Author: Kevin Hebard
Greetings from Mbale
| May 16, 2014 | 11:04 am | Uncategorized | Comments closed

Sorry for the delay, but here is a two day old message from the travel team:

“Hey everyone! After three days of extensive travel we have finally
arrived safe in Mbale. The enormous malls and extravagant light shows
in Dubai contrasted with the bustling bus station in Kampala has left
us a bit shocked. Currently we are shopping for supplies in the city.
Dave and Aaron are out searching for solar panels, while Lily, Jenny
and I are with Rebecca shopping for food. We are extremely excited to
see Shilongo and meet the villagers.We’re surprised that Lily and I
haven’t been hit by a boda boda yet. We’ll keep you updated on our
work in the village!”
- Colin

 

Expect more updates soon!

Wise Words from Old Man John
| January 15, 2014 | 3:21 pm | Uncategorized | Comments closed

Hello everybody, this is John and I’m back on US soil, while the rest of the travel team is probably mid-trip as I’m writing this. It’s was a long, arduous trip back, about 40 hours door to door. It was also rather bittersweet to leave such a welcoming and caring community and a great set of students.

On my last night in the village, we decided to cook for our hosts and some of their neighbors. We decided that making pizza would be a unique treat for the people in the village. Kyle took command with his own personal pizza dough recipe (minus the yeast, which wasn’t available) and everyone participated in the preparation and cooking, all to a rousing success. It was a unique, flatbread style pan cooked pizza, that was delicious.  There was enough pizza to feed about 40 people, so it allowed us to provide some to more people.

The work with the tank was just about wrapped up, and I’m as eager as everyone else is to see how the final product turned out. I would like to take this opportunity to describe what a sincere pleasure it was to work with and get to know better everyone on the trip.  Each person had their own unique talents and gifts that made them a key part of the team. For the sake of brevity (i’m still jet-lagged) I’m not going to list everyone’s unique talents, but I found this group was full of highly intelligent, dedicated, hard-working, charming and truly endearing. We had plenty of laughs and formed a strong bond. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to work this team and I know the village was very lucky and appreciative to have them working on the village’s behalf.  I wish the travel team and safe and pleasant return and I look forward to getting back to work on the next phase of the project when they get back.

Classic Jenny
| January 11, 2014 | 12:47 pm | Uganda | Comments closed

Classic Jenny with the morning report:

Mulembe! While the Bostonians have been hit with snow, we have been graciously given constant 80 degree weather. (However, last night it got below 70 degrees so Rogers made sure to put on his winter coat.) Yet despite the heat, the tank construction is almost finished, with only the stairs left to go. Three engineers, along with some community members, work hard all day long. (That is, except for an hour-long morning boosela break) (I have no idea how to spell boosela/busala, but I do know that it is a home-brewed beer that must be drunk using a 2-meter long bendy straw).

After two community meetings earlier this week in which the muzungo (white people) outnumbered the community members present, the third time really was the charm. Abby, Kyle, and Jenny spent all day hanging signs for the meeting, which called for the villagers to attend and “keep time.” Apparently “keep time” means start the two hours later than schedule to give people time to meander in.  Once everyone was finally assembled, we discussed our current project, example future projects, and what exactly the children would wear while cleaning the tank. By the end of the meeting, all important matters were decided upon, and the annual group picture was taken.

As always, food was a very important and eventful part of the day. For dinner on Thursday, Rogers got us a chicken, which Kevin preceded to slaughter and pluck. Then, as Rogers took out the insides, we all got a very detailed science lesson on chicken anatomy. I can now confidently say that I can identify a chicken kidney, although I couldn’t tell you the first thing about cooking it.

For breakfast today (Friday) we made Rebecca, our gracious host, banana pancakes with m&m’s and maple syrup. Rebecca’s three little boys especially enjoyed the maple syrup, making sure not to waste a drop by wiping both hands over the plate and then licking their fingers. The boys were consequently bouncing off the walls (and us) all morning long. For dinner tonight we will attempt to make a pizza on a charcoal fire as part 2 of Americans Attempt to Cook.

