4th of July a Non-Event Here in Uganda

Written on the evening of Wednesday, July 4:

It was another exciting day for all of us today.  Luckily, those who were feeling sick yesterday all came to breakfast this morning seeming much more like themselves.  We left for Bishop’s a little later than usual and, after the routine drive from Jim’s House to school, we once again found ourselves at the gates, ready to begin another day there.  Headmaster Kham had expressed interest in our painting the outside of the administrative offices white and maroon with both the Bishop’s and Groton crests.  After the wall was patched up last week, we began to prime it this morning with the intent of finishing it tomorrow.  Jacob, Peter, Ms. Irwin, and I picked up paintbrushes and the roller and began to attack the wall.  Bishop’s has a few very tall ladders and somehow (most likely because I volunteered myself) I ended up near the top, painting the trim on one of the somewhat teetering yet sturdy latters.  Peter once again did a stellar job with the roller and Jacob and Ms. Irwin worked steadily with smaller brushes.

We worked on preparing the stoves today for more demonstrations.  After collecting all the supplies over the course of the past few days, we’ve been showing student how to operate the brick rocket stove.  Once again, we compared all three: the three-stone fire which is common in many Ugandan homes, the metal rocket stove we acquired from CREEC at Makerere University, and the brick rocket stove designed originally by a team of engineers from Dartmouth, including Mr. Reed and Ms. Irwin’s son.  After some trial and error this morning, we showed Senior One and Senior Two students the various differences among the stoves, including how long it takes for each one to boil water.  Overall, I think they were receptive to the demonstrations.  It was exciting to see a few students approach Mr. Prockop and Mr. Reed afterwards in order to ask a few more questions.  The students were also instrumental in getting the fires going.  While we do have some pyromaniacs in the group (Ycar), a few of us had trouble getting the flames going.  I know my father would not be proud to hear this, but I really struggled yesterday with the three-stone, as I attempted to make the wood and paper catch.  A few Bishop’s girls came up, casually glancing at what I was doing (or failing to do) and, after a little conversation, one of them stepped up and took the matches, striking one and then another to ignite the kindling and paper.  Soon enough, we had a roaring fire.  She really knows what she’s doing!

I am really enjoying the daily routine which we’ve fallen into.  It seems like meal times at Bishop’s work like clockwork- there is always a morning tea followed by lunch, evening tea, and dinner.  As a few of us were saying today, we have never had so many bananas!  Or so much tea…  Patience and Jolly (I love their names) are the two women responsible for all the cooking at school, along with a couple of helpers.  They prepare tea twice a day, lunch for all of us, as well as lunch for the students.  With the help of a few men, they get all the meals ready and hot, on time, which will continue to impress me, considering how long it often takes to cook everything.  At lunch today we dined and then went outside.  Ycar and Eddie got another Frisbee game going and Malik, Jacob, and I were going to head back to visit our homestay families, who live close to school.  In the end, my homestay buddy, Fazirah, and I were the only ones able to make the trip up the hill to visit her mother, but Malik and Jacob stopped by later in the afternoon.  As usual, Malik came back with a plentiful bag of fruit from his hosts.  We’ve all noted that they all have a tendency to feed us!

We got a chance to watch some soccer today or, as the Ugandans like to call it (much like the British) football!  Two primary schools were playing each other in both net ball (a sport unique to this area which seems to us like a combination of basketball and handball with a few added wrinkles) and football; it was a battle between the Salvation School nearby and our local Bishop’s Primary school in Kyabugashe, the town where we have been living.  The game was thrilling.  It ended in a 3-0 win for Bishops and the crowds who came out to watch were unbelievable!  Both schools bordered the end zones and I am convinced that the cheering when Bishop’s scored could be heard from a good kilometer (they work in metric units here) away!  I was told that one boy, after he scored, ran up to center field and did a flip and cartwheel with no hands for the enjoyment of his spectators.  I was sorry to miss that!

Once back at Jim’s, we relaxed and a few of us went for a walk with Michael, who took us around the beautiful countryside.  We clambered up hills and stepped over gates.  We passed grazing cows and goats and gorgeous gurgling streams running through the lowlands.  Ycar made friends with a few small children whom we met when we had a look at the soccer field where Michael told us he used to play.  The kids were tentative at first, waving from a distance.  Soon, they worked up the courage to approach us and, with Ycar’s instruction, they high-fived.  He seems to be making his way through Uganda one high-five or prop at a time.  It was beautiful out and really nice to get out and see a part of the countryside which was new to us.

We changed things up a little for dinner and went out to the Rukungiri Inn.  It was fun to be there; we all sat outside and enjoyed the starry night sky.  After our meals, Malik and Eddie decided that they were still hungry, so they ordered tilapia most likely from Lake Edward where we visited a few days ago.  Most of us were fading by the time their full, completely fried fish arrived on the table maybe 45 minutes to an hour later.  They wolfed them down, enjoying them I hope and soon we were on our way back to Jim’s.

That’s all for now!  Christina

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