Tuesday, September 20, 2011

British/Uganglish-American English Translations

You know that you've been living in Uganda a while when you naturally start asking your neighbor "Are you picking me?" or claiming to a friend "Ah, you are deceiving me" as part of your everyday vocabulary. The following are either British sayings spoken in Uganda or Ugandan adaptations of British English that I have repeatedly heard since arriving in-country. Some sayings are widely spoken throughout Uganda; others are uniquely spoken primarily in my village.

(a) Sweets
(b) Chips
(c) Crisps
(d) Biscuits
(e) Torch
(f) Rubbish
(g) Football
(h) Trousers
(i) Videos
(j) "Are you picking me?"
(k) "Extend"
(l) "Why do you fear talking to me?"
(m) "You are deceiving"
(n) "I will ring her"
(o) "You look fat"
(p) "You've been lost"
(q) "I am fair"
(r) "Mind the dog"

(a) Candy
(b) French fries
(c) Chips
(d) Cookies
(e) Light
(f) Trash
(g) Soccer
(h) Pants
(i) Movies/TV shows
(j) "Are you understanding me?
(k) "Move over"
(l) "Why are you afraid to talk to me?"
(m) "You are lying"
(n) "I will call her"
(o) "You look healthy/strong"
(p) "You've been gone/away"
(q) "I am okay"
(r) "Avoid/be aware of the dog"

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Travel Fever

What are the benefits of roughing it for two years of service as a Peace Corps volunteer in a developing country?

1. The opportunity to make a significant impact in the lives of others.
2. The opportunity for cultural exchange and understanding.
3. The opportunity to learn and become fluent in another language.
4. The opportunity for introspection, soul searching, and to truly learn about oneself.
5. The tangible benefits of deferred student loans, readjustment allowance (about $7,400), accrued vacation days during service (2 vacation days per month of service), and medical, dental, and health insurance.
6. The opportunity to travel after service.

This post concerns the last of the six. Yes, I know it's still relatively early into my service. Without a doubt, I'm going to miss waking up to the sounds of dog barks, goat cries, knocking children pleading for candy, and singing from morning mass every morning, greeting every person that I walk past with "yoga noi," being the only muzungu in my village, getting asked at least five times a day for money, and maintaining a much healthier diet than I do in the States. I'm going to miss the utterly ridiculous but comical stereotypes Ugandans maintain about Americans, the quirks of Ugandan culture that I still have yet to understand, and the opportunity to speak a language other than my native dialect "reasonably" well. But admittedly, one year into my Peace Corps service at site, I'm already salivating over the opportunity and options available to me for post-COS (completion of service) travel.

Those who know me best know my passion for traveling. For me, planning a trip and the anticipation of the trip are as fun as the trip itself. I love the challenge of immersing in another culture. I love the challenge of having to converse with locals in a language that I don't understand. I love venturing into the unknown. I love touring bustling cities, beautiful landscapes, iconic landmarks, historical monuments, and world heritage sites. For me, as confirmed on my trip last month to Zambia and Kenya, traveling is one of my biggest passions.

Even better, at each training group's COS conference, Peace Corps offers volunteers a cash in-lieu option in place of a plane ticket home (a refund of the value of the plane ticket). Peace Corps also gives volunteers 1/3 of their readjustment allowance, about $2,000, two weeks before they leave their country of service. So I could possibly have about $4,000+ that I can use for travel after service.

I've very briefly started planning my post-COS trip. It looks something like this:

Uganda to Egypt (Cairo, the Nile River, Luxor)
Egypt to Israel (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea)
Israel to Turkey (Istanbul)
Turkey to India (Delhi, Jaipur, Agra)
India to Thailand (Bangkok)
Thailand to Cambodia (Siem Reap/Angkor)
Cambodia to U.S.A.

This itenerary is very much in the planning stages, and likely to be altered. Any travel ideas or feedback are welcome and certainly appreciated.

A Repaired Borehole and Filtered Water for All

It has been a busy couple of weeks since returning from Kenya and bidding farewell to my parents.

My first order of business was trying to get the borehole adjacent to the health clinic repaired so that people in the village wouldn't have to carry dirty water long distances (2km each way to and from the well, the only water source in the immediate area) anymore. When I first arrived at site, I was informed that both a district health team from Bukedea and a mechanic from Kampala previously tried to fix the borehole, but they were unsuccessful in their attempts. The borehole was therefore presumed "dead," and left untouched.

Flashback to August 3, the afternoon before I flew out of Uganda to meet my parents in Johannesburg. Upon arrival at the hotel in Entebbe, I met Jack Rose and Martha McBride, as well as Dennis, from Raincatcher and Water 4 Everyone. The team traveled from the U.S. to Uganda, dedicated to the sole purpose of bringing clean and safe drinking water to all, to distribute and train community members how to use Sawyer water filters. After demonstrating to me firsthand the brilliance of the filter - within seconds, it purified dirty, brown water crystal clear - Jack and Martha gave me a filter to bring back to the health clinic and to the people of Kachumbala.

It then occurred to me that if I could get the borehole fixed, people could literally fetch a cup or jerry can of borehole water, and walk, not even 50 feet, to the clinic to filter it.

Fast forward to August 18, when I arrived back at site. After a week of repeated calls and "when can you come?" texts, I finally was able to get a certified mechanic from Bukedea to come with his team to assess the repairs needed to fix the borehole. It turned out that one cracked pipe was the only problem. One cracked pipe that caused a primary water source for hundreds of people to malfunction for 10+ months.

8 hours later? A repaired borehole that was fully funded (90,000 UGX, $35-$40) by the community.

This past Friday, Dennis from Raincatcher and I held a training session on how to use the Sawyer water filter, cleaning water straight from the newly-repaired borehole. The highlight for me was at the end of the training, when one person commented, "I have never seen water so clear before." One filter was given to the health clinic, another to Kongunga Secondary School (the school I teach at), two others to training attendees from villages within the Kachumbala subcounty, as well as a Nike soccer ball to my S3 English class.

Thanks to Jack, Martha, Dennis, and everybody else at Raincatcher for bringing clean water to Kachumbala!