than it used to be. Now, I actually have to do my hair. Currently, it is in my face and causing trouble.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nearing the end

The school classrooms are done and look amazing! It is hard work building a decent sized building in a third world country without power tools. The workers were very impressed that a mzungu woman knew how to work. They all immediately had to know my name and if I was married or not.
The garden project has come to an end. We planted another nursery garden in Kikikanya. The people there are so wonderful. I couldn't think of a more deserving group. All the woman were very welcoming and out going. Apparently, I kept getting my skirt dirty from working in the dirt. Every time I would hold still for just a few seconds, a couple of women would come up and start brushing the dirt off of me. I think their favorite area to clean was my butt. Anyways, the garden looks great!
We finally finished all the field world for the HIV research. Oh my that was exhausting. We went to a few worker's camps for the sugar cane fields and everyone there spoke Swahili. That was kind of a big obstacle. We also went to a very remote rural village called Kisasi. At one point, we actually stopped hiking through the bush to get to from house to house because everyone came to us. They all had to see the bzungu that had come to their village. They had never had white people there before. Right now, we are just analyzing the data and compiling it into a report. We have been doing this for the past 8 days. Each day we spend at least 10 hrs working on the project. There is so much information that it is overwhelming. We are hoping to have everything done by tomorrow.
Several volunteers have left this last week so there are only 9 of us left. The house is very empty. We have started washing the walls and cleaning the rest of the house in preparation of moving out in a few days. This is just adding to the stress of trying to finish up all the projects. All the Ugandans seem to know when we are leaving already even though we haven't told them. As we walk through the streets, everyone comes up to us, whether we know them or not, and asks for our clothes, shoes, bags, and other belongings. Many of these people even have money. They are well to do in this society. It is getting kind of old. I do intend on giving away my clothes or just throwing them away because they are so beat up and torn already, but it is frustrating to have people do this to me. If anything, they will go to those who really need it. Well family, I will be home in less than a week. I really do not want to leave, but then again I am also excited for a new chapter in my life. I actually am looking forward to going back to school.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sprained ankle, Rwanda, and school house

A little over a week ago, I couldn’t help myself and I sprained my ankle while playing football with kids at an orphanage. Who knew that there was a giant pothole in the middle of the field? Good news, I still managed to steal the ball and prevent a goal. All the kids cheered and gave me high fives while I laid in my hole in pain. Immediately, the next morning we left for Kampala to hop on a bus to Rwanda. Sprained ankle and all, I hobbled around Kampala and Garden City (the equivalent of an American Shopping Mall) to pass the time. As it turned out, our bus left at 9 pm, not in the early afternoon as we thought. We ate real American food and watched Toy Story 3. At the end of the day, we say through a window a rap music video being shot. We were laughing and taking pictures. They were staring and waving at the crazy bzungu through the window. We danced a little for them and they mouthed to us to come around to the hotel. We figured that we had some time so we did. As it turns out, the singer was Bebe Cool. He is one of the most famous Ugandan singers. He complimented us on our dancing and said that it is his tribe’s dance. I guess our dancing lessons finally paid off. We took pictures with him and met his wife and kid. He wanted us to be in his music videos, but we had to speed off to catch our bus. The boda ride to the bus was terrifying. Traffic in Kampala is terrible during the day, but at night it is even worst. Since I was on a boda, we were able to maneuver our way through the city. The bus station was on the other side of the city. Most of the way we drove on sidewalks and hoped that pedestrians would move. Pedestrians were jumping out into the street to avoid being hit. We also drove straight into oncoming traffic. One of our mirrors broke off as he drove in between cars. At first, I had my bag on my back, but I moved it to the side because people were touching it. As we squeezed between cars, there wasn’t enough room for it so I had to hold it above my head. My knees got scrapped up and bruised pretty badly from being knocked into cars. It was really touch and go there for a while. I was a little surprised to still be alive at the end of the ride.
The 8-9 hour bus ride to Rwanda easily shaved several years off of my life. The worst part was trying to cross the border into Rwanda. It was about 2 or 3 in the morning and our driver kicked everyone off the bus and took off. We could hardly see a few feet in front of us because it was so foggy. I had African everywhere trying to steal my passport as I filled out an exit form for Uganda. Afterwards, we all walked aimlessly through the fog hoping to find our bus. After about 300 yards or so, I hobbled right into several military men with AK-47s. We stood in line waiting for our bags to be checked by these men. The African were pushing and yelling at each other in foreign languages. I felt hands touching my bag and trying to pry it open. I was sure that something was horribly wrong because of the way that they were acting. I thought that an army was after us and that we were all going to die. Eventually, we made it past the armed guards and found our bus. I never thought that I would feel so safe on that bus especially after how terrible the ride to the border was. The bus driver had thrown all the bags off of the bus and was searching them. I have never been in such a scary situation in my life.
Rwanda. What a wonderful place. The city of Kigali was so much cleaner than Kampala. Of course, it had its slums but it was very different than what I am used to. The people were clean and well educated. Also, cars actually obeyed the laws of the road. Boda drivers had nicer motorcycles, they and their passengers wore helmets, and only took one passenger at a time. The whole area reminded me so much of America. I don’t know if it has always been like this or if so much foreign aid has been given that it helped to rebuild the city. While there, we visited the genocide memorial. During 1994, 1 million Tutsis and Hutu moderates were murdered. At this memorial, we visited a mass grave containing 250,000 bodies. It surprises me that something like this could happen here. We imagine that genocides can only occur in “primitive” or third world countries. As Rwanda and the holocaust have proven, they can happen anywhere. After the memorial, we went to the Milles Colline. This is the hotel from the movie Hotel Rwanda. We ate dinner there and had a very deep conversation about the genocide. Our trip to Rwanda was wonderful, but we did not stay for long because we have so much work to do in Lugazi. I actually missed Uganda dearly. Rwanda was a fun escape, but I love the craziness of Uganda too much. It has become my home.
Since we have been back, we have made great strides in our research. We are going out to villages and schools to interview people. While we are at schools, we also sensitize about HIV/AIDS. We are slowly working on the gardens. It has been difficult to find spare time in the day to devote to gardens. On Monday, we will be planting a large nursery garden for an HIV group in Lugasa. I love working with this group. All of the members are such hard workers and an inspiration to me. We also want to create gardens for the Seeya school. This school is located in the middle of the sugar cane fields. It has a patchy grass roof and no walls. The school is barely scrapping by to educate the poorest of children in the area. Hand washing stations have really taken off. We are building at least 2 everyday this week. Today, we started construction on the Ssanyu school. We are still $500 short but we decided to start the classrooms anyways. I was helping to knock down old brick walls and to lay new ones. Also, I got to help make the cement and cut rebar. I had a lunch meeting today and our partners laughed as I limped in covered in cement, mud, and dust. I apologized for my messiness, but they just gave me a big hug and thanked me for all my hard work in the area.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ssanyu school

When we think of Africa most of our thoughts are drawn toward children with pot bellies, flies and extreme poverty. Although we cannot discount the level of suffering, many people in Uganda have refused to become victims of their circumstances. Hard work, prayers, and tears, have inspired many to rise above their situations and make their dreams a reality.

