2 of the 1900 photos Anya and I took…

Leaving Uganda

Hello again from Kampala!

My apologies to anyone who has been checking the blog! After week one the internet we had bought completely stopped working and we were unable to fix it, so we’ve spent the last four weeks or so without any internet.

Today I’m headed to the airport to start the long, 34-hour journey home. My time in Uganda has been completely amazing; it is a country unlike any other I’ve ever visited. The people are always welcoming and amazingly generous. I am sad to have left the school at Nyaka. The kids are eager to learn and always happy.

I’ve seen so much and experienced so much, even though I am sad to leave I am excited to soon be home and share my pictures and stories.

Thank you to anyone who tried to follow my journey!!!

Education is the Best Investment!

Agandi!

Life here in Nyakagyezi has proven to be quiet and peaceful, with the occasional spurt of children playing outside during their breaks. Over the last few days Anya and I have tutored a total of six students from P4, all around ten or eleven years old. Tutoring has been a lot of fun; I’ve been able to jog my own childhood memories with books like Green Eggs and Ham and Little Rabbit Foo Foo, as well as learn from a little more about Ugandan way of life from My Village, a children’s book that tells the perils of cutting too many trees down. The kids were very shy and took time to warm up to us, but eventually did.

I spoke with Headmaster Steven today and worked out the details of my data collection, which I will start next week. I will be working with each class, P1 through P7, and getting weight, height and mid-upper arm circumference. It looks like the teachers will be helping me to get a sample of children that do not attend Nyaka; we decided little bars of soap would work well as a ‘thank-you’ gift for participating. I would have never thought of that myself! In many instances I have thought of how lucky I am to have people who will help me and work with me here.

On another note, I have found a new favorite food! Unfortunately I keep forgetting the name, but it is a fried, round doughy ball, it’s a little sweet, and it is absolutely delicious. My goal is to learn how to make them before I leave! I asked Jackie to show me, and she say’s it isn’t hard.

Overall I have found Ugandans to be very quiet towards us, and often with each other. Anya and I went on a little walk and nobody said anything to us or approached us, very different from my experiences in Ecuador! The periods of quiet are then broken up by loud instances of happy singing or cheers and yells when a goal is scored during soccer. On the first day of school Anya and I were introduced to each class in succession, and each class stood up and recited a welcome message to us, one class even sang for us! They always finished by saying, “Education is the best investment” in unison. I think I couldn’t agree more.

Well that has been a long update, but I will continue to post as I experience more. Monday there is a market in the nearby village of Mahoja, I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to write about after that!

My first days in Nyakagyezi!

I have to say, being here is unreal. I’ve been planning this trip for a little less than two years now and I can’t believe I’m actually sitting here in Southwestern Uganda, here at Nyaka. The school looks wonderful, and the people here have been so welcoming. The bus ride here was definitely an interesting experience. We got on the bus around 6:00 am and arrived only around 2:30pm. Eight and half hours is more than enough!

The children only start school on Monday, February 1st, so we’ve been spending our days reading, eating, listening and watching, and of course looking at the beautiful views! Right outside our door you can see green rolling hills with little houses perched on top. As we drove through the towns close to Nyaka today people stared at us from every direction. We are the most recently arrived ‘mzungus’ (white people) and I think they find us interesting! I can’t blame them though!

Since I am here on sort of a mission to observe as much as I can about the food I’ve been considering everything I’m eating and seeing. Stories I have heard of African food, I must say, have not been completely endearing, so I was a little apprehensive when I got to Nyaka. The truth is I have absolutely no idea what people are talking about. While I haven’t been here long, what I’ve eaten so far has been fantastic, and we’ve had a great variety. It’s true the matooke, or plaintain mash, took a little getting used to, but with generous portions of a split pea sauce poured over it’s delicious! We’ve had little eggplants, papaya, pineapple, irish potatoes, plenty of avocado, rice and more. I can only say I am looking forward to more tasty meals!!!

We are, of course, being very well taken care of, so I’m not sure if what we are eating is typical. The woman who has helped us the most so far is Faiida, and her oldest daughter Jackie is at the house with us. Everyone has been very kind. I’m looking forward to Monday when school starts!

I have so much to write about, but I will leave it at that for now!

Boda-Bodas and Fast City Action

Hello All,

My friend Anya and I arrived yesterday in Kampala, Uganda and it has been quite an experience to see the big city! The best I can describe it is as huge, busy, and yet not exactly urban in that there are shacks and dirt roads everywhere of the kind I would expect in a small village.

Driving in this city is absolutely insane! Where there are traffic lights, they are not really followed by the drivers, and they are mostly absent anyway. There are “boda-bodas,” or motorcycle-taxis zooming in and out everywhere, and cars, boda-bodas and people come extremely close to each other on the roads. Twice I saw cars labeled as student-driver cars, and I felt horrible for anyone who would have to learn how to drive in this city!

Otherwise things have been going very smoothly, thanks to the Nyaka staff here in the city. Sempa and James picked us up from the airport, and have helped to get everything organized for out time out in the village. I will hopefully have internet connection, though very slow, and I will also have a cell phone.

I am extremely excited for tomorrow and finally getting to the village! We will get on a bus early tomorrow morning and it will take about 7 or 8 hours to get there. I have a feeling the bus will be an adventure in itself. I have to say I’m looking forward to it!

Hopefully my next update will be from Nyakagyezi!

Overview: Nyaka Nutritional Assessment Project

Hello everyone! My name is Monika, I’m a Nutritional Sciences student at MSU, and I’ll be going to the MSU College of Human Medicine next year.

I am traveling to Nyakagyezi, Uganda in February and March to carry out a project I put together. I’m hoping this experience will teach me a little more about international research, especially since I hope to travel internationally in the future!

My project is called the Nyaka Nutritonal Assessment Project, and in essence I will be taking height and weight measurements of all the children at the Nyakagyezi Campus of the Nyaka AIDS Orphans School to compare the data to WHO recommendations. The school has a meal program. I also want to try to get measurements from a sample of children who don’t go to the school as a comparison.

I’ll try to update this blog during my stay at Nyaka!