Author: Misaki Nozawa
Meetings and Greetings
| January 7, 2012 | 3:11 am | Uncategorized | 289 Comments

We started our second day in Shilongo with a 9 o’clock water board meeting at the prenyende, which of course meant 10:30 in Ugandan time.  While we waited for all the water board members to arrive, we enjoyed the beautiful view of the village and practiced our Lugisu with people who passed by.  I also got a chance to play with Alan and Atha, who I met in August, and catch up with their mom.  Alan and Atha’s baby brother, Samson, grew so much since the last time I saw him!

One by one the members arrived and Matt and Alyssa got a chance to meet them.  As chairman of the board, Jude explained to us what had happened with the bike and tank system after our departure in August.  We discussed the major issues with the system and what steps should be taken next.  The meeting was really productive and we got valuable information and input from the board that will be crucial to our progress.

After the meeting, all the water members and Vincent, the chairman, took us on a border tour of Shilongo.  Starting at Muswema, we worked around the entire perimeter of the village and stopped by all of their water sources.  As we trekked through the expansive land that is Shilongo, we learned about all their plants in the gardens.  At one point, Vincent and Richard showed us how they use common plants to make rope!  Near by Muswema, Richard made us a hat out of leaves and sticks, and for the remainder of the walk, we all took turns wearing it.  Matt even got a house tour from a couple that lives near Muswema.

In the afternoon, we decided to go off on our own to the water sources and collect water samples.  Unlike the hot morning, the weather was slightly cooler making it easier to move around the village.  We went around to Muswema, Nabubolo, Nashiloholo, and the borehole to collect the samples and to dimension the spring boxes.  While we were at the borehole, I finally got to catch up with Michael, who was not around at the meeting in the morning.

After a long day, we returned to the house around six but we still had more work to do! We immediately started the water quality test even though the power was out.  So for the next couple of hours, we tested the samples lit by our headlights and candles.

It was such a great day for us!  Matt and Alyssa got to meet many of the people that they have heard extensively about from all the past travel members, and I got to see everyone who I had met in August!  Even though I was here for three weeks in August, the travel team never had much time to relax and do an extensive tour of the village like this one so it was great.  We hope our remaining days as just as exciting as this one!

First Day in Shilongo
| January 4, 2012 | 8:51 am | Uncategorized | 51 Comments

We woke early this morning to singing from the church just across the street and a few roosters announcing the day. After a nice breakfast of toast, jam, tea, and sweet bananas, (‘kamamua’ in Lugisu, as we learned this afternoon), we met Vincent and Father John in the yard, before heading down the road into Shilongo with Vincent. The weather was perfectly warm but not hot as the shadows behind us got shorter and the sun, higher. We made our way down to the borehole, meeting people along the way, practicing our shoddy Lugisu, which certainly improved throughout the morning as everyone we met was really friendly and helpful as we stumbled through conversation. Shouts of ‘Mulembe!’ or ‘hello’ in English was the dominant greeting and along with a wave and a smile was seemingly a sure way to receive a large grin and a returning welcome.
We ran into Juda at the borehole and set up a meeting with the ‘water board’ for tomorrow morning at the Punyende, a community meeting place under a large tree. After the meeting we’re planning to see more of the village and start talking with people about how we’ll move forward with the project. Misaki continually reconnected with people from the implementation trip in August, and scheduled some card games for later with Rogers. Vincent took us over to see Florence, but along the way, pointed out all sorts of fruits and vegetables, explaining what they were, what they were called in Lugiso, and perhaps best of all, picking some that were in season and letting us taste them. As we walked through various gardens, we found gigantic avocados, sweet bananas, plantains (‘matoke’), baby green eggplant, tomatoes (‘zinyanya’), mangoes (‘kumuyembe’), Irish potatoes (‘komapoli’) , sweet potatoes (‘kamamui’), kasava, a white root that’s a bit sweet and nut like to taste, coffee beans, passion fruit (‘bitunda’), oranges (‘kumuchungwa’), and a host of other interesting and tempting plants. The most common question of Vincent quickly became, “Can you eat that?”
As Misaki reunited with Florence amidst wide smiles, Professor Swan was checking out some of the clay stoves with Vincent. Not far from there, some of the same red dirt, mixed with water, was being put to use as the base of a two room addition to a nearby house. We met some of Vincent’s relatives before heading back to Nyondo for another delicious meal prepared by David and James, and after are planning to meet with Samuel and Richard from FDNC to go over our plan for this trip. We’re really hoping to lay out a solid plan with the community so our short time here can be spent most effectively.
We’ll likely be back in Mbale in the next few days, so hopefully we should be able to get a few more blog posts put up to keep everyone in the loop. Excited for the days to come!