Francis and Ssanyu are a local Ugandan couple who have taken up the fight to better their lives and the lives of hundreds of children and families in the Lugazi community; including our 2010 HELP-International Lugazi, Uganda team of volunteers. HELP-International is a non-profit organization based in Provo, Utah that is currently involved with development work in six different countries. Each country is equipped with a team of unique and motivated volunteers committed to creating and providing sustainable projects to aid in the fight against poverty and to make a lasting difference. The organization works with local community leaders in each location to ensure sustainability and see that the needs of every community are fulfilled in an empowering way. Francis and Ssanyu are two such committed and devoted people with the vision of creating a better Lugazi and a better Uganda for generations to come.

Ssanyu Nursery and Primary School is located deep in the lush rolling hills of Lugazi, Uganda. It functions as a private school that closely follows the national curriculum and is home to 187 African children between the ages of 2-15. The School stands proudly in the community as a constant reminder to all that dreams do come true.

From a young age Madam Ssanyu never knew her father and was asked to take on the roll of trying to generate income for her family by working alongside her weak elderly mother at a local sugar factory. The combined wages were still not enough to be able to afford the 12 year-old girl’s school fees and she was forced to drop out of school in order to work. The following year Ssanyu would lose her mother and become an orphan at the tender young age of 13. Having only completed the equivalency of 5th or 6th grade, Ssanyu would spend the next 5 years of her life going door to door begging relatives for the amount that you or I would spend on a movie ticket to pay for each term of her schooling. When money was tight among her extended relatives, this young teenager found herself tossed between homes working months at a time as a house girl to try to save money, being scooped up by the generosity of church and other organization members and hidden by some of the kind-hearted teachers and money collectors of her school to help her avoid her tuition payments.

Despite almost giving up hope to continue her schooling, Ssanyu fought desperately every school term for her right to an education. Even from a young age, this woman knew and cherished the value of knowledge and learning.

“I knew the best thing was to go to school” she said.

Ssanyu faced each day with a young heart of courage and determination. This positive outlook carried her through many dark and despairing times including putting up with the culturally tolerated physical abuse inside the classroom.

“One of the teachers would beat me in the head” shared Ssanyu, “I made a promise to God that if He helps me and I get money I will make a school and these things will not be involved in my school”.

At the age of 16 a family friend who also happened to be a headmaster of a school expressed his interest in opening a sister school to the one that he was currently operating.

“He asked me what I enjoy doing” said Ssanyu, “I told him that I taught the bible to children in Sunday School at church and then he asked me if I would like to teach in his school”.

Ssanyu was then employed as a nursery teacher at Katosi Community School in her mid-teens. Three years into her teaching career, Ssanyu was reconnected with a Scandinavian organization from her youth that had previously helped to put her through one year of primary schooling. The organization invited her to join their two-year nursery skills training course that provided certification upon graduation. The offer was accepted and during that time Ssanyu married her life-long companion Francis. The two first met at church and Francis observed her character and commitment toward the children, especially the vulnerable ones.

“I knew at that moment that I could not make it in this life without her” recalled Francis, who would later earn the well respected title of 'Pastor' within the Lugazi community.

The couple began their incredible journey shortly after with some advice from a colleague at a Nursery Skills Center that Ssanyu worked at post-graduation, she and Francis began their own school: Ssanyu Nursery and Primary School.

“Through some kind people I was able to be pushed and go to a training. It was as if God was confirming what was in my heart. I told the nursery skills director that this was my desire also” she said referring to creating their own school, “and I prayed for the funds and that is how we began”.

The Ssanyu Nursery and Primary School began eight years ago with only 7 students. Throughout the course of the next 5 years, the number of students grew exponentially reaching well over 100 children and the couple accommodated by using 4 rooms of their rented personal residence as classrooms. The reputation of the way that the school lovingly and respectfully handled their children spread quickly throughout the community and they began to receive difficult cases of children. Children who were incapable of paying tuition, victims of retarded mental growth, def children, and children who were not able to keep up with the teaching speed, were among those that were sent to Ssanyu School.


“When we get new teachers we tell them they are parents to the children and that any form of physical or emotional abuse will not be tolerated here” said Ssanyu.

"We want to create an environment that favors progress” Francis added passionately, “Our challenge is to remove the strong-hold of individualistic tendencies and teach children that they share the same blood, to encourage each other to succeed and that we are all brothers and sisters”.


As the number of children and staff at the school continued to increase and the children among the influx that could afford to pay tuition decreased, the school fell financially to the point where it almost couldn’t sustain itself.

“We just kept moving and praying to God” shared Francis.

After 5 straining but successful years of running the school, the couple received notice from their landlord that that they had only 3 months to pack up and leave the property. After many prayers Francis and Ssanyu found a willing friend who owned some land and a family member to loan them some money to begin construction on a permanent school building for their students.

“The walls were easy to construct because of the cost of the bricks” said Francis, “But the roof was difficult to get”.

The school began hosting classes with only four walls and a partially completed roof. The incomplete structure provoked laughs and scorns from their fellow community members.

“We questioned whether or not to move on” shared the couple, “but the parents of our students still trusted us because of the way that we believe in respectfully handling and instilling values within the children”.

“What sets this school apart” continued Francis, “is the focus of the holistic development of the person. Many schools focus on academic excellence and that is very good, but the focus here is the child. This mentality is not a big or popular industry, but we believe that holistic development instills moral value within the child, gains the trust of the community and deeply roots within the child social principles that will allow them to contribute positively to our community in the future. We earn that trust because of our good reputation of child development and that is why Ssanyu School is different”.

With the little money that had come from those children who could afford to pay school fees and with what the couple was able to save, the school now has five classrooms, 187 students and 11 teachers. School fees at Ssanyu school range from $12 to $20 dollars depending upon the cost of books, uniforms and those that can afford to pay the extra $3 for one cup of porridge each school day. Of the 187 enrolled students, only about 80-90 of them are able to pay for their schooling expenses and even less can afford to eat daily.

Unlike the educational systems in Canada or America, the children here remain in school for up to 8 or 9 hours; that is a long time for any child, not to mention a child who cannot afford to eat.

Francis and Ssanyu have committed even more of their meager funds in an effort to feed everyone and supply each child with a cup of porridge daily.

“Whether they pay or not we are now trying to give all of them porridge” said Ssanyu, “before, only 30 children were able to take porridge. The nursery children would cry for food, so we recently decided within the past two weeks to allocate some more of our funds to buy more porridge and feed all of the children and trust God that we will find the needed money elsewhere. Finances are a challenge, but we have the heart here and we fight differently.”

The teachers and staff at Ssanyu Nursery and Primary School fight differently indeed, they fight selflessly. The average wage for a teacher in Uganda for one month is about 150,000 shillings or approximately $75. After each of the able children at Ssanyu School have paid their term fees, the school operates all of its expenses on that money, which leaves less than a quarter of the average wage for their teachers. The teachers at Ssanyu School support their families from month to month with only $15 instead of the $75 that they should be receiving.

“We have lost good teachers because they fear the financial situation; they move to better schools. You can only retain those who understand and appreciate the situation and understand God” explained Francis.

“As this term is ending it looks the same” added Ssanyu, “We will explain the situation to the teachers and ask them to trust God on this faith journey. Sometimes I’ll even leave the receipts on the desk so they can see”.

That is the very reason that Ssanyu Nursery and Primary School is filled with such loving and caring mentors and teachers. The continued selfless sacrifice and common vision of working together to develop one another and ensure another’s success has blessed hundreds.





The care and concern that the couple shares for each one of their students is overwhelming and admirable. Three enrolled children that come from broken families and tough backgrounds have been offered a home with Francis and Ssanyu.

