Schedule and host family 101
This week marked our first full week of work at the Organization for Rural Development (ORUDE). The week passed quickly, and we’re all motivated to make the most of our short time in Uganda. Time ticks differently here, slower. Simple things such as bathing and getting to work take longer, making us aware of the likely danger that we won’t achieve all of our team goals.
By my observation, every meal takes at least two hours to prepare. Even having a pee means (a) going to the back door armed with tp, (b) switching from house slippers to outdoor slippers, (c) walking across often muddy yard to latrine, (d) doing your thing, (e) walking back to house, brush off feet at steps, (f) switching back to house slippers. Doesn’t seem like much, but when all those simple actions you rush in the US aren’t so simple, the time adds up.
My schedule looks like this:
7 – wake up; tie away mosquito net; make bed tightly so bugs don’t crawl into the sheets
7:15 – grab towel, tp, toothbrush/paste, face wash and bedpan to empty and rinse outside. My family does not use indoor running water.
7:40 – get dressed for work (knees covered, shoulders covered, no trousers, everything ironed); sunblock; bugspray; pack work bag and lunch; eat breakfast
8 – say goodbye to family (very important) and leave house; walk 10-15 minutes to a taxi; take 30-minute-long ride to work
8:30 – walk from taxi stop to work (about 15 mins), while informing LOADS of motorcycle and bicycle taxis that, “tienda, mzungu will walk.” (tienda = “no.” mzungu = “white person”)
9 to noon – administrative work with team at ORUDE. Working through project proposal, doing any computer or planning work; meetings with program coordinators.
Noon to 2 – ample lunch/story telling break. We often do extra work during this time. Additionally, we laugh at each other’s experiences and occasionally chase the chickens that sometimes wander into ORUDE’s gated front yard.
2 to 5:30 – GOING INTO THE FIELD!! We ride on the back of a truck over some pretty backcountry roads into the villages; meet people in microcredit savings groups; attempt to introduce ourselves in Lusoga; often sample fruits from farmers’ fields
5:30 – get dropped off in JinjaTown; snack/Internet/market break before returning home
7:30 – return home; greet family
8:00 – take “tea” with family (tea and milk with whitebread and margarine or fruit, usually); watch TV; show family photos from day in field; do any remaining work; help around house, although my family generously does most work for me
10 – dinner (matooke mashed plaintains, white rice, a spinachy dish, kidney beans, goat); practice Lusoga, making family laugh heartily; take malaria meds
10:45 – go outside to bucket bathe, if bathing is necessary (*note* by Ugandan standards, I am very dirty. Many bathe two or three times daily, and I’m an every-other-day lady).
11:15ish – reading, writing, music, sleep
I haven’t talked much about my family yet, but I love them dearly. Joy (who I erroneously reported as being 24… she is actually 25) has become a true friend. We’ve been sharing photos and stories, and asking each other advice. She invited me out for a drink on Thursday so I could meet some of her friends. She watches out for me, and treats me naturally, instead of as a burden tagging along.
I have two host brothers, one of whom does not live at home. The one who does, Eric, is 19 (I think), interested in politics, and does lots of housework. It is Eric who scrubbed my muddy sandals and ironed my clothes. He also helps with dinner and the wash. This made me try to even IMAGINE my younger brothers doing the same, but… after much effort… I could create no such images. Eric asks me many things about the U.S. and the news, and my knowledge of African history and government.
My host mother is a nurse who takes special care to serve me foods after we’ve discussed them. For example, I told her how Nebraska (my home) is famous for corn, and we ate maize at tea the next night. She found out I’d never tried jackfruit and packed some in my lunch the next day. She laughs often, and I suspect does not understand my English as easily as Eric, Joy, or Diana, the other daughter who lives at home. Diana (21?) works at a pharmacy in a market in Jinja, often leaving early and getting home late, so I haven’t gotten to know her as well yet. There is another brother, Andrew, and two sisters, Lydia and Angella, with whom I’m waiting to get acquainted.
Of all the new "times’ we’ve been dealing with, my times at home are consistently among my happiest.