A Travellerspoint blog

Rain!

Our prayers were answered... !
Storm hits us... so much water, so little time to catch it all

Storm hits us... so much water, so little time to catch it all


Catching rain

Catching rain


Hail stones in Africa!

Hail stones in Africa!


Coursemate Andrew attacked by hail stones

Coursemate Andrew attacked by hail stones

!

...bucket loads of rain which refilled the tank as it reached its last inch, and then today the town water (running water) came back,
DSC_0055

DSC_0055

Last week our cynical- 65-year- old Guardian reading- English friend Allan was involved in a serious car accident near Arua. His policy for their car is that passengers must wear seatbelts, which is very unusual in Uganda, but it quite literally saved his, and 3 colleagues lives as the car spun 360 degrees out of control. He said after the accident he thought, wow, I've been given a new lease of life, from now on I'm going to live quite differently....
and when we spoke to him 3 days later, he said, and here I am, back in the same old routine as always, forget about that new lease of life...

In some ways it is the same about the water, all the intentions of conserving water and appreciating every drop... and yet, now we have water, it is very easy to forget to reuse it for the skanky toilets, and forget that it could go again so easily. And forget that people a few hundred metres away don't have the luxury of running water or a big rainwater tank.

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Kenneth catching water

Kenneth catching water

Anyway, before I get too glum, Amelie and her dorm- mates, Luckly and Newton, are also enjoying the return of the water...

paddling pals

paddling pals

Posted by africraigs 07:39 Archived in Uganda Comments (1)

Resolving Conflict

The Water Tank, Tear Gas and Being Beaten

semi-overcast 25 °C

‘How do you resolve conflict?’ asked the lecturer last week for our topic on relationships. Students started responding:
‘When there is a conflict in the village, the chiefs meet the two parties under the tree and beat the party they believe is in the wrong.’
‘In Kampala, when there is conflict the police control by tear gas’

Multicultural learning is not limited to the classroom- we’ve had the opportunity to work on real-life conflict resolution at the base this week with a water crisis. The town water has stopped, which means that most of the base (maybe 50 people) are sharing the rainwater tank at the side of our dorm. It's a big plastic tank, but it's not THAT big!
A crisis like this highlights massively different expectations and reactions.

There has been no rain for the last few days so the water is not being replenished and is going down quickly. When the rainwater has gone, we will have to lug water back from a leech-infected stream, which will take more time and effort and forward planning. So my view is… let’s conserve the water we have, but this conflicts with the attitude ‘when it’s gone, it’s gone, so let's just use it until it's gone’…
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IMG_0904

There are other conflicts surrounding the water issue, such as why rainwater harvest tanks are not attached to each building. The are more buildings being built on the base, but rainwater tanks are not a priority, even though if each building had one there would not be this crisis. It is rainy season here and we see an abundance of rain quite often at the moment, which is good news for our water tank but unbelievably frustrating to see so much water wasted as it tumbles from the sky onto the roof… and flows away in muddy rivers....
Lots of rain!

Lots of rain!


Our American colleague, Christian tries to collect water in his kettle

Our American colleague, Christian tries to collect water in his kettle


We had a community meeting yesterday to try and resolve some of the conflict (unfortunately we didn’t use the method of meeting under a tree and beating the wrong party) and we came up with three basic rules…

1. recycle water to use for the toilets
2. only go to the bathroom if you have collected dirty water to wash the waste away
3. no more urinating in the shower area...

Other suggestions could have been that It would good to make use of the long-drop toilets more often. These don't require any water, though they can be more hazardous if the person before you hasn't got accurate aim. The long- drop is also a very good test of your quadracep muscles while squatting.

In actual fact, it seems to me that building good quality long-drop toilets on the base instead of flush toilets would have made better sense for the culture and conditions. It doesn't seem that the town water is reliable, while flush toilets use a lot of water. Local people aren't used to Western-style seat toilets or flush systems, so it seems to make sense not to be relying on a flush toilet system anyway...

We are living in hope that the town water returns soon, that it rains tonight and tops up the tank, that our bladders become stronger, and that we start to live the reality of resolving conflict!
Amelie still needs to learn about conserving water...

Amelie still needs to learn about conserving water...

