Monday, May 21, 2007

More info

I'm back so soon! I was in Mbale today to work on a grant proposal for my organization. It was already written out by my supervisor, but he wanted me to edit and refine it so that it would be presentable to other Americans. I spent about 5 hours working on it yesterday only to have it not save properly and get lost. So today I re-did it and printed it out. The proposal is for 3 main things: 100 female goats and blankets for 100 orphans in the Sub County, funding to construct and operate an HIV/AIDS testing and care center, and funding for a grinding mill to process local grains such as millet, sorghum, maize, and cassava. The big picture is this: The goats will help generate income for the ophans so they can be financially independant and go to school. The clinic, as well as testing and treating current and possible HIV/AIDS patients (amazingly, there is no such services available in the sub county), will provide preventative treatment for the orphans. The grinding mill will be available for the orphans and AIDS patients to use for free. Grinding staple foods by hand takes a lot of energy that children and disease-weakened adults don't have. Basically, this is for a really good cause and I hope we get the grant. We go to the embassy wednesday to turn it in.

So what do I eat? Well, since I've been to town quite a bit lately for work and supply getting, I've been eating out at restaurants. That's expensive (with volunteer money) and takes a long time. When I'm home, it's been pasta and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. This is not from lack of food supply in the area, it's because I'm a bachelor and cook like one! I'll get better. There is a ton of fresh veggies and fruit around here. They grow a lot of tomatos and onions as well as cucumbers, potatoes, garlic, herbs...basically everything grows here! Transporting and keeping all these fresh things is another task all together. I have no fridge, so I have to buy according to what i want to make. I have a farmer friend named George who brought me basil and jalapenos last night. I gave him a bunch of seeds I brought from America and he's going to try to grow them. He was so happy that I gave him the seeds, he promised to bring me fresh veggies every time he came over. So that's pretty cool. There are a couple of supermarkets in town that I can get canned goods, but there's not a lot of variety. Like I said in my previous post, as soon as I get effecient systems in place, I will be a lot better off.

Don't remember if I've mentioned it, but I'm about 30-45 minutes by taxi to Mbale. There are small trading centers nearby where I can get some basic items, but I haven't investigated too much. Ok, enough rambling for now...

Friday, May 18, 2007

So far, so good

Ok, so I'm officially a Peace Corps volunteer. Shoutout to me! The ceremony was as the Ambassador's house and was strangely moving. There were some incredible speeches by two of our volunteers as well as by the PC country director and the ambassador. 10 weeks of long, streneous training lead down to this moment, and admittingly, I got a little teary eyed!

After the ceremony, along with our future supervisors and a LOT of luggage, we headed off to site. I rode in a van owned by a hospital that my org. sends it's nursing students to for practicals. They crammed 6 volunteers as well as 4 supervisors in this van with all our stuff. It was cramped. The ride was boring until on a muddy dirt road heading to my house, we spun off the road...twice! That was an adventure! I made it ok and all was well.

My first week at site as been rather boring. My org. doesn't have a lot of work for me yet and has been letting me settle in. The hardest thing so far is getting used to infrequent and inconsistant transportation...wait, scratch that. The hardest part is figuring out effecient systems to deal with everyday tasks, taking out the convienance of electricity and running, treated water. It's not horrible not living without out these things, but I haven't gotten a system down yet. I spend a lot of time dealing with candles! Keeping my phone charged is diffucult. My house is thankfully free of annoying pests like rats and bats. I have a couple of lizards that hang out and take care of other bugs for me. No huge spiders, either! I bought a bike and will be able to use it to get around the sub-county. My org. will have a new school building opening up soon, and it's a bit of a haul to get there, so a bike will be clutch.

Since my place and more generally, Mbale is at a cross-roads of many different cultures and languages, most people speak English. It's amazing that even the most rural people know like 4 languages. I can barely speak English!

Overall, things are good. I'm not completely overwhelmed or lonely yet. It's nice that there's a lot of us in the east so meeting up and socializing is no prob. That's all for now,