Yesterday afternoon, after months of planning and preparation, many days of travel, lost luggage (now found!), and a noisy weekend in Kampala, I, at long last, arrived in Ddegeya, Uganda. The village of Ddegeya is where Engeye Health Clinic is located. The staff greeted me warmly and showed me to my living quarters. I share the women’s dormitory with two lovely women: Babra, one of the clinic lab technicians; and Prossy, Engeye’s cook. I laid down on my bunk bed for a brief rest, and immediately fell asleep for three hours. The peacefulness of the village was a welcome reprise from the chaos of Kampala, and I had not really slept well since before I left Portland. That, compounded with lingering jet lag, meant I needed a good nap! By the time I awoke, dinner was ready. I welcomed the familiar Ugandan foods prepared by Prossy: matoke (mashed green banana), beans, rice, chopped greens with onions and spice, G-nut sauce (peanut sauce), and chapatti (flat bread).
This morning, Engeye Clinic’s director, John, introduced me to St. Gertrude’s Primary School. I met with school staff to establish a teaching program for my two months in Ddegeya. We decided that I will spend two mornings a week working with the Primary 6 class, reading and discussing the book, James and the Giant Peach. I will spend two other days per week with the Primary 7 class. P7 recently finished reading Charlotte’s Web with another Engeye Scholars volunteer. As a follow up, I will begin reading Louis Sachar’s Holes, with the class. Tomorrow morning, I return to the school for my first day of teaching, followed by a game of netball with students and staff in the afternoon.
After lunch, I accompanied John to Sydney Paul Primary School. Syd Paul, in a nearby village, is another school where Engeye Scholars sponsor students. There I met Rachel, Sydney Paul’s dynamic director. The Engeye Scholars advisory board in the US raised money to construct a bore hole at Sydney Paul, enabling the staff and students to easily retrieve water. Because the area is in a drought, the school’s water collection tank is dry, and staff must now travel a long distance to collect water. One of my tasks is to photograph and document the construction process and report back to the board in the US. I plan to visit Syd Paul once or twice a week to teach classes and take photos.
I have a few other projects in the works, and updates on those will come soon. For now, I am content to be back in this beautiful country, and to ease back into the rhythm of Ugandan life. It is a sweet rhythm.