The storm that hit the east coast on January 2nd left us with a flight delay and an unexpected overnight stay in Amsterdam. We were excited to take a break from flight travel and see a city that most of us had never been to.
Outside of the Schipol airport in Amsterdam
Arrival in Kampala
After a 11pm arrival in Entebbe we were greeted warmly and had a very late dinner. We were disappointed that we didn't get to try matooke (a boiled and mashed plaintain staple food in Uganda) right away, but there will be ample opportunity to eat matooke in the weeks going forward.
In the lobby of the Ndere Cultural Center, our home away from home in Kampala
Day 1 in Kampala: A Visit to East African Brass in Mungongo
What is your best method for expressing yourself when you have something difficult and important to say?
Have you begun making "adult" decisions? How do you overcome oppressive authority from elders?
Do you use Facebook or other social media online? How do you decide what is or isn't appropriate to post?
Have you ever had or witnessed an experienced with malaria, chikungunya, or mono? What happened and how was it treated?
Our first friends--the members of East African Brass--had these questions and more that they wanted to discuss with us when we visited them. They performed, took us through their village to meet their families and see their homes, and took us to their new building, which houses their instruments and three band leaders.
Group discussion with band members and JHU students
The band performed the Ugandan and USA national anthems, and "Let it Be" by the Beatles!
Walking through the village we had to pass a truck that was situated in the middle of the road.
George's grandmother greeting the group.
The band's new house which just got its roof!
Day 2 in Kampala: A Trip To The Fishing Village & TORWU (Training of Rural Women in Uganda)
We took a long journey to a fishing village on Lake Victoria and got to see the villagers bringing in some of the morning's catch. Small minnows were piled up on tarps, drying out for preparation. We learned that fishing is an extremely dangerous profession here in Uganda and that many fisherman cannot swim. Because fishing is so dangerous many fisherman do not take care of their health so there is a high prevalence of alcoholism and HIV.
Group photo at the fishing village
Large pile of minnows drying out in the sun
Our next stop was TORWU which is a training site for rural women. Ugandans come from all over to learn how to make wine, grow mushrooms, create crafts, play instruments, and learn computer skills. The organization also does outreach to people who are interested in training but cannot reach the site.
The students get some training on how to dance
Day 3 in Kampala: We finally meet our Ugandan partners!
Due to a faculty strike at Makerere University, the Ugandan students were stuck in exams for the first two days of the program. We finally got to meet them though and started getting to know each other by playing a few games.
In the first game students are blindfolded. They have to find a ball and hit the person on the other team using directions from their teammate.
Group photo with our Ugandan students at Ndere Cultural Center after the Orientation.
After the orientation we braved Owino market in downtown Kampala for a scavenger hunt. It wasn't a market you walk through but one that pulls you in. Vendors try to sell you their wares and everywhere we went we heard "Muzungu!!". Smells came in all directions, both good and horrible. The American students really struggled with bargaining and the Ugandan students said they had never had so much attention in the market before.
That night we enjoyed a wonderful performance by the Ndere Dance Troupe! The troupe showcased dances from regions all over Uganda and the surrounding countries. At the end we all joined the dancers for a final dance.
Day 4, 5, and 6: Off to Rakai
We arrived in the rural district of Rakai (southwest Uganda) for our home stays. Everyone spent the first evening meeting their home stay families and neighbors.
Mariel, Maryalice, and Sara meeting their host mother.
We launched right into lectures the following morning to learn more about Rakai district, the history of the Rakai Health Science Program, HIV/AIDS, and mental health services. In the afternoon we were lucky enough to see one of the programs in action. Mwami Mutembe or "stylish man" is a program aimed at engaging men in their own health decisions and they were hosting an extravaganza in a village nearby.
Finally, students had the opportunity to meet local experts in their topic area (malaria, orphans and vulnerable children, HIV/AIDS, water and sanitation, nutrition, maternal and child health, alcohol and other drugs). In the afternoon students worked hard to complete a service project painting the classrooms at a local school.
Sarah and Emily painting the windows Tanner and Maryalice painting a giraffe in P5.
As much fun as this update has been, future blog posts will be about the topic areas.