“They were each in their last year of primary school and candidates for national exams” explained Francis, “they were all victims of a bad environment that was not conducive to their studies”.

One of the teenage girls staying with Francis and Ssanyu saw her parents divorced, her mother leave her to move to another district and her father jobless with no place to call home. The directors of the school are not naive to the hundreds of other children who fight for their right to education and their life daily. They have opened their home to a few cases, but take it upon themselves to voluntarily correct the root of the problem. Francis has designated time outside of his roles as a Pastor, School Director, community leader, father and husband to create a curriculum encompassing integrity and servitude-leadership. He is currently working with local police officers, town council members and other high ranking members of the community to progress unity, morals and ethics.

“The gap between the rich and the poor is ever increasing” explained Francis, “It is a very complicated dilemma. Here, democracy means getting ahead at any expense… usually it is at the expense of marginalized populations such as the youth and widows. We need to work together to develop our town; it is about our community and its well-being, not who is in what position”.

The story of Francis and Ssanyu continues to grow. Each day is a new day to accomplish new things and rest assured many things are accomplished every day through the hands of these exemplary people.

Among the several projects that the two Ugandans have undertaken to accomplish, building and completing the additional two classrooms for Ssanyu School ranks high on the list. The foundations of the classrooms were laid almost two years ago and have remained waist-high for a long length of time due to a lack of funding.

“I have been slowly collecting bricks for the past two years” shared Francis, “Every time I have an extra hundred shillings (approximate equivalency of 0.05 cents) that I can spare, I purchase a brick and add it to the collection”.

The two-year heap now totals over 3,000 bricks; however it still falls short. The bricks need to be supplemented by over a third and the costs of cement, rebar, timber, nails, doors, locks, delivery, labour etc. have not yet been factored into the equation. These two rooms will serve as classrooms during the daytime hours and Francis has agreed to open the space to disabled members of the community as a meeting place for them during the evening hours. Selected members of families who are struggling to pay school fees will train alongside the hired labourers to gain a marketable skill and be linked to local businesses. In return for their work, the School has agreed to forgive the related children’s tuition fees and encouragement to develop their newly found skill into profit for their family and future expenses.




As someone who shares an interest in promoting education and enriching lives, the invitation is extended to all whom this article is able to reach to see how simple projects, things that are often take for granted in our world, can inspire hope and transform lives. This story acts as a voice of hope for those who don't have the ability to speak. Join HELP-International and our team of volunteers in Lugazi, Uganda this summer and give the gift of education and community support to hundreds of children and families. Donations can be mailed directly to HELP-International (363 N. University Ave. #110, Provo UT 84601) or through PayPal online at: http://help-international.org/donors.html, including “Ssanyu School, Uganda.” in the comments section.


When we think of Africa most of our thoughts are drawn toward children with pot bellies, flies and extreme poverty. Although we cannot discount the level of suffering, many people in Uganda have refused to become victims of their circumstances. Hard work, prayers, and tears, have inspired many to rise above their situations and make their dreams a reality.

Francis and Ssanyu are a local Ugandan couple who have taken up the fight to better their lives and the lives of hundreds of children and families in the Lugazi community; including our 2010 HELP-International Lugazi, Uganda team of volunteers. HELP-International is a non-profit organization based in Provo, Utah that is currently involved with development work in six different countries. Each country is equipped with a team of unique and motivated volunteers committed to creating and providing sustainable projects to aid in the fight against poverty and to make a lasting difference. The organization works with local community leaders in each location to ensure sustainability and see that the needs of every community are fulfilled in an empowering way. Francis and Ssanyu are two such committed and devoted people with the vision of creating a better Lugazi and a better Uganda for generations to come.

Ssanyu Nursery and Primary School is located deep in the lush rolling hills of Lugazi, Uganda. It functions as a private school that closely follows the national curriculum and is home to 187 African children between the ages of 2-15. The School stands proudly in the community as a constant reminder to all that dreams do come true.

From a young age Madam Ssanyu never knew her father and was asked to take on the roll of trying to generate income for her family by working alongside her weak elderly mother at a local sugar factory. The combined wages were still not enough to be able to afford the 12 year-old girl’s school fees and she was forced to drop out of school in order to work. The following year Ssanyu would lose her mother and become an orphan at the tender young age of 13. Having only completed the equivalency of 5th or 6th grade, Ssanyu would spend the next 5 years of her life going door to door begging relatives for the amount that you or I would spend on a movie ticket to pay for each term of her schooling. When money was tight among her extended relatives, this young teenager found herself tossed between homes working months at a time as a house girl to try to save money, being scooped up by the generosity of church and other organization members and hidden by some of the kind-hearted teachers and money collectors of her school to help her avoid her tuition payments.

Despite almost giving up hope to continue her schooling, Ssanyu fought desperately every school term for her right to an education. Even from a young age, this woman knew and cherished the value of knowledge and learning.

“I knew the best thing was to go to school” she said.

Ssanyu faced each day with a young heart of courage and determination. This positive outlook carried her through many dark and despairing times including putting up with the culturally tolerated physical abuse inside the classroom.

“One of the teachers would beat me in the head” shared Ssanyu, “I made a promise to God that if He helps me and I get money I will make a school and these things will not be involved in my school”.

At the age of 16 a family friend who also happened to be a headmaster of a school expressed his interest in opening a sister school to the one that he was currently operating.

“He asked me what I enjoy doing” said Ssanyu, “I told him that I taught the bible to children in Sunday School at church and then he asked me if I would like to teach in his school”.

Ssanyu was then employed as a nursery teacher at Katosi Community School in her mid-teens. Three years into her teaching career, Ssanyu was reconnected with a Scandinavian organization from her youth that had previously helped to put her through one year of primary schooling. The organization invited her to join their two-year nursery skills training course that provided certification upon graduation. The offer was accepted and during that time Ssanyu married her life-long companion Francis. The two first met at church and Francis observed her character and commitment toward the children, especially the vulnerable ones.

“I knew at that moment that I could not make it in this life without her” recalled Francis, who would later earn the well respected title of 'Pastor' within the Lugazi community.

The couple began their incredible journey shortly after with some advice from a colleague at a Nursery Skills Center that Ssanyu worked at post-graduation, she and Francis began their own school: Ssanyu Nursery and Primary School.

“Through some kind people I was able to be pushed and go to a training. It was as if God was confirming what was in my heart. I told the nursery skills director that this was my desire also” she said referring to creating their own school, “and I prayed for the funds and that is how we began”.

The Ssanyu Nursery and Primary School began eight years ago with only 7 students. Throughout the course of the next 5 years, the number of students grew exponentially reaching well over 100 children and the couple accommodated by using 4 rooms of their rented personal residence as classrooms. The reputation of the way that the school lovingly and respectfully handled their children spread quickly throughout the community and they began to receive difficult cases of children. Children who were incapable of paying tuition, victims of retarded mental growth, def children, and children who were not able to keep up with the teaching speed, were among those that were sent to Ssanyu School.


“When we get new teachers we tell them they are parents to the children and that any form of physical or emotional abuse will not be tolerated here” said Ssanyu.

"We want to create an environment that favors progress” Francis added passionately, “Our challenge is to remove the strong-hold of individualistic tendencies and teach children that they share the same blood, to encourage each other to succeed and that we are all brothers and sisters”.


As the number of children and staff at the school continued to increase and the children among the influx that could afford to pay tuition decreased, the school fell financially to the point where it almost couldn’t sustain itself.

