The students have left Pader for their holiday and it reminds me closely of my first summer at Rainbow Christian Camp. Becca was kind enough to let me stay with her in her house on the camp grounds that fall. The summer seemed jam packed with campers coming and going, activities every day, loud worship bands practicing, and before you could finish one task, another was being delivered. I met so many new people since I was one of the few that hadn’t grown up going to camp there. When the summer camp activities were over, the stage taken down in the dining hall, the cleaning was finished and everyone went back to school and beyond, that’s when it happened. The silence- the silence of only crickets at night and an occasional vehicle coming up the road. Although eerie at times it also provided the calm environment needed to gather thoughts and prepare for the next round of hustle and bustle.
The students left a week earlier than they were scheduled to due to lack of food supply. I had been preparing to use Participatory Analysis for Community Action (PACA) tools with the students but time was cut short so it didn’t exactly turn out the way I had hoped. Since arriving, I had been building relationships, conversing with students and staff, gaining knowledge about FRO and the current situation of Northern Uganda. I created an idea list of possible projects and improvements based on what I had learned from people here.
Workshops, meetings, field work, typing. It was hectic when there were projects at hand. I was given a friendly reminder by our Country Director when he came to visit a couple of days after the students left to use the first three months at site to utilize this time to understand the community and relationships within. With students away, there are still the times where a project has a deadline of about three hours ago but for the most part life is rather calm.
Calmness is needed as it keeps getting hotter and hotter each day. Luckily, the hottest hours are after I have already made the 30 minute trek to the office. I walk up and down a few slight hills both ways. Unlike some, I wear shoes. The roads keep getting dustier and dustier as dry season comes upon us. While snowflakes are falling back in the states, anything wet falling from the sky is becoming less and less. (There has been talk of El Nino though and random rains followed by flash flooding. Exciting. Our dusty roads will become extreme mud pits.)
What is also exciting and frustrating and time consuming is working on papers and proposals. Update on the ECE center- I really want to write some exciting news right here but need to gain more information before doing so. Good things are happening as far as I know. The newest project I’ve been working on isn’t actually that new to me. Pader Kids Club will be an expansion of the Qualify Project I presented to PC a few months ago. Sports Club, Holiday Club, Story Club, and Movie Club are different areas that it will hopefully become. The 10 page rough draft is finished but it still needs tweaked and a budget. I’m not a fan of creating a budget. Nope.
I’m also not a fan of the boredom that comes about from living in a place with no electricity and a lot of development to go. I can live with it though. Granted, the electric poles are up and people are working on the lines so hopefully within the next few months I’ll be able to do more than read by lamp or cook by candle after 7pm. I’ve read a lot of books. I like books. I like learning and then also the candy books that make you forget where you are. Thank you to Katherine and the other PCVs that remembered that type of book.
I don’t remember a time in the states when males were the dominate population everywhere. Most women go to the market and do a few errands here and there but are outnumbered by far in restaurants and whatnot. It’s not the easiest thing to be a female here. While talking to my supervisor and counterpart, I mentioned that I need more local female friends. The problem is, the traditional way of living is that after work, women go home and cook and do chores. Men aren’t allowed in the kitchen so if they are single and don’t have a wife to cook for them, they go out to eat and grab a beer. How am I supposed to spend time with women if they just go home and cook before going to bed? Their advice in a jokingly manner was to go out with the men then. I think otherwise.
I’m attempting to find those strong nontraditional women for evening chats but it’s a bit harder than one would think. Hopefully soon. Hopefully safety and security will approve the rooms I’d like to move to as soon as possible. Maybe then, my attempts to cook will increase without fear that my thatch roof hut will catch on fire somehow. I’m attempting to stay sane as the quiet and calm are providing time to work, as I walk on the hot and dusty roads reminding me of where I am, papers and proposals are written in hopes of enriching the community here, while boredom gives me too much time to think so I delve into the life and problems of someone else while reading books, and attempt to find female friends when I want to go out and get dinner like the male population. Attempting to take on the challenge…