Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I get Around...I get Around!, ...and Poetry

On the Road in Uganda

I have been busy lately, going to many interesting sites across Uganda. I visited an Orphanage in Gulu Town and was given Acholi lessons by the orphans with disabilities. They were in wheel chairs and lying on rolling tables that allowed them to avoid bed sores from sitting in the same position.  I find that the best language teachers are the kids. They think it is fun to teach and no one feels embarrassed.

I also went with a group of Aid Africa workers to a tree farm and collected citrus and jack fruit trees to distribute out in the village. This was a fun event but more villagers came looking for the free trees than we had to distribute.  I enjoyed watching the demonstration on how to prepare your tree for planting and watching the village kids hang out.

kids at the tree farm with oranges

Listening to planting instructions

village kids 

trees for distribution
Sadly I attended a funeral for one of our school staff members. You may remember I posted a blog about a woman who told me she was dying. We thought she was improving, but she ended up with Cancer and HIV. In the end it was a hard road for her and she finally let go. The burial was deep in the village and was a lovely affair with testimonials. She was in a coffin in a grass thatched hut and the women went in to pray over her. I spend about 20 minutes in there and then went out to my seat. There were several hundred people there and our entire school closed down so the staff and students could all attend.

Recently, at my local restaurant, I found myself sitting next to a 6-7 year old kid who had been on his way to Kampala – A 5-6 hour bus ride – all by himself to escape abusive relatives – when a local reverend found him and convinced him to come to get some food. He had not eaten in a longtime he said. I believe him, as he got stomach cramps after finishing his plate. A sign his stomach was not used to a meal. The Reverend was going to take him to the police to try to locate either some more responsible family members or some support organization for abandoned children.

This past week I traveled to Kampala to meet with some organizations including Enterprise Uganda, focused on helping Ugandans become successful entrepreneurs and save for their futures. I also visited Junior Achievement Uganda offices. There is a great deal of attention being focused on teaching business and entrepreneur skills.

Vegetables - Our school gardens are in full swing. I harvested my first batch of Okra (called Oteego in Acholi) SO far I have just tomatoes, radishes and okra. The Sunflowers are just starting! I have small green (bell) peppers but they are a long way off. However, fresh mangos have been in season for a couple of months and I have been really enjoying them!

I continue with my project of photographing our students. I take their pictures around the school and let them pose themselves. They love it. I only charge them the cost to get the photos printed. For many this is a great treat… To have a photo of themselves.  I have enjoyed doing it but they are getting so demanding that I may have to stop this project. However I think it might be a good small business idea for some enterprising Ugandan. School Photos! Who Knew!

Tomorrow I will travel with Invisible Children to tour their offices in Gulu for a second time. We are discussing their help with more of our students at the school. Afterward I am visiting a new entrepreneurship education building at a local secondary school. It should be a good and informative day.

Last Thursday I wrote a 24 page proposal to the Ministry of Education and Sports to try to receive funding for more students. So far I have assisted in getting 101 students in our school for short term vocational training. This translates into approximately US $21,500 …Which is a lot of money here.  If this next proposal goes through it could easily raise that amount or more.

I only have a few poems to share – one is for my 24th wedding year anniversary.

Anniversary Poem June 4th, 2012

The richness of marriage
Comes mostly with the passing of time
Stunning to realize
Its depth & breadth
Of experiences and emotions
When reflecting backwards

The passionate beginning
Hurls us into subsequent chapters
Fearless and joyful
Sure footed and agile
Through the early years

Euphoric when gazing
On the result of love
Our children
The light of our eyes
The culmination of
Everything hopeful & beautiful
Nothing before or since
Manifests significance
Like these miraculous gifts

Marching bravely into new territory
We realize the magnitude
Of parenting
Slipping now & then
Unsure on rocky terrain of indecision
Looking to each other for guidance & approval

Making decisions for our miracles
Praying we are worthy trustees
In the struggle to provide
Love Food Security Shelter
Education stability challenges safe-haven

Eventually accepting
We must let out the tethers
That hold our offspring back
Giving more freedom
For growth
Relinquishing all control
To them
And the goodness of this universe

Surprised to find ourselves
Alone again, with each other
Curious and a bit nervous
To be just 2
Realizing we have traversed
One of life’s biggest mountains
Arriving safely and a bit worn out
From the effort

Looking at each other
With appreciation, love & compassion
And with wonder & curiosity
For we have made the journey this far

Having arrived here still friends
With scars and damage
It’s exciting and somewhat scary
To imagine what comes next
What new mountains & valleys
Are waiting to receive us

Woven Threads June 4th 2012

Sipping coffee while watching
A slowly rising sun
Stream its rays of light
Through the cool dust
Floating from the industrious
Actions in the Gulu bus park

Africa never really sleeps
The daily intensity of petty commerce
Shifts to pulsating night life
Then morphs back to business
Between 7 & 8 am

When do these people rest?
How do families exist?
In this hive of constant
Noise, dirt & motion?
Memories of my family rituals
Look nothing like this

Observing each other
With the same wonder & curiosity
And slight fear
So different in obvious ways
Trying to decode
The alien customs
We study each other intently
Fascinated with the riddle
Similar and at the same time
So foreign

Though at the basic primal level
I see and feel the parallels
The woven threads
Binding us in common humanity
The laughs, dances & smiles
The heartfelt way
My hand is held tightly
When greeted in the street

Dichotomy                          May 15th, 2012
Yin | Yang
Black | White
Peace | War
Day | Night

One does not exist
Without the other
Requiring the antonym
To define itself

Sandwiched between
Life | Death
Living is spent
Mostly towards the middle
Vacillating amongst
The extremes

Venturing too close
To one side
Or the other
Helping to demonstrate
The value
Of the opposite thought
Or action

Living is in the choices
Rarely obvious
Which path is correct?

Learning over time
That moderation is benign
But tedious
The extremes are dangerous
Yet thrilling

Navigating as far
As you dare
Modifying the route
With the wisdom of experience

Smiling to yourself when you err
Realizing the living is in the journey
And the divine is with you
From beginning to end