“We just kept moving and praying to God” shared Francis.

After 5 straining but successful years of running the school, the couple received notice from their landlord that that they had only 3 months to pack up and leave the property. After many prayers Francis and Ssanyu found a willing friend who owned some land and a family member to loan them some money to begin construction on a permanent school building for their students.

“The walls were easy to construct because of the cost of the bricks” said Francis, “But the roof was difficult to get”.

The school began hosting classes with only four walls and a partially completed roof. The incomplete structure provoked laughs and scorns from their fellow community members.

“We questioned whether or not to move on” shared the couple, “but the parents of our students still trusted us because of the way that we believe in respectfully handling and instilling values within the children”.

“What sets this school apart” continued Francis, “is the focus of the holistic development of the person. Many schools focus on academic excellence and that is very good, but the focus here is the child. This mentality is not a big or popular industry, but we believe that holistic development instills moral value within the child, gains the trust of the community and deeply roots within the child social principles that will allow them to contribute positively to our community in the future. We earn that trust because of our good reputation of child development and that is why Ssanyu School is different”.

With the little money that had come from those children who could afford to pay school fees and with what the couple was able to save, the school now has five classrooms, 187 students and 11 teachers. School fees at Ssanyu school range from $12 to $20 dollars depending upon the cost of books, uniforms and those that can afford to pay the extra $3 for one cup of porridge each school day. Of the 187 enrolled students, only about 80-90 of them are able to pay for their schooling expenses and even less can afford to eat daily.

Unlike the educational systems in Canada or America, the children here remain in school for up to 8 or 9 hours; that is a long time for any child, not to mention a child who cannot afford to eat.

Francis and Ssanyu have committed even more of their meager funds in an effort to feed everyone and supply each child with a cup of porridge daily.

“Whether they pay or not we are now trying to give all of them porridge” said Ssanyu, “before, only 30 children were able to take porridge. The nursery children would cry for food, so we recently decided within the past two weeks to allocate some more of our funds to buy more porridge and feed all of the children and trust God that we will find the needed money elsewhere. Finances are a challenge, but we have the heart here and we fight differently.”

The teachers and staff at Ssanyu Nursery and Primary School fight differently indeed, they fight selflessly. The average wage for a teacher in Uganda for one month is about 150,000 shillings or approximately $75. After each of the able children at Ssanyu School have paid their term fees, the school operates all of its expenses on that money, which leaves less than a quarter of the average wage for their teachers. The teachers at Ssanyu School support their families from month to month with only $15 instead of the $75 that they should be receiving.

“We have lost good teachers because they fear the financial situation; they move to better schools. You can only retain those who understand and appreciate the situation and understand God” explained Francis.

“As this term is ending it looks the same” added Ssanyu, “We will explain the situation to the teachers and ask them to trust God on this faith journey. Sometimes I’ll even leave the receipts on the desk so they can see”.

That is the very reason that Ssanyu Nursery and Primary School is filled with such loving and caring mentors and teachers. The continued selfless sacrifice and common vision of working together to develop one another and ensure another’s success has blessed hundreds.





The care and concern that the couple shares for each one of their students is overwhelming and admirable. Three enrolled children that come from broken families and tough backgrounds have been offered a home with Francis and Ssanyu.

“They were each in their last year of primary school and candidates for national exams” explained Francis, “they were all victims of a bad environment that was not conducive to their studies”.

One of the teenage girls staying with Francis and Ssanyu saw her parents divorced, her mother leave her to move to another district and her father jobless with no place to call home. The directors of the school are not naive to the hundreds of other children who fight for their right to education and their life daily. They have opened their home to a few cases, but take it upon themselves to voluntarily correct the root of the problem. Francis has designated time outside of his roles as a Pastor, School Director, community leader, father and husband to create a curriculum encompassing integrity and servitude-leadership. He is currently working with local police officers, town council members and other high ranking members of the community to progress unity, morals and ethics.

“The gap between the rich and the poor is ever increasing” explained Francis, “It is a very complicated dilemma. Here, democracy means getting ahead at any expense… usually it is at the expense of marginalized populations such as the youth and widows. We need to work together to develop our town; it is about our community and its well-being, not who is in what position”.

The story of Francis and Ssanyu continues to grow. Each day is a new day to accomplish new things and rest assured many things are accomplished every day through the hands of these exemplary people.

Among the several projects that the two Ugandans have undertaken to accomplish, building and completing the additional two classrooms for Ssanyu School ranks high on the list. The foundations of the classrooms were laid almost two years ago and have remained waist-high for a long length of time due to a lack of funding.

“I have been slowly collecting bricks for the past two years” shared Francis, “Every time I have an extra hundred shillings (approximate equivalency of 0.05 cents) that I can spare, I purchase a brick and add it to the collection”.

The two-year heap now totals over 3,000 bricks; however it still falls short. The bricks need to be supplemented by over a third and the costs of cement, rebar, timber, nails, doors, locks, delivery, labour etc. have not yet been factored into the equation. These two rooms will serve as classrooms during the daytime hours and Francis has agreed to open the space to disabled members of the community as a meeting place for them during the evening hours. Selected members of families who are struggling to pay school fees will train alongside the hired labourers to gain a marketable skill and be linked to local businesses. In return for their work, the School has agreed to forgive the related children’s tuition fees and encouragement to develop their newly found skill into profit for their family and future expenses.




As someone who shares an interest in promoting education and enriching lives, the invitation is extended to all whom this article is able to reach to see how simple projects, things that are often take for granted in our world, can inspire hope and transform lives. This story acts as a voice of hope for those who don't have the ability to speak. Join HELP-International and our team of volunteers in Lugazi, Uganda this summer and give the gift of education and community support to hundreds of children and families. Donations can be mailed directly to HELP-International (363 N. University Ave. #110, Provo UT 84601) or through PayPal online at: http://help-international.org/donors.html, including “Ssanyu School, Uganda.” in the comments section.


church

I have always been really impressed with the members here, but this last sunday was quite funny. We had an older sister stand up and lay down the law on modesty. She said, "if you wear mini skirts in Kampala you WILL get raped! It has happened before and it will happen again. Also, if you wear balance (baggy pants hanging off of your butt) the homosexuals will be turned on will come after you!" My whole team looked around at each other and had to bury our heads in our hands to stifle the laughter. As a whole, Ugandans are very frank and straight forward, but to bring up topics about homosexuality and raping is very taboo. Currently, the government is debating over a law to punish homosexuality by death. Every week church never ceases to put a smile on my face.

