In the summer of 2001 I had the life changing opportunity to study in Uganda, Africa. I had mentioned to my parents that I wanted to study abroad for a semester while at BYU. When I went to turn in my application for the Spain program, my eye was drawn to the Uganda flier. I had always loved the African cultures, specifically the music, and immediately changed my application from Europe to Africa. I still remember the phone call with my parents explaining that I had been accepted into the Uganda Educational Development program leaving April 2001. Needless to say, they were a bit shocked and nervous to be sending me to a third world country at the age of 20 for four months.
(MAKE SURE TO CLICK ON EACH OF THE IMAGES TO ENLARGE)
While in Uganda, we stayed in a small village called Mukono, about an hour east of the capital Kampala. Our experience was a service-based program, where we spent each day of the week teaching or working at different schools in the community. One of my favorite schools we visited each week was the Good Samaritan Primary School. I wish I could put into words what a humbling experience it was to see almost a hundred kids crowed into three different "classrooms." Classroom being a generous term for a three sided area with dirt floors, tin roof, and a few wooden benches.
(I'M IN THE BOTTOM RIGHT CORNER)
While at Good Samaritan, we each took turns between teaching English and music and making bricks for additional classrooms and bathroom facilities. The kids loved learning different primary songs "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" and "If You're Happy and You Know It." You haven't seen cuteness until you've seen a group of adorable little Ugandan children with thick accents dancing and singing along to music! The brick making was obviously more physical. It was an interesting process that we all became quickly familiar with. We first had a group mixing mud and clay together with bits of straw and other random materials. We would take turns stomping on the mixture, similar to the process of stomping on grapes to get wine. Then we would take the mixture and throw it really hard into a rectangular mold. We would then line the molds out to dry under the sun, taking at least 2-3 weeks to completely harden. Needless to say it was a VERY dirty process!
Good Samaritan Primary School was such a community driven project. Mothers of the children would come to help, donating whatever supplies and services they possibly could. During the week they would also meet for an adult English class taught by a couple of the girls in our group. Our last visit to Good Samaritan they threw us a going away celebration and dressed all of us up in traditional Ugandan attire. All the kids performed different dances, including amazing rhythmic drumming.
One of these days I'll share more stories from our adventures in Uganda; the safaris, close encounter with Muammar Gaddafi, rafting down the Nile River...
But for now, I'll leave you with a very dirty me, eagerly anticipating her cold bucket bath.