Author: Scott McArthur
Home Away From Home
| May 22, 2010 | 11:17 am | Uncategorized | Comments closed

Hello,

We had another successful day talking with members of Shilongo. The people are becoming more and more open with us, as we strengthen our relationships each and everyday. For the past six nights ever since we arrived in Mbale we have been staying in a place called Nytondome, at a FDNC compound that hosts their band, vocational school, special needs primary school, and arts and crafts center. It is a quaint place with amazing people. We are looked after by a man named Pore (pour-eh), who takes care of us, making himself available to us for our every need. He is a quiet spoken man with the kindest manners. He speaks pretty good English, but is learning more, and also teaching us Lugisu. We are cooked for by an elderly woman named Jessica Watulatsu. She is also very kind and visits with us during breakfast, afternoon tea, and dinner. There is a young boy by the name of Emma who lives at the compound and serves as our entertainment around the clock. He is about 4 years old, full of energy, has a big smile, and loves the attention. It has been a wonderful stay thus far.  Living without electricity, running water, and all those other distractions reminds us how powerful and amazing a conversation between people can be. Tomorrow we will move homes to a parish in Shilongo, and although we are going to miss the comfort and people at Nytondome, we are excited to further immerse ourselves in Village life and culture. Because of this move, we may not be able to access internet as often, but will do our best to keep you updated.

Below are a few pictures we have taken, and we promise to post more as we are able.

…on second thought… the connection is not fast enough to upload pictures. We will do our best to post some soon.

 Until next time, take care and Alinde (Bye!).

And The Project Begins
| May 19, 2010 | 10:34 am | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Hello Everyone,

We have made our way back to another Internet cafe in Mbale city. The five of us are leaning over each others shoulders in this crowded cafe trying to find the best way to shorten everything that is happened the last two days.

We had our first interaction with Shilongo yesterday afternoon. We were warmly welcomed by the community as a whole. We had introductions first, followed by some brief discussion that was translated by Janet from FDNC. The staff of FDNC has turned out to be a godsend for us. The language barrier is quite a challenge; however, we are doing our best to learn Lugisu. The meeting was very successful and the community showed lots of engagement in the project.  There were some surprises that came out during oyur discussion, reminding us that things  can look much different in person than on paper. There has been some recent government work to provide gravity fed water taps in the community. As we continue to interact with the community and learn of these things and other information, it will guide the shaping of our project.

Today, before returning to Shilongo, we had a busy morning meeting with local government officials. First we met with the District Water Officer of Mbale. He welcomed us and encouraged communication and collaboration between us and his office, specifically sharing our findings once we conduct a full work up on the water sources in Shilongo. We have no doubt that he will be a very useful resource in the future. Next we met with the Clerk to the Council in the Chief Administration Office of Mbale. He also welcomed us and was happy to hear about what we are doing. Our final meeting was with a man named Wakwabubi, who worked in the Community Development Office. He was again welcoming, and aligned with our mission of community ownership and responsibility for the project, as well as sustainability.

After our busy morning, we had lunch at FDNC, where we got to talk with the interns that are working with them from Uganda Christian University. They are all students our age and we had a lot in common. A few of them will be accompanying us to Shilongo to help translate. After a lunch of fresh pineapple and avocado, we headed to Shilongo.

We spent our time in Shilongo walking the village in two groups. Community leaders were showing us the multiple water sources used by the village. We took notes, pictures, and GPS points as we went. There is a variety of open sources in the village this time of year because of the heavy rains. There will be a lot of testing to do in the following days, and we plan on discussing the focus of the project as we progress.

All of the people we have met have been very welcoming and friendly. It is a beautiful country with a lot of character, but also a lot of need. We are learinng new things every day.  Goodbye for now.

From Entebbe to Mbale
| May 18, 2010 | 5:39 am | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Mulembe! (that means Hello in Lugisu)

We hope that you are enjoying our blog thus far- we have been fortunate in finding internet in Mbale, at a local Internet Cafe.

Today is our second day in Uganda, and so much has already happened. We spent yesterday traveling from Entebbe to Mbale. Before leaving Entebbe we had breakfast and then went to see Lake Victoria on our way to Kampala, the capital of Uganda. We spent two or so hours walking around the incredibly busy city while our van was getting fixed up by a mechanic. The city had the feeling of a rural New York  City, with lots of people, colors, and action going on.  Once the van was fixed, we packed back up and made our way north to Jinja.

In Jinja we visited the source of the Nile, and had lunch right on top of it- literally. It was another delicious Uganda meal, with Matoke (boiled and mashed plantains), rice, beans, goat meat, cassava root, pineapple, and watermelon. Lunch gave us our first taste of Ugandan time, as we had planned to be eating by 2:00pm, but did not end up eating until at 5:00pm. No matter, we are flexible and loving the relaxing time schedule they have here. It really puts the school year into perspective- especially finals time. When we got back in the van to travel our final leg to Mbale, we did our best not to fall asleep, so as to avoid jet lag. Some were successful, others not. The amazing landscape and short glimpse into the lives of the people we passed on the road was an experience not to be forgotten. We were all awed by the magnificence of the night as the stars shown bright above head. There are not streetlights on the way from Jinja to Mbale, so we were only greeted by headlights of frightful oncoming traffic on the seemingly one way road. But in the absence of traffic, the night was calm, quite, and peaceful.

After the long day of travel, we made it to Mbale, and found our way to the FDNC compound in Nytondome. We were greated by many FDNC people, who had prepared another traditional Uganda meal for us. We exchanged introductions and conversations over a hot cup of tea. We slowly made our way to our beds and fell into them with excitement for today.

Today we will be visiting Shilongo, meeting with the community leaders and making our first official connection with them as a village.

We hope everyone is doing well back home, and we once again appreciate all of your warm thoughts and strong support!

We hope to blog again soon.

Alinde!

Last Night at Tufts
| May 14, 2010 | 7:34 pm | Uncategorized | Comments closed

Hello! As we sit in the engineering building making final preparations for tomorrow, we thought it might be nice to introduce who will be traveling as we depart from Logan Airport at 6:50 pm tomorrow night. The travel team consists of myself  (Scott McArthur), Laney Siegner, Cristina Trevarrow, Dave Meyers, and Drew Fuchs. We are finally ready to take flight after months of preparations. We are very excited for what the next three weeks hold in store for us and we are doing our best to leave the country with open minds and very full stomachs. We are excited to have all of our supporters staying in touch with us via this blog while we are traveling. We will do our best to update it as often as we can, but please be patient and mindful as we may not have Internet access continuously. Here stands our first blog, coming from Tufts campus. Next time we write to you we will be on ground in Uganda!

The Travel Team

The Travel Team

From left to right: Cristina Trevarrow, Scott McArthur, Laney Siegner, Drew Fuchs, Dave Meyers