So much is happening

Despite the bombs and threat of more bombings, we were able to resume with eye camp. We went to three different hospitals; naggalama, nkokonjeru, and kawolo. What an amazing experience! At these camps we gave out 600 spectacles, screened nearly 2,000 people, and preformed 137 cataract surgeries. I can now recognize and diagnose a cataract and conduct a vision test. The people who received surgery were so grateful to be able to see again. Many have not had vision for 20-50 years due to the cataracts. After we would pull off the bandages, we would hold up fingers and have them count. Some laughed and cried that they were able to see movement let alone our fingers at a distance. One lady started giggling because she didn't realize that I was a muzungu until she could finally see again, surprise. My favorite hospital was nkokonjeru. It is a catholic hospital so I got to hang out and talk with nuns for two days straight. They are such humble and wise women.
Since eye camp, 2nd wave people have left and the 3rd wave has come in. We lost 13 people to 2nd wave and received 3 for 3rd wave. Currently, there are 12 people in the house. It is so nice and quite, but I do miss many of the people that left. We have resumed the HIV research. We are actually going to a secondary school today to hand out questionnaires to the students. I have been left in charge of the gardens for the rest of the summer. Last week, Clara and I went to buikwe to build a nursery garden there. On our way there, our boda driver tried to over charge us, but we wouldn't let him. He was angry so he hit every pot hole and probably created permanent damage on my tail bone since I was sitting on the metal luggage rack on the back. He also drove under low hanging trees and would duck at the last second so Clara would get whacked in the face. Finally, we reached Buikwe and met our partner Paul at his office. He assured us that the garden plot was just around the corner. After about an hour of hiking up a mountain in the bush we finally found the plot, which was located far outside the town's borders. It was taking so long that Clara and I played roadtrip games on the way there. We successfully assembled the garden and as a token of the women's appreciation they grabbed their machete and cut us down a 7 or 8 foot stalk of sugar cane. We wanted to share it with them, but they wouldn't take it. We had to haul the whole thing home on our boda so that they wouldn't be offended. As we were driving on the boda, we were trying our best not to clothes line pedestrians but we may have gotten a few. On sunday evening, we took about 40 plants to an orphanage in the next village, nkoko. The kids were so excited to recieve the plants and to create a little garden plot. Many of them ran up to me yelling "madam madam we know you." I had done an HIV/AIDS lesson at their school. They told me about all that they learned and how excited they were to have me as their auntie. Times like this are the most rewarding. We drew some lines in the dirt and I taught the kids at the orphanage how to play four square. Personally, I haven't played since 2nd or 3rd grade so we made up some rules. By the end, we had a really competitive game going. We had a tournament going because so many wanted to play. Later this week, we will be building a stove for an HIV group up in Lugasa. It is a rural village about an hour south. Also, we will be building a nursery garden with this group. There is so much good that can be done in this small village. The orphans and street boys that are on the soccer team found some land for a garden. I am excited for this garden especially. This boys are amazing. We play them every Wednesday and they never cease to amaze me. They are so full of love and never give up despite their circumstances. They are great examples to me. I don't mind the fact that they school me every week on the field, although, we finally did win last week. We may of had some help from the coaches though. In Najja, our team has created an Ag school. This week we will be bringing bee keeping supplies from Kampala for the school to start up a bee keeping and honey program. We are slowing integrating ag programs to the school so the children can learn vocational skills and the school will also be self sustaining.
Once again, I will say that I love Uganda and the work here. I now know that I want to do this for the rest of my life. I have never faced so many challenges in my life, but the challenges are what makes the work even more rewarding.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

bombings

As many of you have heard, there were bombings in Kampala during the finals of the world cup. We live about 30 miles away from Kampala, so we were on lockdown all of Monday. Today, we are out and about working again. We have some connections with some people in Uganda's intelligence agency and they say that they are expecting more bombings this week. Hopefully, this does not happen. The people here have suffered enough. Also, if the terrorism continues we may have to be evacuated. I do not want to leave. We are continuely in contact with the US embassy. BUT Spain did win and it was a great game. Thank goodness the bar that we were in wasn't targeted here in Lugazi. One of the bombing spots in Kampala was quite close to the embassy. I am sure that some of the Americans that were hurt or killed were at the same BBQ as us on the 4th.
This last friday, we transplanted seedlings and created 11 or so new gardens for HIV positive individuals in and around Buikwe. Most of these people were elderly jajas (grandparents) that are caring for their grandchildren because the parents have died most likely from AIDS. One of the ladies that we went to deliver plants to only had one arm and she was hoeing her garden as we arrived. My eyes started filling up with tears as I saw her preparing the garden with her infant and toddler grandchildren sitting in the shade watching her. What a dedicated woman.
On saturday, we had the AIDS festival here in Lugazi. My part of the festival was to teach 300 people about HIV/AIDS and to help screen 100 people. We screened people from the age of 10 up. Only one person was positive! As a team, we performed our traditional african dance. We were even dressed in the traditional clothes. They put extra furs and grass skirt type things on their rears and around your waist to really show that you are moving your hips. The whole hall of people erupted in laughter as they watched the mzungus shake their stuff.

4th of july

The 4th of July weekend was the best. On Saturday, we went hiking through the Mabira Rainforest. What a beautiful place! We saw monkeys everywhere and there were trees as tall as sky scrapers. We were too cheap to pay for a guide so of course we got a little lost. We eventually came out in the middle of a matoke field. We were supposed to come out right on the road. Knowing that we needed to find the road to get to our next destination, we started hiking through the field. Eventually, we stumbled upon a farmer with a machete glaring at us. He didn't appreciate us wandering through his fields and started towards us. We immediately turned around and started running away. Thankfully, we finally stumbled upon the road and started hiking up a mountain in search of the Rainforest Lodge. It took us a while but we finally found it. What a glorious place! I have never seen a more beautiful resort in my life. We went and laid by the pool and sipped away at drinks. I felt like royalty. I didn't know that such a place could exist in such a poor country. We were immediately knocked back into reality when we came home though.
On the 4th, we went to the US Embassy in Kampala for their BBQ. I was a little overwhelmed to see so many bzungu in one place. It was great though to have some American food. They played country songs and Party in the USA. I looked around for Nicole because the Mukono team was there but apparently she has already left. I had no idea she was already gone! Anyways, it was quite fun and they even had fireworks. They had Marines at the party also. It was nice to be around military men that you could trust and weren't carrying huge AK-47s. It was strange to be there though. I felt a little awkward and overwhelmed. I guess that it what it will be like to go home.
This week, I have been jumping around on different projects while waiting for my stats professors to get back to me about the research project. I have helped teach community members and the nurse at the hospital about managing back pain and how to strengthen their core and improve the way they do their daily activities to prevent back pain. I have also helped in a nursery garden. We have started transferring plants to some of our 100 beneficiaries. This week, we had the musana women come and ask us to teach them about proper hygiene and sanitation. They also expressed interest in receiving hand washing stations. I was thrilled! This has been a hard project to get going and I have been so busy doing research that I put it on the back burners. The Musana women are widows and/or those infected with HIV that don’t have a proper source of income. They were set up by HELP International last year. They make earrings and necklaces and with the help of HELP market them across the world. Nearly every night, we have dance practice for our traditional African dance that we will be presenting at the AIDS festival this Saturday. We all look ridiculous but it is a lot of fun. Small school girls come and try to teach us, but just shake their hands and laugh at us.
This week, my eyes were really opened. I met with Betty from the Musana group. She is 19 years old and has two girls, Ssanyu age 4 and Margaret age 3. She was an orphan and a family of brothers and sisters hired her to be their house girl. One of the brothers raped her several times and the children were the result. She lives in a tiny 5 ft by 5 ft room with her two daughters. Because one of the brothers is the father of the children he is called her husband although they are not married. The husband and his sisters still expect her to do the house girl chores for free now. They give her a long list of things to do everyday to keep her busy because they don’t want her going to the Musana group to get an income. Even though, the husband doesn’t give her any money at all. To get around this, she wakes up extra early in the morning to do the chores so she has time to go to Musana. Earlier this week, she accidentally burnt the beans that were meant for dinner. Her husband and his sisters beat her mercilessly. When I saw her, her face was completely swollen and I could hardly recognize her. Everyday, they verbally abuse her and they have even started in on the oldest child because they say that she isn’t the brother’s daughter. We are working with her to find a different home that is closer to the Musana group. Even then, I don’t know how she can keep the husband and his sisters away. Her oldest daughter, Ssanyu, starts school next year and she doesn’t have the $75/year to pay for her daughter’s schooling. I knew that these kinds of situations are everywhere especially here in Uganda, but to experience it first hand has really shocked me. Hopefully, we can help her to get out of this situation and to have a better both for her and her daughters.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Safari

