I’ve just about got 1 week down in Uganda, but since it’s Sunday I’ll go ahead and say it’s been one week. Don’t confuse this with that Bearnaked Ladies song “One Week” like I did. As soon as I thought about how long I’ve been here I was like it’s been one week and then it was followed by “since you looked at me”. There was an occasional “chinese chicken, you have a drumstick and your brain starts ticking, watching X-files with the lights on.” Whatever, I need to get back on track.
It’s been pretty good so far. I know I will definitely not starve for those of you who thought I would starve. They pile it on the plates and the food is delicious. Also a cold shower is king here. Without it you can’t sleep, unless you like all of your extremities to stick to one another from all of the sweating you’ve done throughout the day. Wednesday we got up and did some East African orientation. In the afternoon we took a tour of our neighborhood in Kansanga. Kansanga is a really good transition area for people who are from the country and tend to experience anxiety around rather large crowds (I’m talking about large crowds, high density. I’ll touch on that later.) There are a few missionaries and upper class citizens who reside in this neighborhood. It’s extremely laid back and every now and then you have to jump to the side of the road to not clipped by a car or boda (motorcycle). It’s pretty dusty and it feels pretty rural for it to be in the city. Every morning so far I’ve heard a rooster crow when dawn breaks. You’ll see cows and goats every now and then. I feel comfortable so far here. I’ll have pics of the neighborhood as well as the office on here later. On Thursday we did more orientation. There was a really interesting point made by one of the staff about giving. It is that EMI EA discourages direct contribution to the poor unless they are disabled. Unfortunately, many folks around here have found ways to capitalize on generous hearts and abuse the money given to them. They encourage contribution to ministries and churches who serve the poor in order to guarantee that the money is not used in ways that lead to exploitation of children, women, etc. and that welfare is not encouraged as the only way out of poverty. It was a great point. I had really never thought of that before. Giving is a little more complicated here in Africa. You must be very careful.
Friday we headed to downtown Kampala. We got on a matatu (taxi that holds 14 per regulation, but you can always get more in there.) We got stuck in a traffic jam outside of downtown. I think I could have gotten out and made it downtown before the bus did. While we were waiting for the bus to move there were several different children who walked up to the bus and begged for money. It was pretty tough not giving them anything even though I had nothing that would immediately solve their problems (food). All I had was 3 one hundred dollar bills in my pocket and I don’t think that would have been a wise decision to flash that on the taxi nor give that to a child, especially who was more than likely hustling. It’s probably similar to the movie “August Rush.” There are children who play music in different parts of the city for money and they have a guy (Robin Williams) who takes their money. Robin Williams’ character then supplies them with bad housing and food every now and then. The only difference is that it’s the Africa version and it’s much more harsh. So I found myself talking to the next one after the first child figured out I wasn’t going to give him anything. I have a little brown mole/freckle on the center of my right hand and so while I was talking with this kid through the open window she reached in and started trying to scratch it off. I thought that was really interesting. I guess she had never noticed brown on a white person or maybe she thought I was black underneath. At least I have a good number of starting points for scratching the white off. Traffic started moving again and we eventually headed towards K-Town. As we got further into the city I thought to myself about how glad I was that we weren’t stopping here and then there because of the amount of people in the small spaces. Finally one of those spots that I was glad we weren’t getting off at became our stop. I stumbled out of the taxi onto a broken side walk while trying not to violate others personal bubble. That soon became an unattainable goal. I think personal space in Uganda is defined as nobody in your face. After having an anxiety attack for 10 seconds I took a deep breath and mentally joined my group on a scavenger hunt which was pretty tricky since there are very few street signs throughout the city. We did get to see a good portion of the city and I came to the realization that I probably want to minimize my trips to K-Town. I’ll probably only go back for the craft market on Fridays. It’s definitely the densest city I’ve been to. It beats out Rome, Milan, Naples, Venice, Tegucigalpa, and Lima.
Now for Saturday. We went to Jinja, which is 2 hours via car from the Kansanga neighborhood in Kampala for a tour of the projects EMI is managing the construction for. We visited an auditorium, an orphanage located on the banks of the Nile, and a large orphanage on a large portion of land where a house for missionaries is being built. The missionaries will help with the kids. All of these projects were designed by EMI and the love of the Lord is shared throughout the construction phase. The construction manager, Steve Hoyt told us that he concentrates on treating the construction workers like family. He tries to teach them to take value in their work and how they can be Christian men and provide for their families. He said that he can recognize better work from the men as the project progresses. It was pretty interesting to see that. I have a number of pictures on Facebook. I’ll leave the link below. The trip to Jinja was a very enjoyable day.
Today we went to church. It was pretty great. The singing was inspiring and you could tell none of the members were doing it for show. The preacher also had a great message which I wasn’t expecting. It was about as complex as many I went to growing up. He was telling us that when you’re a Christian you need to act like one. Act like you actually love the Lord. We were greeted by several members after the service and then we met the preacher. Just like all of the preachers in America he tended to talk a lot <—- Joke. It was great getting to talk to him. He was very knowledgeable. We walked about 1.5 miles to go eat and shop for groceries. After we were done we got some gelato. Very good. Then we came back and cooked a little later.
The title comes from me wanting to speak Spanish to the locals here. Hola means hello in Spanish. Ki Kati means what’s up in Luganda. So far this has been a great experience and I cannot wait to get involved with a ministry around here. Oh yeah and I’m ready to start engineering stuff. Please look at my pictures on Facebook. Click this. http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2557941&id=27403990&fbid=930506715195