Tomorrow morning John will be leaving us, by foot then bus then car then plane then car, done in no time at all! Although we will miss him, we know that he will be greatly enjoying his travels by thinking about his day-long plane ride being over.

Kyle, The Agriculturist
| January 8, 2014 | 3:04 pm | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Mulembe, from Kyle the Agriculturist (definitely my most PC nickname from this trip so far),

What a CRAZY couple of days! We’ve accomplished so much, it’s pretty hard to believe. Less than 36 hours ago, the tank was in the same state it had been for the past year – overgrown and unused. But thanks to both the wise guidance of Jude, Vincent, a few engineers (including an old man named John) and the indomitable work ethic of the local kids, we’re nearly complete with the tank renovations already. Beginning with yesterday afternoon, we laid siege to the tank roof and borehole-facing wall, gathered load after load of local bricks, and excavated the space surrounding the tank –and we all have the bruises and blisters to show for it! Tomorrow, we will be adding the last coats of cement, making the roof, and attempting to finish the steps and drainage ditch.

Other than the tankwork, we’ve also been busy finishing up our water sample collection efforts. After wandering about Shilongo for a couple of hours, the last of these samples were collected, incubated, and tested over the past 24 hours, and we’re eagerly waiting for the results. We’ve also been quite busy enjoying life out here to its fullest when we can, and we’re well on our way to having tried all of the local dishes. Trivia fact of the day: Rolexes aren’t just watches – they’re also delicious rolled-up omelets on chapatti (thanks Microsoft Word for the spelling help there). We haven’t had the energy for round two of our soccer matches, but we keep competitive over making best and worst jokes of the day (so far it’s a close tie between Kevin and Peter, but Kevin DID get ten points today for something… not sure of the conversion just yet – I’ll get back to you on how this may eventually add up).

The weather remains glorious – a very sleepable 60° at night, and a hot and sunny 85° during the day. Last night it rained for the first time since we got here – we all awoke to a barrage of raindrops on our corrugated tin roof – sounded louder than any rainfall I’d ever heard!

Anyways, I’m going to wrap this up here – Peter is giving me shifty looks as I type away, and we definitely have a bit of a trek home from Mbale with various comestibles. Hrm, not quite sure how to end this – since I started with the local greeting, it only makes sense to end it the same way! Unfortunately, this is something I haven’t learned yet… So, ___________________ (insert convincing surrogate for a Lugisu good-bye!).

 

Jesus Was Afraid of Spiders Too
| January 6, 2014 | 12:51 pm | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Life according to Peter Lewis:

