Golden Ticket

The day finally arrived. Instead of waiting for a training facilitator to gather us from the lunch area, we patiently waited for them in the open conference room. Our APCD’s walked in with maps and stapled papers, and we all sat at the edge of our seats waiting to discover the secrets held on the papers that would determine our next two years in country.
As if being presented with an award, we cheered as each individual was called to the front to receive the papers with the name and description of our organizations. Lauren, Matt, Lizz, Zack… health centers, youth drama clubs, beekeepers…
“Sandi Giver- Friends of Orphans, Pader District”
When my name was called, I didn’t pay attention to the claps or cheers, but rather that piece of paper that held my new long awaited “job description”. I thanked the APCD as she handed it over and sat back down amongst the group.
And then you wait again. Rather than forgetting about the rest of the world to read over the multiple pages, you cheer and clap for others as they walk up to find their golden ticket as well.
In some ways, getting that little packet of information is slightly like being rewarded- not only did we all make it through the year long PC application process/medical clearance/months of waiting and filling out paperwork in the states, we have also made it through the new paperwork at staging/the two day flight/living with homestay families/becoming familiar with our new country foods and social norms. We’ve made it through hours of frustrations of attempting to learn new languages where you don’t think you’ll get past greetings, tech sessions on HIV/AIDS/keyhole gardens/ diversity and gender issues/ one’s where we are really confused on what the presenter is talking about. Nurses gave us shots in both arms for like 7 weeks in a row and we took it like a man. That new job description says “you have made it thus far and we believe you will make it after swearing in as a PCVolunteer.” Get ready for the rollercoaster of emotions cause its coming at a much faster rate than expected…
We have left our homestays, moved to the hotel, and are currently doing workshops with our counterparts and supervisors. I’m very excited that I’ll be working with FRO. FRiends of Orphans. People in my training group thought it fitting by just the name even.
The vision of FRO is a society in which the vulnerable are empowered to achieve their full potential and contribute to the development of their community. The mission is to contribute to the empowerment, rehabilitation and reintegration of former child soldiers, abductees, child mothers, OVC and to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. They plan to do that through Christian values, education, health, human rights, and peace building activities.
Moses, my Acholi language teacher, was rather excited for the placement. FRO has done a lot of good work in Pader and has so many things for me to get involved with. After talking to people from the organization, I have a feeling I will have plenty of variety and enough to keep me fully busy. Life skills development (building confidence, self esteem, promoting positive behavior and more), promoting and improving youth development programming, counseling, improving organizational management skills, long term strategic management, and more administrative work a few of the options. I’m very interested to see what getting to site and starting to work looks like.
Am I excited? Yes. Am I a bit nervous? Of course. It seems like God keeps preparing me for more intense situations. Pader was hit hard with the LRA. In America, we have a problem with teen pregnancy- with the situation here, you have girls that were abducted from their homes and raped continuously by the men that murdered their parents. If that wasn’t bad enough, I wonder if the babies that they now have remind them daily of the abuse and fear they lived in night after night.
It’s a different mindset here. With my qualifying project, I presented doing a kids club filled with songs, games, lessons, and a good time utilizing local young people’s creativity and leadership. There were questions about how many children per facilitator, location considerations, but the one that stood out was about how to prevent child sacrifice abductions. People seriously sacrifice kids thinking they will gain something in return. In the north, people pierce their children’s ears to help prevent it. Bad things do happen in the states yet sometimes things seem to be a bit more intense overseas.
Wanna know something else a bit intense? A good chunk of trainees are going to houses, electricity, tap water… where as I will be living in a compound, in a thatch roof hut, no electricity in the whole town, and get water from a borehole. My friend Martha and I took a picture of us in front of a hut while at the museum. We joked around that we would be living in one at our sites. Funny thing is, I will be. It’s pretty sweet though. Why not move to Africa and live in a hut? It’ll be like a round studio apartment. My organization has a vocational school (with a freakin bakery, tailoring, carpentry, computing… it’s gonna be great) and they will make any furniture I want. With the electricity, my host Ruth got excited and said that I would be okay since I haven’t had electricity the last two months either. I’m excited to get their Friday and to start making it my home. Random fact- I haven’t lived in the same place for two years since high school. I’ve moved every 6 months or less since 2006. I’m kinda “settling down” in one place in a very foreign land. Oh goodness…
Tomorrow, we swear in as Peace Corps Volunteers which is a big deal. The Uganda Country Director, US Embassy representative, some sort of big health guy, and others will be here for the ceremony. It will be our last night as a group of 42 before heading to our sites across the country. Nervous. Luckily, Katherine is working with another organization in town so she will be close by. Since my organization teaches about computers, they have electricity through solar panels and a generator thus resulting in being able to charge the computer so I can write more.

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2 thoughts on “Golden Ticket

  1. Sandi! I’m so excited for you. Working with orphans sounds perfect for you. I know that God is with you and will help you every step of the way.
    Know that I will be praying for you. You are going to do a great job being salt and light to those kids. Remember to ask for wisdom and guidance everyday – He will give it to you.
    Love you!
    Mindy Bagley

  2. Sandi – I am one of your mom’s friends from Alaska. I live in Ohio. Your mom & I recently connected at Facebook, and I am sooo enjoying her newsy emails. She shared your blogsite with me and I had to check it out. What an adventurous woman you are! WOW! Very exciting stuff you are doing and I am sure you will be a huge blessing to so many there. Keep up the good work – I have your name written in my prayer journal and will try to keep updated reading your blog. What an amazing experience! May God bless you and meet your every need. I know He will!

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