Tales of an intern in Uganda

Hello everyone!

I’m Lulu, one of the Educate! interns from Boulder, CO. I arrived about 3 weeks ago, and immediately headed to Mbale with Eric and his lovely mother Leslie. Mbale is beautiful—a small, more relaxed town at the foot of cloud-capped mountains—and was a really nice place to stay as I familiarized myself with the Ugandan swing of things. Eric took me to meet some leaders of the schools we either currently partner with or hope to partner with in the future, and during our off-time we hung out at our favorite restaurant, Hotel Eldima. We also found time to visit Sipi Falls, where we experienced not only the beauty of the falls, but also the most delicious chapati I have ever tasted. We have yet to find chapats as tasty as those.

We left Mbale on Fri and headed back to the guest house in Mukono to meet up with some other volunteers. After a crazy weekend (which included attending a Uganda vs. Niger football game and dancing the night away at a Kampala club) I decided I was officially an expert on Uganda and could take on some Educate! tasks independently. As Eric explained in the previous blog, my primary responsibilities for the summer relate to the mentor position we must fill before February. Applications are due at the end of the month, so I spent a bit of time traveling around to universities and hanging advertisements for the position. We have already been inundated with emails from interested students, and I’m really looking forward to the selection process.

Eric and I headed to Entebbe together to pick up Stacey and Julia from the airport, and after Stacey recovered from a brief spell of what a slightly “local” doctor claimed was Malaria, we made our way to the Educate! office for the night. At this point I should give kudos to Jay for finding such a fabulous house for us to invade: the place is about 20 min from downtown Kampala, and includes a beautiful garden boasting numerous fruit trees— two of which happen to be perfectly positioned for a slack line. Plus, we discovered a Rolex maker literally 2 min down the road, so it doesn’t get much better than this! The task now is to find furniture, appliances, food, and all the other supplies necessary to actually LIVE in the house, as opposed to camping in the living room as we are currently doing. Hopefully we can make our house classy enough by Friday, when we hope to have a house-warming party.

Two weeks ago, Stacey, Julia, Eric and I made the long journey to Kyangwali Refugee Camp to meet up with the Think Humanity volunteers, who came for a massive mosquito-net distribution. To describe the entire weekend at the camp would take days, but some highlights included attending a beautiful Ugandan wedding (congrats to JP!),  and hearing the COBURWAS members sing their hearts out. Being in the camp was a totally eye-opening experience for me, and I think it will take a while to process all the emotions I felt while interacting with the refugees. They are incredibly inspiring individuals for whom I have so much respect.

I think at this point I’m going to let Stacey and Julia give a little update, because there is still much to tell (small hint: it involves swallowing gallons of Nile River water). To end, I’d like to note that Helaina’s Luganda-English dictionary has taught me how to say a few key phrases in Luganda. Aside from the basics (hello, thank you, sir, etc), these include “go away,” “I don’t want it,” “are you mad?” and “why do you make children cry every day?”