Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Meal of Firsts

After polishing up my basic Lugandan, with new phrases such as “Okuseera!” or “don't overcharge me,” I thought I was ready for the market. Our last night together as interns led us to the market, preparing a meal to serve for 35 people (this was also Jordan's going away party). I was appointed the 'chicken man,' and prepared a Chicken Raguu with tomatoes, onions, and carrots, and 'Southern Fried Chicken. Quick kitchen description - a smoky oven with a baby crying, an electric stove that barely functioned and another stove that was run by a propane tank (which soon ran out of gas), and a wonderful housegirl named Grace who showed me the ways of hacking a chicken – I would be understating the richness of this evening if I only called it a 'learning experience.' This was a complete immersion in Ugandan culture, beginning with the kitchen. I suppose you could say that my internship with St. Jude with be a transition to another core of Ugandan rural life, and that is the use of the land.

With orientation wrapped up today, discussing Budget and Work Plan preparation, I am more than ready.

I have arrived. The gates to my compound (literally) open up, and I am greeted by an open space, the chatter of chickens, dogs, and rabbits in the background, and the housekeeper 'Chaz' hammering in nails in a shed in the back. Unfortunately, Josephine Kizza is busy with meetings in Kampala, but even better – I have two mothers! Josephine's sister, Maria, or Mama Muto, greets me with her two god-children, 3 year-old Josephine and 4 year-old Paya. The children kneel down to me, and show such immense respect for those older than them. I am shown around the house, settling my things down into one of the girls' rooms. I soon realize that the house is not as full of children as I thought it would be – they are all away at school! Most children here attend boarding school, and two of Josephine's daughters have graduated from university and are already living in homes of their own in Masaka.

No matter – still such a beautiful home. Tiled floors, a nice television, accompanied by the traditional aspects of Ugandan life such as the kitchen, the tea (we have tea and biscuits at 6 PM and dinner at 8 or 9 PM!), and the family (the children sit on a straw mat on the tiled floor while the adults sit on couches). We watch TV, talk some, although Mama Muto's English is a bit rough, and I explain to here my passion for the simplicity of farming. I show her the hand-written card, thanking her, Josephine and the family for welcoming me, and she is pleasantly surprised (and entertained) to see that I have also written the letter in Lugandan.

I meet Frank, a local boy who works at St. Jude, and also Agee, a Japanese volunteer who has been here for 14 months and has his own farm nearby – these are experienced colleagues I will be working with. As I sit here writing this journal, the bugs begin to emerge and I must rest for the night – early morning tomorrow with tea at 7 AM and catching a ride with the St. Jude car to Masaka shortly thereafter. A thirty to forty minute drive is needed to get to 'downtown' Masaka, although that means a few main roads, dirty paths, and grassy hills. Look at the wonderful traditional shirt I bought today, only 7,000 shillings (about $3.50)!

Looking forward to the first day of work on Monday, and I will update you sometime next week.

Sula Bulungi (Good Night),


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