It amazes me that we have only been working with the community for only three days! We’ve been very productive in the past couple of days. Unfortunately, our first attempt at water quality testing didn’t turn out exactly as we planned. This morning, the petri dishes had a pretty awful smell and the bags we thought would keep the samples at the right temperature were no longer warm. On the bright side, Professor Swan finally got to eat his cornflakes and milk this morning – an American staple that he’s been missing. We left the Nyondo house around 10 to meet at the prenyende and begin meeting with the community. Timothy, Florence’s son showed up at the house to walk with us to Shilongo and ended up staying with us the entire day.
Once at the prenyende, we found Rogers and Fred waiting for us. They went around the community with us, helping to translate and provide helpful commentary and feedback. Matt and I worked together today, moving from house to house to meet with members of the community closest to Nashiloholo. Misaki also went to speak with community members near the spring and even met a woman with two solar panels on her roof that help to power her radio and some of the lights within her house. Speaking with the community was very informative even though we didn’t travel around with any survey material. We were trying to keep conversations as casual as possible because we wanted candid and honest answers. It was also a lot of fun and a great opportunity to become closer to the community. Misaki asked each family she visited to teach her a word in Lugisu, Matt perfected his Lugisu which charmed many of the people we talked to, and I learned about the local agriculture and livestock – I even got to hold a baby goat!
After speaking to the community for the majority of the morning, we returned to the house for lunch and to discuss what we had learned. Timothy followed us back, had lunch with us, and taught us a new card game called “Pick and Play”. Since our water quality tests weren’t very successful, we decided to go back into Shilongo and gather more samples.
Timothy was our tour guide the entire way and he was diligently followed by George, Patrick’s son. Our first stop was Itsakuni where a woman named Lydia taught me how to make a sun hat from local plants. Our guides even pointed out Kenya from where we were walking and I was so surprised by its close proximity. As we went to the other water sources, we were entertained by the two boys that played tag with us and laughed when we imitated the various animals around the community. Timothy even showed us the source for both Nashiloholo and Muswema which was important for us to understand how water is delivered to those water sources and what we can do to make any improvements.
All of our days have felt simultaneously long and short. We have been really busy everyday, we estimated that we walked about 5 or 6 miles today! At the same time, we are already planning ahead to the day that we have to leave the village and everyone who asks when we are leaving says that we are staying too short. For me, I feel grateful that I got the opportunity to travel here every time I look at the landscape around me. Uganda and Shilongo in particular is breathtakingly beautiful, I keep getting laughed at by the community when I stop walking just to stare at everything around me.