The Start of the New Year
| January 4, 2012 | 8:50 am | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

We started our long journey to Shilongo on January 1st, flying from JFK to Amsterdam. After getting in earlier than we expected, we visited Professor Swan in the airport after he had gotten off of two flights and was planning on getting on two more! We were all under the impression that our flight would be going from Amsterdam straight to Entebbe, Uganda but the flight was actually scheduled to stop in Kigali, Rwanda before continuing to Entebbe. Confused but sure that they wouldn’t allow three passengers to board the wrong flight, we relaxed and passed the 10 hour flight by making friends with our neighbors, reading, and watching movies.
We arrived in Entebbe after Professor Swan and were worried about meeting up with him but he had cleverly made a sign that said “Swan” so we wouldn’t miss him. We all finally got to meet Samuel and our driver Fred. Misaki was welcomed very warmly by Samuel who was so happy to see a traveling member of EWB return. After settling in at the Entebbe flight motel, Misaki and I discovered that there was hot water to shower with. It was such an unexpected luxury and really cherished after two days of traveling.
After a good night’s rest, we got up early to have breakfast at the motel and begin our journey to Mbale, and eventually, Nyondo. We got a few essentials in Kampala before continuing to Mbale. Samuel was so helpful with getting everything that we needed for our stay, I really appreciated his knowledge of the best local stores and his ability to bargain. We stopped for lunch on the way and got to try some local dishes. Matt was the most adventurous and tried posho (millet), matoke, and pilau (rice with beef) – all traditional Ugandan foods. Once we arrived in Mbale, we visited FDNC where we signed their guest book and looked back at some of the other entries that other traveling members had made. Then, we stopped at the market and purchased food for the week. Everywhere we have gone, Matt has managed to find passion fruit. He has ordered passion fruit juice, bought passion fruit at the supermarket, and even bought it fresh at the market. His reasoning? “It’s a natural aphrodisiac!”
The drive out to Nyondo was bumpy as the roads got worse as we got farther from Kampala and Mbale, but we got our first glimpse of Mount Wanali, the first mountainous terrain we have seen. During the drive, Professor Swan kept commenting on the redness of the soil, I think he’s planning on sneaking some back into the United States. Once at Nyondo, we were amazed at how beautiful the house we are staying in is. It’s spacious and clean, with hot water too! We’re really being spoiled. David and James are helping out around the house again, they were very happy to see Misaki – everyone was! They cooked us a delicious meal of rice, carrots, and chipati. It was my first experience with chipati and it really is as good as everyone claims it is.
As we were planning out our schedule for the next week and a half, we realized how little time we actually have in the village and are already sad at the thought. We can’t wait for what this next week will bring and will keep you updated as often as we can.

Rain, rain, go away…
| August 13, 2011 | 10:01 am | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Today we started off once again with rain. In the time it took us to walk from the house to the Shilongo village we went from a mere mist to a downpour. Thank goodness George invited Erin C., Erin F., and John into his house for shelter. Most of the morning was spent waiting for the rain to subside. The afternoon was productive, as the community members dug the area under the spigots for the jerry cans. They also “drilled” (aka pounded a metal rod with a hammer) into the bricks to place the pipes and the spigots. After lunch, we worked with them to do both the inner and outer layers of cement for the walls of the tank. The next steps for tomorrow will be to get big enough wire mesh and wood for a frame to pour the concrete cover for the tank. We also hope to set up the spigots and finalize the base of the tank.

While all of the construction was occurring in the village, Misaki and Cliff spent the first part of the day in Mbale, gathering nearly all of the remaining materials, including flexible tubing for the water. When they returned, Misaki joined the village for the final aspects of building while Erin C and Erin F went to another serving committee meeting at the local school. Cliff and Greg returned to the PONT-Uganda machine shop to cut the threaded rod and rectangular steel pieces. While there, Cliff went with Julius, the head mechanic at Pont, to Mbale to get a special part to hold the shaft attached to the sprocket.

Overall, today was a successful today considering the weather. The travel team deserves a “watchenyala” (well done!)

Until next time,
John, Misaki, Cliff, Erin C., Erin F., Greg

(We are still working to get some pictures up!)