I am getting nasty e-mails from family telling me to post, so I will. These past few weeks have been quite busy. I don't think that I have ever slept so well in my life. Each night, I am exhausted after working 10 plus hour days. I don't even notice the metal bars poking through my thin foam pad at night anymore. I have grown to love the cold showers and lack of running water and electricity. I don't even notice the heat anymore. I love uganda and everything about it. Although, I do miss sweets.
This last weekend, I had the opportunity to go up to Murchison Falls and go on a safari. It was so amazing. The first day we were out at 6:30 in the morning riding a ferry across the nile. It was a beautiful sunrise over the river. I have some amazing pictures of it. Half the day, we road in safari vehicles with the tops up. We saw elephants, giraffes, antelope type creatures, baboons, warthogs, meer cats, and one car saw lions. The second half of the day was a boat ride. We saw a bunch of crocodiles, hundreds of hippos, and more elephants. I found out that hippos are actually quite aggressive. We had one coming straight for our boat. Apparently, if they ram your boat you can easily tip over even though it was a pretty good sized boat. Our driver quickly sped off. The next day, we went to the rhino reserve and saw some white rhinos. We saw a mother feeding her baby. The baby's name is Obama because his mother is from America and his father is from Kenya. The safari was super fun and we camped out at murchison falls for two nights. At our campsite, there were warthogs everywhere. Our guide warned us that they pretended to be domestic but they were not. Trixy warthogs. They were so cute and I couldn't help myself. I had to find out for myself. Yup, they are not domestic. It's a good thing that they were too lazy to chase me for a long distance. In the middle of the night, we had to be careful when leaving our tents. If the warthogs didn't get you, then the hippos might. Luckily, the hippos weren't around that weekend. The drive there was nearly 5 hours so I was glad to be back home after the long weekend.
The HIV/AIDS research is going well. We have hit a rough spot with getting all the sample sizes so I e-mailed my statistics professor at BYU for some help. So far, we have interviewed people who are infected and health care workers. We have learned so much from these people. On friday, we also had Becky and Travis come out to film some of the people that we interviewed. We also have had several HIV/AIDS sensitizations at local secondary schools. Even though I have taught at many schools already, I still get nervous speaking to 500 students at a time. A couple weeks ago, we made an adove stove at a rural secondary school in najja. It was quite fun to stomp the clay and help out with the project. I think that the students learned quite a bit too. We really wanted the students to be involved so that they can gain a practical skill and duplicate the stove in the future. Afterwards, I played volleyball with a bunch of the students. It was very interesting because they really didn't have any rules except to keep it from hitting the ground, but it was a lot of fun. Since I have been here, I have become a huge fan of soccer. We watch as many world cup games as we can. We go to local bars or the local restaurants to watch games. I am very sad that the US is out, but we had a good run.
This week at the hospital I spent a whole day in radiology. I got to help with giving x-rays and doing ultrasounds. The ultrasounds were pretty cool. We performed them on pregnant women and people with abdominal pain. We found many cysts, gallstones, kidney stones, etc. One lady came in 4 months pregnant. We did the ultrasound and all we could see were the legs and arms of the baby. I told the nurse what I saw and she immediately got a look of concern on her face. It was because the baby was on its way out. Oh, that would explain why the woman was screaming in pain. She was in the middle of a miscarriage. That is good to know for the future. I became a pro at recognizing the abdominal organs and finding medical problems. I could also tell the sex of the baby and measure the head, abdomen, and femur for the age of the fetus.
At our house, we have been having quite a few security threats. Our guard was fired because he threatened one of our cooks that if she didn't sleep with him he would shoot her. He was previously in the Ugandan army and then recruited to the LRA. Thankfully, he was able to escape from the LRA. He is a rough character though. He wanted to kill our first cook, that we fired for stealing from us, because she stole 1000 shillings from him. That is the equivalent of 50 cents. In the end, he was getting a bit too friendly with the girls on the team and he had to go. We can't be out front of the house when it gets dark because people throw rocks and bricks at us. Our new guard finally caught these two hooligans and locked them in his guard house over the night. The next morning he tied them together, placed them under arrest and took them to their mothers. Their mothers were furious. These mothers have been having trouble with these boys stealing from them. Here, the mothers either had to cane them 15 times or a mob would stone them to death. The mother's were more than happy to cane them. The other day, we saw a mob go running by to kill someone for stealing a blanket. The police are corrupt here so the people take law into their own hands. Since our guard made a public scene of the boys being caned, hopefully people will leave our house alone now. I have learned to be very firm with men here. Daily, I get asked for my hand in marriage or if a man can date me. I have to be very straightforward with them and tell them no. If you give a man a vague answer, he will take it as a yes. At this point, they become very creepy and stalkerish. Thankfully, I have become pretty streetsmart, but I am always on the lookout. Despite the normal third world problems, I love Uganda. I now know that I want to focus my career and education towards international development. I want to come back to Uganda after I have my degree(s) and serve the people here further.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Not yet finished

P.S. my Ugandan name is officially Namusoke. It means rainbow. I am still primarily called Peggy, but it is cool to have a name in Lugandan. I was given the name by the anesthesiologist during the last surgery. He was a really cool guy and apparently I am named after him. He called me his white twin. Yeah, sure thing.

