The last time I was on American soil was exactly 2 months ago – May 17. I am in the middle of my 9th week in Uganda, and I love it. Still. This internship is awesome. It was like, “Hey Sarah, why don’t you travel to Uganda and do work you love with this amazing ministry? It’s paid for!” (The words in bold print describe some of the things that contribute to its awesomeness.)
It was almost easy to forget that I was actually doing this to complete a requirement for my master’s degree and I’m getting class credit. I enrolled in a summer term internship course to get that credit, and my assignments for the course were due this past Monday. I had to submit a 5-10 page report and a 30-50 slide PowerPoint presentation about my internship experience. The requirements were pretty simple, but I realized last week that I did not have everything I needed for the presentation.
I was supposed to include at least 5 pictures of myself in the PowerPoint among all the photos of my experience here. As I took inventory of my photos, I found I did not have enough pictures that included me. Luckily, I spent Thursday of last week at two of the farms, so while I was out, I got my picture taken a few times. That’s why it would appear that I dress the same every day, if you looked at the slide show. Here are those pictures.
Anyway, I finished the report and the slides and submitted them, and that’s the last thing I had to do to get my master’s degree. Now it’s up to OSU to confer the degree and mail the diploma!
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of desk work. My last post was about the challenges of finding input suppliers across cultures, and those difficulties still hold true. It has been further evidence of the truth of the old Mzungu adage: “Everything is harder here and it takes longer.”
Another project I’ve started is to research possibilities for Watoto Sustainability to expand into the production of foods for disaster or famine relief. We want to find out if dehydrated foods are a good potential business enterprise. The objective would be to help food crisis victims as well as help sustain Watoto Child Care Ministry.
Various organizations procure food and distribute it in areas experiencing a food crisis. Some try to purchase as much of the food as possible from developing countries to avoid further depressing the market there by importing the food from wealthy countries. Uganda truly is “the pearl of Africa,” and the excellent conditions for farming here make it a great place to purchase good food. Watoto could potentially become an excellent supplier of nutritious foods for food crisis relief efforts! I find this project very interesting, but it also involves a lot of time sitting and staring at a computer.
I did get to do something different last week, though! On Friday, I got to go to an annual agricultural trade show in Jinja. I was very impressed with the show, which lasts for a week. Vendors, government entities, and NGO’s begin preparing months before by planting demonstration plots. There were seed companies, equipment companies, and livestock breeders there.
Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organization had a large area where they displayed their new machines, information about plant varieties they have bred, and books.
Non-agricultural vendors were there too. Basically anywhere a crowd gathers here, there are people selling cokes, juice, food, and crafts. This leads to another highlight of the trade show: there were two vendors there (I never saw them, but I heard them) who played music like an ice cream truck plays. What songs do they play? One played Fur Elise. The other played My Heart Will Go On, of Titanic fame. A similar vendor makes its way around the neighborhood where I’m staying, playing a Christmas song about Santa Claus.
A few weeks ago, I said that church at Watoto reminds me of the student section at a major Texas Tech football game, because of how excited everyone is. The trade show reminded me of those football games in a different way.
I remember waiting in line to get into the stadium the day the Texas Tech Red Raiders beat the University of Texas Longhorns with a last-second touchdown in 2008. There was so much excitement before the game and there were so many people there, the line to get in was ridiculously crowded. When they opened the gates, the crowd compressed and pushed forward. Personal space was a happy memory. Walking in crowded areas here reminds me of that. I do not know what it was like all last week at the trade show, but on Friday when I went, there were what seemed like a billion school children there. In Uganda,
walking existing is a contact sport. People don’t wait in lines for their turn or walk respectfully around others in a crowd. Mzungus, including me, are surprised when they get in line somewhere and people step in front of them. People squeeze and shove their way wherever they want to go, because that’s the way things are done here.
That makes a lot of sense, too, when you observe traffic on the roads. The general rules for traffic are:
1) If there is room for your vehicle, you may go. 2) If there is almost room for your vehicle, you may go. 3) If there is not room but you see a driver who looks like they might move for you, you may go. 4) If there are no drivers who look like they would move out of your way, squeeze in anyway.
Before we left Jinja on Friday, we stopped and ate Chinese food at Ling Ling’s. The last time I ate at Ling Ling’s, I was on a church-planting trip with my home church in 2006. My mom and I went on that trip together, and the team went to Ling Ling’s on her birthday. (Too bad she doesn’t like Chinese food…) This past Saturday was her birthday, which means I have eaten at Ling Ling’s two times – 7 years less 1 day apart. It was still good. = )