Sunday, February 17, 2008

Jambo! Safari!

So a lot has happened in the last few weeks. My parents came to visit and it was an amazing experience. It was so great to see them and to show them what life is like for the people here as well as for volunteers. Since the last post, we went to Luwero to have lunch with the family that hosted me for 10 weeks when i first got here. It was a roaring success with a fun time by all. The highlight by far was the gift that my host mother gave to my biological mother. It was a blue traditional dress called a Gomez. The dress is a very expensive and difficult outfit to get and wear, especially for someone just visting. My host mom took a photo of my mother, estimated that she was about the same size and got the dress made to perfection. For the rest of the trip, my mom was a rock star of the local women! On the taxi ride on the way back to Kampala, my folks got to experience their first child peeing on the ground in the taxi. Fun times.

The next three days were spent in beautiful Murchison Falls Park where we saw hippos, giraffes, elephants, crocs, various gazelle breeds, cape buffalo, and the highlight, lion cubs eating an antelope while the lioness watched. We were literally 10 feet away. Super amazing and one of many awesome animal adventures that we experienced there and on our 10 day safari in Tanzania. After animal time, part 1, we started our journey out east to my current homeland. First stop was at a fellow volunteer, Megan's site on our way to Jinja. My folks experienced their first "street meat" which was very tasty chicken though might have been the culprit to my mother's 4 days of hell she experienced soon afterwards. After a nice visit, we went to Jinja and my mom put her feet in the source of the Nile River completing her journey to put her feet in both ends of the Nile (did the other end in the early 80's). The next day was Mbale town, then out to the village for a very hectic, but exciting experience. The highlights included a visit to an orphans school and presenting them with donated school supplies, being initiated in the Bakomba clan and watching a great traditional dance and song group perform there, and doing spot checks with people that received mosquito nets. It was quite an exercise in accountability that my folks (and myself) were very impressed with. My supervisor Kateu spotted a man on the side of the road and said "hey, did you get nets? yes? take us to your home". We did that to a random child that showed up and a lady who was a widow with 5 children. Every person were using their nets properly and it was so great to see the nets that so many people worked so hard to get hanging up in these mud huts in the middle of the village. So cool!

I'm running out of time, so I'll forgo talking about Tanzania except that it was a huge success, there were many animals, and my parents spoil me! There were so many surreal moments throughout my parents 3+ weeks here and they all made a permanent and positive mark on my life. I'm so greatful to have great parents with the means to visit me and support me during this important part of my life. Ok, enough mushiness! Back to the village and back to work for me! Thanks again and again and again to those who have helped not only with the mosquito net project but who have sent me packages, letters, and emails to help me stay sane and happy. Until next time, Asante (thank you) as they say in Swahili