Catching you up with our week in Kalisizo, Rakai
After arriving last Sunday and seeing the show at Ndere Centre, our home in Kampala, we were able to sleep in Monday before being welcomed by Professor David Serwadda, who was one of the founders of the Rakai Health Sciences project. We then engaged in team building activities until lunch. After lunch we visited Owino Market, where the students engaged in a scavenger hunt. Owino is quite an introduction to Kampala, with multiple sections and some of the biggest crowds in Kampala. The students were assigned things to find, such as a food they had never heard of or the piece of clothing that had traveled the farthest. Besides discovering new foods and learning that the market is connected to vast trading networks for used clothing, they also began to experience Ugandan culture. The students from Makerere University were invaluable guides.
Tuesday we continued our orientation with a conversation and debate about political systems and history across USA and Uganda. Then we headed to Training of Rural Women in Uganda, or TORUWU, to learn about their programs and visit for dinner. Despite their name, programs also include a focus on youth, and it is always a pleasure to be welcomed by their brass band. Students learned to make leather keychains from one of the women there, an example of the skills that are taught to women and youth, many of whom have been effected by HIV. We also had a chance to sample some of the wine they make with dinner, and ended out our visit with a performance by their drum and dance troupe.
Wednesday we left for Kalisizo, and we stopped at the Equator on the way, where J.Y. and Brandon discovered they have similar taste in African fashion!
We have been staying with local families in Kalisizo ever since we have come to Rakai. Kalisizo is home to the Rakai Health Sciences Project, where some of the most important research on HIV and AIDS has been and continues to be done. We were able to tour their world class facilities.
Over the past few days we have had a chance to learn more about their programs and participate in our homestay families’ daily activities. Most of the students have learned more about using pit latrines and taking bucket baths than they ever thought they would need to know, but they also learned to make matooke (the staple food), dig in the garden (most of the families have small plots of land where they grow food for home consumption or trade), and bring water from the well. Students have also had a chance to begin exploring their themes thought visits to local programs, interviews with Kalisizo residents, and close observation of daily life. One such observation involved a site visit to a fishing village.
This year our service project took place at the Little Flowers Primary School. The Headmistress, Grace Manyi, is also hosting our program's faculty for the homestay. Grace showed us where the students in her school had to collect water used for drinking and washing, daily. It was a long walk down a steep hill with dangers of snakes and drowning. Our program donated a rainwater collection tank, which had been installed just before our arrival, and she asked that we decorate the wall around the tank with messages about the importance of clean water, sanitation, and proper water use.
Today students will either shadow their homestay families or continue exploring their themes in the morning. Late this afternoon we will hold our first student-led reflection session, to be followed by our going away party, as tomorrow we leave for Make Mburo park for a walking and boat safari.