Note from the Blog Manager: Follow Donna, one of the Co-Program Managers for theRotation Engineers Program , as she serves as part of the Intel Education Service Corp (IESC) in Uganda. The IESC is a program that allows Intel employees to work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in developing countries all over the world. Catch up with her first post and read about her first week, before she shares her next installment below. You may notice that we’re a little behind with posting Donna’s blog post—things have been a little crazy around here but better late than never!
The IESC team has only one more day of training before we head back to the Kawempe Youth Centre. We had 45 eager students (a morning and afternoon class of 22-23 each) plus some dozens of youngsters who were out of school, bored and hanging around the centre. It became quite a challenge to maintain order. At one point I looked up to see one registered student with four others leaning over her shoulder, pushing the mouse around, even typing! When I asked them to move back they said they were helping her…yet when I asked her if she wanted their help she looked up with this frantic expression and shook her head no. So I had to play the ‘bad cop’ and insist that there be only one person per computer! However, it was rewarding to be able to ignite so much excitement among the students.
I’m happy to report that ‘Walter’ (Ibrahim) was there all week. One day he was so proud to show me a little picture book he had created (with some help from the centre staff). He had drawn some pictures of himself, Kenneth (his older brother) and their mother. I had given him some of the stickers my friends (from home and work) had donated so some of these found their way into the book—flowers and smiley faces! Below each picture he had written a short sentence and so he was very pleased to be able to read each back to me.
After the last class, we had a small party with the centre staff which consisted primarily of tall beers (Ugandans—both men and women—are very fond of beer!) and some sodas (for the Seventh Day Adventists and Evangelicals—of which there are many in Uganda). We sat together and reminisced about the two weeks and then said our sad good-byes. Over the last two weeks the team has come to share the Uganda enjoyment of their beer but we’ve also discovered that keeping the fridge stocked is not just a matter of having some cash. There are perhaps 3-4 major brands here (Bell, Club, Nile being local and Tuskers coming from Kenya). The first problem we encountered was that the small shopkeepers don’t want to sell you a beer unless you bring in an empty bottle. In a few cases we’ve found places that will simply charge you for the bottle and away you go. But yesterday on the way home we found a new wrinkle in the challenge! We had finally remembered to bring our empties in the trunk of the car so we thought we were free and clear…but no, we didn’t have the right brand of empties! If we had six Club empties, we could only buy six new bottles of Club! If the empties were from Nile—we could only buy Nile. After about three stops we finally hit on a major distributor who carried all the different brands and thus we could make the swap from empties to full bottles! This afternoon we finished a little early so I talked Ellie, the driver, into stopping at a local produce market. We found a perfectly ripe Jackfruit—huge! I’ve been seeing them for sale along the roadside or already opened but this was my first chance to bring one home. I’m drooling at the prospect of some fruit with our dinner tonight. I’ve been so frustrated—we’re perhaps about a month too early for the mangoes. OMG, the trees are loaded!
Tomorrow night we have our farewell dinner with the Mandeleo staff. We’ll be going into Kampala (it will be my first visit to the city!) to a restaurant (Indian!). So it should be a night of new experiences.
This weekend has proven to be a bit of an impediment since it is Easter, and celebrated by many Ugandans. I had hoped to head south to Queen Elizabeth Park on Saturday but will now have to delay until Monday because Ellie isn’t available until then. So on Saturday four of us will make a day trip to Jinja to see the source of the Nile. And on Sunday I’ve been invited to the home of one of the Ugandans we have met here. Not at all sure what that will entail—but should be interesting. Then early on Monday we’ll head south. Ellie is already planning our various stops to see historic sites along the way. I’m looking forward to seeing yet more animals in Queen Elizabeth. And perhaps the best part is that with just the two of us (plus Ellie) I won’t be relegated to the back seat! I’ll have air and a clear view!
Until next time—Ciao!