Busy days

So much is happening everyday. Last week during my hospital day, I saw an ovarian cyst removed. It was huge! It was the size of a softball!!! I couldn't believe it. They also removed one of her fallopian tubes and appendix while they were there. It was a great operation. On Thursday, we played soccer with orphans and street kids. They were amazing and kicked our butts even though we had a few extra people on our team. These kids are part of the Youth Outreach Programme. HELP donated game jerseys and ball for these kids. I can't wait to see one of their games. This last weekend, we went rafting on the River Nile. It was soooooooo awesome but not the best place to start learning how to raft. Most of the rapids were class 5. One time we were going over a waterfall (yes, a stinkin waterfall) and I slid all the way from the back of the raft to the front. Of course, we got stuck underneath the waterfall too. We were being pelted with the water and our raft was starting to tip so we all scurried to one side to try and paddle. It was ridiculous. Overall, I only fell out two times. This was because our raft flipped or because or raft nearly flipped and my spot of the raft was completely washed out. The last rapid flipped every raft that came through. It wouldn't have been bad if I didn't get sucked down by a boil and stuck under water for a good 20 seconds. I am so glad that I had a helmet on. I also got burnt by the sun really badly. I put on sunscreen but it did absolutely nothing for me. I am burnt so badly that I have blisters on my knees, shoulders, and upper arms. I cannot sleep at night because of the pain, but it was totally worth it. I went to the hospital yesterday to meet with the head doctor about our research and we ran into Jospephine, the head public health nurse who we work with on several projects, and she gave me a big hug. I felt like crying and told her that I was burnt by the sun. Being black, she didn't understand what a sun burn was and kept slapping her hand on my burns saying that I had a fever. She didn't understand that she was killing me each time that she touched me and popping blisters in the process. The work here is going well. We are making great strides with our HIV research project. Also, we taught our first HIV lesson to a secondary school last week. It went well, but I am surprised at how much the kids do not know. We had to go back to the drawing board to change our lesson so we could address the kids questions better. HIV screening is going well as usual. In the next couple weeks, we want to open up new areas for the testing.We are trying to get our handwashing stations/sanitation lesson off the ground. We are struggling with those a little bit due to a lack of time, but I found a great rural school up in Najja that would be a perfect beneficiary. They have built this school out of nothing. About half of the students are orphans because their parents died of AIDS. The HIV/AIDS rate in this area is out of control. Hopefully, I will be able to do something to change this. As a team, we are creating an agricultural school, constructing a nursery garden, creating a mushroom house, constructing many stoves, creating disability physical therapy and support groups, conducting business training, training teachers, planning for eye camp, and expanding a school house. I love being able to jump onto a stove project, visit an orphanage, plan eye camp, work on the AIDS extravaganza coming up in July, or work with partners to improve their small projects. The days seem to fly by because we are doing so much. Today, we went up to Najja to talk to the ag school there. We were packed into a tiny taxi. These taxis are the size of a normal mini van. We had 22-23 people in the taxi. I had an adult man sitting on my sun burnt knees while a chicken was pecking my poor sun burnt arm. The ride was miserable but the meeting was great. As it turns out, the church just donated a huge water tank to the school. We also met an elderlyLDS couple who are serving their mission in the area. They just happened to be at the school. It was so great because we are the only members in the area. What a coincidence running into this couple in the middle of nowhere. I love it here and am so grateful for this opportunity and my health. I have been blessed with a very privileged life and the opportunity to serve these great people.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wednesday=hospital days

So much has been going on. I can hardly believe that I have been here for a month already. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to go into the nile. We went to the source of the nile. This is the point where Lake Victoria turns into the river. It was pretty cool. We saw cute little White African Monkeys. It takes 4 months for the water to get from this point to the mediterranean sea. So Sophie, in about three months the water that I was standing in will be passing by you. It was a fun day and we got chocolate milkshakes. It wasn't anything close to what we have in america but it was better than nothing. We all crave american food so badly. Matoka, rice, and beans every night for dinner just doesn't cut it anymore.
Last week, we went on an outreach to Buikwe with chairman Livingstone. He is the equivilent of a senetor. We went to rural villages and taught about HIV/AIDS, tested for HIV, performed Physical Therapy, and gave out perscription drugs. These people live so far away from Kawolo hospital here in Lugazi that they do not have access to any treatment. They can't even afford the 6,000 shillings for travel. That is the equivalent of 3 dollars. We were excited to do this work, but also a little disappointed that the chairman was using us as part of his campaign. Each village we went to he gave a little speech and then left volunteers to work while he went on to the next village to give another speech.
This last wednesday, I had the opportunity to work in the hospital all day. I seperated from the rest of the group so I could get more hands on learning. I was placed into the antenatal unit. I was examining pregnant mothers. Josephine, the public health nurse, showed me how to do it on one patient and then let me go. I was a little overwhelmed because I did not have any of the equipment that doctors have in the United States, nor did I have the proper medical training to be examining these patients on my own. Although, I do have to say that I am now a pro. I would check their eyelids for proper color, eyes for jaundice, neck lymph nodes for swelling, feet for edema, breast for cancer, and then I would check the baby. I could tell them exactly how far along they were just by examining their stomach. By this, I told them when their next check-up is and what their due date is. I had to feel around their stomach to find the babies head and back. I had to make sure that the head wasn't engaged into the mother's pelvis prematurely. By finding the back of the baby, I could determine it's position and use that to find the babies haertbeat. I did not have a stethoscope for this. I used a funnel looking device to listen. I compared the babies heartbeat to the mother's radial pulse. It was such a rush to hear my first little baby's heart racing away. They do not do ultrasounds here unless there are complications because the ultrasounds cost too much. About 1/3 of the mothers that I examined were HIV positive. I dispensed their Anti-retro virals (ARVs) to them and counseled them on the disease and how to keep their baby from being affected. Most of these mothers were younger than me. There was one who was 19 or 20 who didn't want to take the FREE drug because she was afraid of some of the side effects. Her main concern was that she might get rashes on her body. I feel like this is a small price to pay for having a health non-infected baby. This absolutely broke my heart. Hopefully, I was able to get through to her. Once I finished with my patients, I was able to observe two surgeries. I got all scrubbed up and dressed in my surgery scrubs, cap, and face mask. I was able to just wander around the Main Theatre (Operating Room) as I pleased. The The first surgery was on a 16 year old boy, Abraham. He had gang green in his left foot pointer toe. The surgeon, Dr. Joshua, was chit chatting with me the whole time. He was able to keep the toe and not amputate it. As he took out the dead bone, he held it up in my face to see. Gee thanks. But it was really cool. He asked me if I had medical training; I think that he wanted me to close the cut up. I told him no even though I wanted to so badly. The next surgery was cleaning out an abcess on an elderly man. I asked Dr. Joshua if it would smell. He said no. He lied. Nicole, the girl who was with me in the Main Theatre had to leave before she passed out. It was quite disgusting but also fascinating. At least a gallon, but probably more, of puss came gushing out of the incision. I gagged a little bit but I could look away. The man's thigh was half as big as it was before after the surgery. The next surgeon, Dr. Julius, invited us to the vesectomy that he was doing next. He said that it is very rare for a man to do this. Usually, they make their wives come in to get their tubes tied. Unfortunately, it was our curfew so we had to go home. It was such a great opportunity. I look forward to wednesdays at the hospital. I would never be able to do this kind of stuff in America. I love the hospital here even though it is not the cleanest. While we were scrubbing in for the surgery, there were geckos climbing along the walls and in the sink. It is definitely a third world hospital, but I guess it is better than nothing.
On Thursday, all of our appointments were canceled because of Martyr's day. It is a huge country wide celebration. People walk on foot from all over central Africa to a small town outside of Kampala to celebrate this day. Being mzungus, we drove. The holiday comes from the late 1880s. The first mzungu came to Uganda and introduced christianity. The king endorsed this and petitioned the Queen of England to send missionaries. This King's son came into power after his death and didn't like the fact that the people praised and worshipped God instead of him. He gathered up all the believers in his court which were 12 catholics and 13 angelicans and tortured them until they denied Christ. They didn't give in, so he made them march 37 miles in chains to the small village outside of Kampala to be tortured more. The man in charge of the torturing was the uncle of one of the captives. He killed his nephew without even blinking. When they remained true to the faith, they were forced to gather their own firewood to be burned alive with. As they were burning, they sung hymns. To this day, every June 3rd martyrs day is celebrated. To celebrate we first went to the Catholic church. They had priests there from all over Africa and the Vatican to lead the services. It was really neat. I shook their hands as they walked to the front stage. There were millions of Catholics there. We had to link arms and push our way through the crowd to leave, but it was easy to find the group if we got unlinked because we were the only white ones. Next, we went to the Angelican church which was the actual site of martyrdom. The gathering was still quite big but not as big as the Catholic church. Being white, we are celebrities here. They invited us to sit up front on the stage with all of the church officials. We politely declined. This was such a great experience. It is hard to imagine the kind of faith that these individuals had. I hope that I can develop this kind of faith in my life.
We have some really big projects coming up. We are going to introduce our awesome hands free hand washing station into the rural villages this week. Also, we are teaching an HIV lesson to our first school this week. We are starting a HIV/AIDS research project this next week as well. We have so much going on and it will be great!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Check it out

