Bad thing #1:
I’m in my bed Tuesday morning at 8am, not wanting to get up quite yet, when I hear a push at my door. Really confused and without my glasses, I see a guy standing right inside my hut. If it were one of the kids I could kind of understand, but even they are hesitant getting too close in fear of getting caned from their mom for disturbing me. Nope, this wasn’t one of the kids. This was a guy in his mid to late 20s.
“Hello? Hello?! Get out! Out! Ouut!”
Luckily, it was cold that morning and the bed sheet was fully covering me. Had I not been half naked, I would have jumped out of bed and it wouldn’t have been pretty. Needless to say, I was not the happiest as I got ready for work.
I asked the landlords teenage daughter who it was and they said it was George (not sure which one he is) but he lives in our compound. He had asked for an item and the girls pointed to the middle room next to the landlord’s room… I live in the hut across from this room. The girl said that since he didn’t think anyone was inside that he decided to walk into the hut. My hut. Where I was sleeping.
Bad for two main reasons.
1- He just walked into my room -had I been showering in the outside bathing area or using the latrine I wouldn’t have been in the hut and he could have stolen whatever he wanted. I would have been very upset.
2- What if it was someone who had wanted to actually hurt me? Rape anyone? Unsettling.
Bad thing #2:
Walking home from dinner Tuesday night at 8:50pm, I heard a sound and looked around. Me, hoping it was firecrackers that were causing the red/orange sparks, perked my ears and prayed for African eyes that see all. I walked quickly as I stared at this one location across the street. The streets were eerily quiet other than these really loud boom sounds. A minute later, also after I missed my street because of walking too quickly, Steven who works at the restaurant I had just left called to see if I was in a safe place. I said yes, although I wasn’t quite home yet. I made it though
Today, I learned those were actually gun shots that I saw across the street. See, sometimes people have relapses after a traumatic experience and this just happened to be a former child soldier who is now a policemen, a drunken policemen last night, who had an episode and started shooting his gun. Not at anyone, but still. Acholi’s and Africans in general are impossible to see when there isn’t moonlight and although I may glow a bit, I may not be visible to a drunk.
While people who were on the porch at the restaurant I was just at ran inside and laid on the floor covering their heads, I was walking across the street on my way back to the hut. I saw the sparks from the gun itself. Thankfully, I’m still alive and can laugh about how much of an idiot I am for hoping for fireworks and not the alternative which is much more likely in this area.
Bad for 1 main reason-
1- Bullets are hard to remove from flesh. Just saying it might keep me from working at my full potential.
Bad thing #3:
While hand washing a load of laundry and listening to Modest Mouse loudly, I got a call Wednesday morning. The landlord of the former Red Cross compound let someone else rent the room. Basically, there is this place I’ve wanted to shift to for the last three weeks. We contacted the landlord, worked on some agreement papers and negotiated the price, blah blah… well, our PC Safety and Security guy has been really busy and they said he couldn’t come until Thursday, 17th of December, to approve and sign any papers.
The day before they get here, I get the call saying it isn’t available anymore due to lack of timeliness and people disturbing the landlord who live in the area and are willing to take it right away. And so he gives. It has been a complicated headache lasting the last three weeks of being the middle man, trying to get questions answered for both sides and wanting it to be done and over with. I let them know it would be good if this was to never happen to any volunteer again.
Sometimes when we try our hardest to make things work out, they never seem to. Always one step short of completion. I’m having the same problem with a concept note I worked on for two weeks and now it’s so hard to get people to look it over so it can be finished and sent off to the UK. Timeliness is key when it comes to donors and contributions. It’s frustrating to be so determined for a goal yet having to depend on others who have busy lives as well.
My Country Director called and said how sorry he was about the situation. I told him I would try to work some magic and get somewhere for PC to look at and approve. He said how appreciative he was of my determination and uplifting spirit. Inside, I wanted to cry. But by golly, it’s all going to work out and we are going to find a place.
Bad for many reasons but here’s a long one:
1- Housing sucks here. Seriously. Some of the brothels in India that I talked to girls in are better than places here. Being a former IDP camp, housing is either crappy huts or single rooms in a long line with doors facing outside. On the other end, anything half way decent is expensive. PC has allowed 3 volunteers out of the 150 to be partnered with organizations that can’t afford housing to be paid by PC. They have been very gracious and this shows that PC wants to work with this new area after the 21 years of insurgency. I am one of those three that PC is paying for housing which complicates moving to a new place. I am also the only one out of the 150 who got set up with a hut. After looking at the options, I’m praying that something amazing happens when PC arrives today.
Oh, to laugh at oneself and the current situations we face. Well hey- at least I hadn’t gotten raped, robbed, or shot in the last 36 hours. Housing falling through was the least of my problems.
After these 3 bad things, can I pretty please have 3 good things?
Good thing #1:
I talked to Steven at the restaurant about the gunfire and the housing situation. He’s a good listener. He’s still amazed that I cook in my hut. He told me to stay and have dinner there again. He had the cook make eggs and toast with a banana and milk tea which is a simple but tasty little meal. He put it on his bill. Again. He said I could pay next time… which is what he said last time. Good thing that counts is that I got a free meal.
Good thing #2 and #3:
Please hurry up and get here. I would like you to be the whole concept note/proposal finished/a donor around the corner. A miracle with housing would be brilliant.
I find it funny when I talk to other volunteers or travelers about how they leave a lot out when they talk to people back home- especially their parents (sorry mom for not being one of those people and making you worried). People believe traveling and going overseas is this magical experience made of smiles and butterflies when in reality it can be rather frustrating and dangerous. Although at first new experiences are exciting, they become even more mundane than sitting at home in the states. At least people there have electricity and have the option to play in the Walmart toy aisle at midnight and you can have conversations with any person you see.
A lot of good things do happen while overseas and amazing memories will forever be ours and the lives that we touch will never be forgotten. Life is fragile, so much more fragile than we would ever hope it to be. We must take the good and the bad things in whole and become stronger in everything we do. Become determined to follow those little kid dreams and make them into realistic life goals. If we fail, what is the worst that can happen? We might have to live with our parents again until we get back on our feet? At least we have tried and will have something to eventually laugh about. And so we take the chance and end up in Uganda where sometimes bad things happen- but don’t forget the free meal at the end of the night…
It’s gonna be good I tell you. It’s all gonna work out. No worries.