The first day we met our host family. A 4 year old named Arthur
instantly started grabbing Kevin, Peter and Kyle’s faces screaming
“moon wan wah!” (it means beard in lugisu). Now all but Kyle have
shaved to avoid the aggressive hair yanking. The host family is
awesome and the meals have been delicious.
After settling down the first day, Timothy, a native Shilongan, gave
us a tour of all the water sources of Shilongo. Each source was marked
with a GPS unit to provide mapping information.
John arrived in Shilongo on Friday, bringing all kinds of joy. In fact
within the first couple of days, a soccer match was played with the
community. Have no fear; the talents of John and Peter were
brilliantly displayed as both scored goals in the smallest goal ever
made. The Shilongons particularly enjoyed John’s cartwheel and Peter’s
somersault celebrations.
The water board met with us and we discussed tank renovations. Due to
misunderstood priorities, the design was altered to make a bigger tank
with a smaller wall. For those that don’t know, the wall was for
keeping the children from playing on the tank. Everyone is happy with
the design and construction should start tomorrow.
The whole travel team attended church on Sunday, with the group
splitting so that two church services were attended. It was pretty
chill. The dancing and singing was excellent.
Last night, another meeting took place with our FDNC contact Samuel
and members of the community. This conversation focused on the future
of EWB’s relationship with Shilongo and ensuring our projects
positively impact the community as we planned. Obviously it is very
important the community actually wants and needs the projects we
implement to ensure sustainability.
The company for providing power to the borehole and the company that
installed the borehole were both visited. The borehole company gave
us all their data for one of the boreholes in Shilongo which we are
excited about.
Obviously this is just a brief summary, but for those who really love
us, here are updates.
Kyle: The count is 23. Due to Kyle’s appearance he has been dubbed the
brother of Jesus by many members of the community. Kyle, perhaps
taking this too much to heart, sat on a pile of thorns not realizing
the thorns were supposed to be made into a crown to put on his head.
Also he is deathly afraid of spiders. He made our host dad Samuel go
into the latrine and burn the spiders because he was visibly
terrified. By the way, Kyle grew up on a farm and had a pet chicken he
carried around in his backpack. He would get and eat ice cream with
this chicken, literally sharing the ice cream. He then ate his pet
chicken for dinner and was traumatized. Kyle is also trying to pioneer
the term “weekend dad” which no one knows what it means. It is not
catching on. Kyle won’t let anyone forget he loves agriculture.
Kevin: Kevin is a man of science. In need of a control for the water
tests, he found goat poop and made a special homebrew concoction.
Apparently it’s a family recipe.   His shoulder is intact and doing
well and he particularly enjoys throwing Arthur around (all of us
do). His memory of Lugisu and due to the fact this is his second trip
to Shilongo have made him a huge hit in the community. The kids
particularly are fascinated by his leg and arm hair.
Abby: As stern as always, Abby continues to find Peter and Kevin the
least funny people on the planet. Even John has joined in the comments
about her seriousness. But don’t worry, sometimes if we try hard, we
can get her to smile. She is also the Queen of Tea and makes it for
Peter every time due to her talents.
John: As soon as John arrived, the potty humor came out. Just like
Benjamin Button, he’s becoming younger each and every day. He has
appointed himself judge of the day’s best jokes. Currently funny man
Peter is leading Kevin in the race for funniest man in Shilongo. As
said before, John scored a goal in soccer proving he still has the
athleticism of his youth. Don’t worry Alexia, he has already turned
down a Ugandan fiancé. Also John is trying hard to make everyone have
a Keisha quote of the day. It’s also not catching on.
Peter: After being called Mzungu (white man) over a hundred times in
three minutes (not exaggerating) Peter pondered his place in this
world where he was this Mzungu. However, after scoring a goal in
soccer (on team Moon wan wah) and being dubbed Mzungu lightning by
himself, Peter is doing just fine. He has become known in the
community for his inability to pronounce the “tz” sound and his
struggles learning Lugisu. Also a Shilongan friend named Fred has
promised him 7 wives.
Classic Jenny: Jenny has quickly proved herself the most popular
member in Shilongo. She is constantly being invited for meals in
people’s homes and is continuously stuck in long conversations with
random people. Jenny is an inquisitor. Perhaps her most poignant
question was directed at one of our friends Justine. She asked “how do
Ugandan people sound when they sneeze?” Classic Jenny.  Let’s just say
this question never got an answer. Due to her inablility to say no,
Jenny has found herself a born-again Christian who eats seven meals a
day. She even took candy from a stranger. But have no fear, everyone
in Shilongo loves her.

And that’s all folks.

The Mzungu Arrive
| January 3, 2014 | 9:03 pm | Uganda | 1 Comment

Post Author: Abby Barker

Mulembe!

We have officially settled in at Shilongo! Yesterday consisted of
travel, travel, and more travel – I met everyone at the airport on
Wednesday and we made it through customs without any issues, found our
driver, and headed to our hostel for the night. Everyone was a little
delirious on the drive there so we were happy to finally have real
beds to crash on, even if it was a short night sleep.

After a delicious breakfast (although unfortunately they did not have
chapati for breakfast, so sad), we drove to the bus station and took
the YY bus headed to Mbale. Five hot, sweaty hours later we arrived in
Mbale, and were greeted by even more sun, heat, and many curious
stares at the strange mzungu and all their luggage. Luckily we did not
have to wait long before Sam picked us up and drove us straight to his
house for an AMAZING lunch, which we ate in record time. Sam is really
great, and we discussed all the traveling he has done in the US, and I
think he may have visited even more states than I had! Before driving
to Shilongo, we stopped in mbale to pick up 6 mattresses and some bed
nets, then piled into the car on top of all our supplies (literally)
and headed south.

