Thursday, September 15, 2016

There was a  police roadblock on the road to Muko this morning. The police checked Christopher's license and looked over the bus. They didn't  come inside to double check that we were all wearing our seat belts, but if they had and any of us had neglected to buckle up, Christopher would have been fined, so we made sure we were properly belted. I heard a couple of quick clips as soon as the bus pulled to the side of the road.

It was quite chilly this morning and my summer skirt was nowhere near to keeping me warm. So I decided to use the 2-yd swath of material I'd bought at the market to make myself an African skirt. You roll the top over to make it the correct length (all the way to the floor this morning), wrap it around yourself (over the skirt you're already wearing) and tuck in the end. Voila! An extra, warmer layer. I had the main idea of how to do it from observation, but didn't get it quite right, so Generous re-dressed me when we arrived at the office. Mainly, I had failed to stand with my feet wide enough apart when I started, so I had ended up with a hard-to-walk-in pencil skirt. The extra skirt works well on a cold morning, but the African women wear two layers of skirts even on the hottest afternoons -- I'm not sure I'd be happy with that.

As soon as she got off the bus at the Center, Nancy was greeted by a line of music students, all of whom greeted her with a hug. What a wonderful way to start the day!

We met with 24 middle school aged students today -- measuring them, delivering blankets, and interviewing them, the same as yesterday. Sheryl and Nena both met orphans they and/or their families sponsor. We also met Alex, whose cleft palate was repaired at the CoRSU Clinic. He looks fantastic! His twin brother, Ronald, was also here today.

After the interviews, Maurice, Sheryl, Nena, and I met with all the girls. Maurice gave them some very basic "this is what puberty is all about" education and Sheryl explained how to use the "Days for Girls" kits we had for them. The girls were very attentive, but predictably shy and quiet.

A group of village cooks worked all morning to prepare lunch for the children, guardians, staff, and volunteers. We visited intermittently to see what was happening. When she got a chance, Nena went to the cooking shed and helped winnow the rice. The process is very similar to winnowing wheat, and definitely harder than it looks! I joined her to help shred cabbages -- we both now have a much healthier respect for coleslaw. The meat was parboiled last night to keep it from spoiling, then boiled the rest of the way just before serving. One funny thing: We were working outside, in front of the shed where the rice, potatoes, and groundnut sauce were cooking in huge iron kettles over open fires. The matooke, covered with banana leaves, was steaming over another open fire just behind us. A cell phone phone rang and one of the cooks instantly answered it. Just a little bit incongruous...

After our late lunch, Sheryl, Nena, and I took around 60 children (ACT orphans as well as village children) to the large field by Uganda Martyrs School (across from the Center) for games. Josiah and Sadath came along as translators. We split he kinds into rough age groups right at the start. Both groups began by learning to play Duck, Duck, Goose; it took awhile for them to catch on, but they eventually got the main idea. Relay races were next, with mixed results. Waiting until it was your turn to run did not come naturally to the youngest group and knowing when your team had finished didn't sink in with either group. But the young ones caught on to Simon Says after lots of giggles. The funniest Simon was practically leading us all in a break dance routine. Sadath said it would be a good game for him, as a primary school teacher, to use for teaching vocabulary, though for the most part we were demonstrating what Simon wanted the kids to do rather than telling them. The younger kids also had a great time with wheelbarrow races, gunnysack races, and tossing a frisbee. (BTW: both Nena and I were demonstrating all these games dressed in ankle length long skirts -- we felt challenged!) Sadath led the kids in a couple of African games that had them falling on the ground laughing, especially since neither Nena nor I could keep up.

The older kids found both the Hokey-Pokey and leapfrog hilarious, and more or less solved the Human Knot game. They and Josiah also demonstrated an African "harvesting millet" game. I don't know about the kids, but I'm almost certain a few adults will sleep well tonight!

There was excitement in the Music program today: they hired Howard, a former student, as a new part-time music teacher. He will have responsibility for the orchestra at Muko High School (and at the second high school if we decide to go with two) and music students at the Center. Howard is definitely welcome as the newest ACT staff member!

The orchestra was challenged with beginning work on a second piece today. A different challenge has been getting the violins put away properly after rehearsals. So at the end of rehearsal today, Dave V. offered a 1000 shilling reward for any student who did it correctly. Major success! The next reward comes for students who are consistent in putting everything away properly.

The HANDS team was busy today, observing and offering advice on the garden behind the Center. The cabbages have been replanted, beet beds have been prepared with a wheel hoe (a marvelous invention, according to Moses), beet seeds have been planted, and tomatoes have been planted with the goal of growing seedlings for transplanting. In the afternoon, the team watched a technical movie, Dirt. It has a broad range of perspectives, not all of which are applicable to the situation in Muko, but the team felt it was valuable nonetheless, and Moses learned a lot and was very appreciative.

Dave reported that he had completed setting up the accounting program for both the child gift project and the lighting project.

The village children treated the entire bus to a "Bye-Bye" dance as we were leaving tonight. It was very noisy and incredibly energetic (wish we could harness some of that!), but very sweet. It was raining when we arrived back at the hotel in Kabale; umbrella-toting hotel staff met us at the bus. We had a dinner that somewhat resembled hamburgers and fries...we'll call it the Ugandan style.

Ellie SchroederComment