Sunday, August 5, 2012

1Month in Fort Portal-Mugusu Market-Poetry

August 5th 2012
1 Month in Fort Portal - 1Year in Uganda - Well it’s been a journey to say the least

Fort Portal – I arrived here 1 month ago and have done a good bit. Shortly after arriving I met up with a fellow PCV and we went to Mugusu Market with a local missionary woman whose family has lived here for 9 years. She and her husband are raising two young kids here. I cannot imagine living that life…but I admire them. Mugusu market is a large weekly market about 10 kilometers outside of Fort Portal. If you ever wonder where our donated old clothes go to be reincarnated – its in Mugusu. You can also buy all the local vegetables there too, but I did not get any pics of those. What is striking are the gorgeous flowering trees that no one seems to notice but me.  Robert what do you think of these trees!
Mugusu Market - Keeps Goodwill in business

Mugusu Market-more flowing trees
Because I have dropped so much weight I needed to buy some new pants (actually trousers – pants here mean underwear – so you learn quickly to say trousers). Since I could not try them on, – I bought 3 pairs for $6 total and 2 out of 3 fit me. I gave the extra pair to the lady who drove us to take to her congregation!

I also visited the PCV’s site about 6 kilometers out of Fort Portal – I rode my bike there and we toured her village with her counterpart who is doing the most with the least funding of anyone I have met in Uganda. I have promised to write an article/case study on how to effectively leverage aid here in Uganda. Nothing is wasted, the community contributes, and his heart is in the mission of the program…. and not focused on getting money for himself…which unfortunately has been the norm in my experience. He took us on a hike for a couple hours and it was beautiful. I did not take my camera into the village to photograph the orphans, new pit latrines, gravity flow water taps, and the animal income generating activities though they were very impressive. Some pics from the hike are below.
Fellow PCV and her counterpart-Rwenzori Mtns in Back

Enthusiastic Karla!

Villages below

Robert - what are these lovelies?

And these are amazing!

Little green froggie friend!
 My youngest son, who has been in Nairobi Kenya for the summer, will be here in a week and he is coming to Fort Portal to stay with me for a few nights  before heading stateside. I cannot describe how excited I am to see him.

My work has mostly been getting the place organized and trying to get them able to generate their own income as well as apply for more funding. Record keeping has been poor so we have focused on getting all income, donations and expenses documented from 2011 forward. They had records in 3-4 different places so there was no information to show the big picture, until I got my hands into it. Those who know me well, know how much I love excel and organizing information! I have also entered all the applications they have received from people wanting to receive bikes wheel chairs or tricycles. Also we are trying to pull together the complete list of all beneficiaries to date. Its slow work, like hunting for clues, but slowly it is coming together.
My living arrangements are settling in – not hauling my water and having an indoor bathing room and toilet sure make a difference. My weight is climbing and I am definitely not working as hard to just exist as I was at my former site. We have a hot water heater too and though its temperamental, it is still my best friend. The pipes below it hves sprung a leak twice but these are minor issues.

The young man that lives in the back and is charged with ground maintenance, general cleaning and security has become my friend. He is 23 years old and is always smiling and willing to help me. He keeps my bike in shape and runs errands for me. He gets better pricing at the market since he is not white, so he is doing a great deal of our shopping and in return he makes some small cash and I feed him most nights from my cooking.  It’s a nice arrangement.

I talk several times a week to my buddies at the school back in Gulu district. I miss them more than I imagined and appreciate their enthusiastic calls and texts. I nominated one of my students there to attend Peace Camp – which is beginning next week. For a description go to my friend Nancy’s blog ( – my student is the 22 year old – his response on the application to “how the war affected you?” is below:

Boy, age 22: “The war affected me in the following ways: I lost my father, who was killed. Secondly, all our properties were vandalized.  All our animals were taken. I myself was burned in a grass thatch house and set fire, but I survived. I have only one sister and one brother. The rest of my brothers were killed.  I have an injury from bayonet. My mother was paralyzed. This made me head of household.”

This young man works so hard to raise his school fees and support his family – he often worked in my garden and elsewhere on the school grounds. Here he is in my garden.

WORLD'S LARGEST EGGPLANT!!!!! That is a full sized dinner plate next to the beast!

Peppers+ Eggplant = Payment for a ride from a villager!

Working         August 5th, 2012
I try very hard
To be good to myself
And my fellow time travelers
More importantly, I want to be honest
First to myself, then to the collective you

I have learned this is not easy
To know what is Reality and Truth
We change our stories to fit our definitions,
Our identities
We choose to see a reality
That enshrines us in candlelight
Yet to accomplish the above stated goals
I need a powerful spotlight
So no false assumptions can hide in the shadows

I feel courageous
Most of the time
But I still struggle
Which I think means
I am not facing
My real limitations
So I continue doing the work
To uncover them
I get still, listening to my inner poet
While she shows me the ground
Where the work must take place
I am digging and weeding
And sowing the seeds
As the fruits of this work
Begin to sprout

Our Country              August 2nd, 2012

I love Our Country
Ours because
America is its people
Our intermixed
Melting pot of the shiniest
Precious Mettle
From all over the world

We have blended
The greatest raw materials
And crafted them
Into the most inspired art

The more I study
Our nation’s history
The more awestruck I become
At the insightfulness and Resolve
Of our leaders
The strength and resourcefulness
Of our citizens
The amazing depth of our Compassion
For those less fortunate

My prayer is that
We will not lose sight
Of what makes us great
We will remain vigilant
To protect and be grateful for
The values and culture
That is America

Log Jam         July 28th, 2012

Pressure builds
Increasing stress
As logs pile up
Appearing too heavy
With too much bulk
To ever move

But the undercurrent of life flows on
Silently refusing to yield
To this apparent inertia
Patiently biding time
Perpetually pushing
At every available purchase

Until with tremendous
Groans and creaks
The logs break loose
And the water is no longer
Trapped, nor restricted
Simple swirls remaining
The evidence of struggle
Vanishing quickly downstream

Thank you all for your love – it is felt, and cherished, and needed-Love Karla

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