The drive was incredible – a perfect introduction into the village,
with the winding red dirt roads and rolling green hills, and the
silhouette of the giant mountain behind it all. When we pulled up in
front of Rebecca and Sam’s house, we were greeted by so many new
faces, and countless little kids all begging for our attention. They
quickly helped us unload the car and drop our stuff in our rooms, and
then we did some introductions. I tried very hard to remember each
name and face, but we will see if I am successful in the future! After
rice, beans, and delicious cabbage, we organized ourselves in our
rooms and promptly fell asleep (Kyle before anyone else).

First thing this morning, Peter and I embarked on our first run, which
was fantastic other than the fact that we must have gained at least
1000 ft of elevation in the 25 minutes before turning around. Some of
the people we passed found the running mzungu to be funny, others just
stared at us, unable to comprehend what was going on. On return, we
enjoyed a breakfast of chips (ie, french fries) and mango, then we got
the grand tour of all the water sources in the village from Timothy.
Again I was struck by the beauty of the whole town, and the way each
house and farm fit together seamlessly. I’m excited to be working here
and can’t wait to see what this week holds.

This afternoon we took a quick ride into town for some shopping and to
pick up John, who got in last night. Much more to come!

Goodbye and Happy New Year!
| December 31, 2013 | 2:39 pm | Uganda | 2 Comments

Post Author: Kevin

Today our team is saying goodbye to 2013 in America a few hours earlier than most. We will be flying out of Logan Airport at 6:45 PM and we won’t be back until 2014. It seems fitting for me to be returning to the place where I rang in 2013 to celebrate 2014’s arrival.

Last year our team had landed in Kampala at 11:30 PM December 31st and we were greeted with fireworks left and right, people dancing and yelling in the streets and a general chaos that was a little overwhelming but mostly amazing. This year we will be at cruising altitude above the Atlantic when 2014 rolls in.

The departure of one year and the arrival of the New Year is cause for reflection on yourself, how you’ve grown and where you want to be in the New Year. While I would have loved the opportunity to be with my friends and family to ring in the New Year, for me, there is no better way to reflect and celebrate than to return to Shilongo, Uganda. I feel like this year has been a year of tremendous growth for me, and it all started in Shilongo. My experience in Shilongo left me with many new friends and a new passion for our project and for development work in general. Creating this connection with the community has inspired me as a leader of our project and has forced my personal development. Inspired by a both a passion for our project and a fear of failing the community and Tufts students in our group, I have worked all year developing better organizational and leadership skills. Combine this drive with working my first 9-5 job and renting my first apartment and you have a transformative year.

I know I am not alone in being so impacted by EWB. Our trip is the culmination of a year of work by our whole chapter. Together we have researched, engineered, planned, raised funds and accomplished so much. While only five students from our group are departing on what is sure to be an awesome adventure, everyone who put effort into making this trip a reality has learned and grown through working on the project.

I think this is truly the value our project provides to our members and the community we work with. Every year we graduate members who have had life changing experiences with EWB and every year we need to send younger members to follow in their footsteps. Working on the project in the US builds a skillset and a knowledge base and an awareness that most students would have never been exposed to otherwise. Additionally, actually going to Uganda provides the travel team members with an extraordinary opportunity to make an impact on the community we work with and on themselves. I have had the good fortune of being able to travel twice and it’s had a tremendous impact on my life plans and worldview.

Hopefully our future blog posts will further detail the awesome experiences that I have only written about in generalities in this post. For logistical simplicity all of the blog posts will be published from my account but all of our travel team will be contributing to this blog. We will not have internet access except when we travel to town to buy groceries and supplies. So you can expect posts every 3 days or so hopefully.

I hope you all have a happy New Years Eve wherever and however you celebrate.