help-uganda.blogspot.com

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lovin life

I love Uganda so much. I have gotten used to rarely having running water and electricity. I have been placed as the head of public health. This is such an overwhelming job, but I am learning to delegate. I have been so busy that I haven't had the opportunity to check my e-mail for about 2 weeks. Family, I see that you all have e-mailed me several times. The internet here is so slow that I can't even get into my gmail account all the way to read the emails. The best that I can do is a blog post. Hopefully, this helps. It is official; I do not have an address. I live in a little village called Nakazadde which is right outside of Lugazi. We pretty much walk everywhere. I am becoming a pro clothes washer. I never realized how difficult it was to wash clothes by hand. I still have a problem with my whites. It is impossible to get the red clay out of them. Becky, do not wear white clothes in Africa. We met a man named Emmanuel that is a great contact for us. I was able to set up a standing appointment with him every week on Tuesday to do HIV screening. It is such an awesome experience. Last week, we screened 49 people for both HIV 1 and 2. Thankfully, no one was positive which is rare. I was swabbing people's fingers and doing record keeping. I even pulled each person aside to give them their results. Emmanuel taught us to really make them sweat while they were in the hot seat even if their results were negative. Nearly all of them had legitimate reasons to worry. It surprised me how many were not being smart and putting themselves at risk. For the testing, we did not have the proper supplies such as gloves or a sharps container. This worried me and I am working on fixing that problem. Here the clinics are dirty and they do not have the resources. On saturday, we went into Kampala for Dominoes and a football game. We are all getting very tired of Ugandan food, but were slightly disappointed by the Ugandas attempt at pizza. It was certainly better than the usual matoka, beans, and rice though. AFterwards, we went to Mandela stadium and had front row seats to the football (soccer) game between Uganda and Kenya. It was absolutely amazing! Of course, Uganda won 1-0. I love this country very much. My only frustration is that Ugandans run on a totally different time schedule. They are at least an hour or two late to every meeting that is if they even show up. They make mormon standard time look good. We are trying really hard to get actual projects up and going, but it is difficult if we can't meet with the right people to help us. I am certainly learning patience. Mike and Debbie, I hope all is going well with the job search and moving. We should have a house warming party when I get back.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Uganda!!!

Oliotiya! (hello)
I am safely in country. On my way here, I ran into London by myself for a day trip. I am a master of the tube. I am surprised at how easily I was able to navigate around London without a map or clue of what I was doing especially since I am still confused about the bus system in provo. I stumbled upon buckingham palace. It is so amazing in real life. I even got yelled at by a bobby. From there I went to Kenya. It is just like the Lion King. There were moths there the size of my hand. The airport there was nasty, but it was quite the experience. Kenya and Uganda look nothing alike. Kenya is more of a safari while Uganda is a tropical forest. We drive through a rain forest on the way to church. I have already eaten fried grasshoppers. It is apparently a special treat here. Our team has already made two adobe stoves. The children here love us and follow us everywhere yelling "myzungos myzungos" (white people white people). Everywhere I go, I have at least 2 children holding on to each one of my hands. My first day in country I drank black market contaminated water and got hit by a car, but it is ok because I am still alive. The water bottle had a small hole in the bottom that they drilled and then filled with dirty water and super glued shut. Pedestrians do not have the right away. Everywhere we walk, people stare. They absolutely love us, but the ones that are a bit too outgoing are the ones that you have to watch. They are looking to take advantage of you. I have already had someone try and steal my bag. Our first official restaurant meal was fish and chips. I was expecting cute little fish sticks, but instead they brought us out the whole fish. The eye balls are supposedly the best part. That is a lie. They are disgusting but the fins are pretty good. During our first stove building, we were stomping and mixing the clay with our bare feet and I got clay and cement on my face so I just made little smears under my eyes. Kisha (our construction leader) told me that I had dirt on my face. I said I know; I am a warrior. He looked confused and said that in their culture they put paint like that on little boys' faces when they are going to be circumsized. Oops. Also, the women and children kneel when they greet you as a sign of respect. Today, we toured Kowala Hospital. I got to see a live operation in the major theatre (operating room) and saw a woman's uterus being pulled out. I can't wait to really get to work at the hospital. I will even be helping giving birth. The country is beautiful and the people are even more wonderful. It is so green here, but it is also ridiculously humid. For the past week we haven't had running water and the electricity is only on half the time. When we have the chance to get water, we take bucket showers. I am really getting the third world experience. Since it is rainy season, it rains super hard at least once a day. All of the myzungos love it because it is a break from the heat, but all the ugandans run for shelter and wear huge jackets and parkas. At first, all the natives here stunk like BO really badly but now they are starting to smell fine. I attribute this to the fact that I haven't showered for 3 days so I stink also, and everything I touch sticks to me. The bugs here are insanely large, and the mosquitos are even bigger. Although, we were told that the mosquitos that carry malaria are the small ones. Good thing I have my bed net all set up. Here, my name is peggy. They do not understand paige or think that it is silly that I am named after a piece of paper. I have already developed a little bit of an ugandan accent. It makes it easier for the people to understand me. I have so much to tell but no time. I also have amazing pictures and videos but I will have to wait until America to post them.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Uganda

Hooray! I fly out of Pasco for Uganda at 2:30 today. I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Adorable


Running

On Monday, I decided to start running. So far, I have not been very consistant, but it was quite the adventure. We went about 2 miles. You know how some people run with their dogs? Well, I ran with the horse. Will also came along. Afterwards, we came back and brushed the horse, Paddy, out while she munched on grass and we caught our breaths.







Shooting

Mike and Debbie were in town last week. They were looking for a house in Provo because they are coming here in the fall for grad school. On Thursday, we went up in Provo Canyon to go shooting.
The view from our trap shooting spot.






These are the targets from shooting the 22.

Mike




Debbie



ME!






























Debbie did awesome on the shotgun. She showed us all up.































Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What have we been reduced to?

No toilet paper+ poor roommates

Equals

The use of napkins.

Finals time

I have taken 5 finals with one to go. My easiest final was for my animal husbandry class. All we did was go to my professor's alpaca farm and visit the neighboring farms in the area. We traveled about an hour south to Moroni which is where my professor lives. We went to a turkey farm, goat farm, sheep farm, dairy farm, turkey processing plant, and of course my professor's alpaca farm. My professor and his wife fed us a great turkey dinner. It was delicious. All these pictures were taken from my cell phone so please forgive the poor quality.






This is my class all dressed up to go into the turkey processing plant. Let me just say that the movie Food Inc. is crap.


The dairy cows loved me and followed me along the fence as I walked.








On the milking carousel. I am amazed at how efficient this farm is. They recycle their manure into electricity and water.





This mare and foal were at the sheep farm. Our teacher was explaining the ins and outs of sheep farming when he realized that 90% of the class left to look at the horses. He gave in and came and looked at the horses with us.










































These goats absolutely adored me. I forgot how good goats smell. Aside from horses, they are my favorite smell. My class was lined up along the fence and three goats came up just to me. One was rubbing its head on my boot and then I had one for each hand. My professor couldn't believe it.
He said that I am a goat whisperer.





I forgot how funny turkeys are. This barn had 6,000 turkeys in it. They were so curious and came right up to us and pecked at our boots.