Posted by africraigs 13:39 Archived in Uganda Comments (4)

Confessions of a Selfish Missionary

So far I have discovered through this training and communal living that... I don't like sharing as much as I would like to think. Of course, there is pleasure in sharing our new colourful pens from a package (thank you!) with our penless classmates, and delight in baking cookies to share in class, but when it comes to being put on the spot to share, it is a whole different set of emotions. The daily requests for an eraser, a highlighter, a charger, a chair, a newspaper, a teabag (or even more annoying when there is no request to accompany the borrowing). I feel like I am a hungry hawk or a mean librarian, scouring the classroom or veranda for borrowed items that need to be returned. And then later I think 'what is wrong with me? why do I have a problem sharing a pencil??!'

The hardest thing to share is our daughter. One thing we are learning through communal living in Uganda is that children become almost the community's property. 'It takes a whole village to raise a child' which sounds so rosy when it's a nice African proverb, but it is a lot more challenging when it comes to the reality of trying to discipline and raise our daughter in a way we see best when we have little undivided time with her.
Last week we were learning about Worldview, which was really interesting and relevant, and helps us to see why our teaching a few weeks ago on Spiritual Warfare was so utterly confusing because it was a tangled blend of biblical worldview and animistic worldview. It helps us to see why there is tension even living in a community when there are different worldviews coming together.

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fgjgfkgfdf

We are reading 'African Friends and Money Matters' which is so useful in helping us understand the worldview here on borrowing and sharing and communal living and responsibilities... but I think it will take more than just reading a book and spending a few months in this community, to really understand.. (sigh).

Posted by africraigs 09:44 Archived in Uganda Comments (2)

The Other Side Of The Fence

-27 °C

This week I witnessed a horrible siuation which I can't shake from my mind... I was standing talking with a few people, then we heard a few loud thuds, and screaming and running. We looked up to see a small girl, probably about 9 years, running towards us holding her head and screaming, with a wide eyed, terrified expression, with the watchman walking slowly behind her.

After translation, it transpired that the girl and some friends were trespassing on the land to hunt for firewood. They had been caught the day before and verbally warned, but obviously had returned, and the watchman had wanted to teach them a lesson. He had wacked the girls head with something, probably wood, causing a 6 inch welt and enormous egg which was rapidly changing the shape of her head. Her head was bleeding, and she was clutching it and sobbing and shaking. It shocked me that someone could use such force on a child's head. We found out later that the girl's mother had died a few week's ago leaving her and her siblings orphaned. There were many other factors about the event that highlighted different approaches to situations and different cultural perspectives, which I am trying to understand. Big Hair and I were discussing the event afterwards and thinking about REAPs teaching about fast-growing trees to use for firewood, and various other practical ways that one could reach out to the surrounding families. Our friend Cait, from David's well-drilling course in North Carolina in 2009, visited us this weekend via a well drilling project, and it was interesting to hear about her work. (www.HowManyCows.com)
The firewood event sharpened our desire for the kind of work we want to be involved in after this training period, and a stark reminder of issues on the other side of the fence...

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DSC_0134


Jerry can queue

Jerry can queue

Posted by africraigs 01:24 Archived in Uganda Comments (1)

Mermaids and Bootcamp

I often feel that this 6 month DTS (Discipleship Training School' is a mixture of Boot Camp and Big Brother. It seems like the daily challenges increase the level of intensity of our Boot camp physically, emotionally and spiritually...

Physically is probably the easiest part to deal with, such as the more simple African diet and our 60 day intense exercise programme 'Insanity'... (which our American colleague, Christian introduced us to, hence his new nick name, 'Christiansanity'...)

Living and studying cross -culturally in an unfamiliar place was always going to bring challenges, as well as richness, diversity and colour. Like on Big Brother, when the housemates are given various tasks, and their different characters and backgrounds provide (questionable) entertainment, there are a number of different personalities and nationalities here on the base (including a team of American photographers from the Hawaii base who arrived this week- cue decent pics of amelie I hope) which can provide entertainment (and immense frustration...)
Like last week when we enjoyed a heavy rainstorm, which brought thousands of large flying ants, (a local delicacy), to the night light on the base. All of our African coursemates went crazy, clutching buckets and large basins and grabbing handful of the insects to fry and eat the following day.
DSC_0023

DSC_0023

Unfortunately, our coursemates were not the only ones who consider flying ants a tasty treat, and before long armies of pinching ants came to our dormitory demanding their fill as well, biting anyone who got in their way. Another American coursemate, Katie, was concerned that the pinching ants would come into our bedrooms so insisted on switching off the light, causing much annoyance and frustration to the others. A compromise was found by finding another light away from our rooms with plenty of ants flying around to enjoy...1DSC_0024.jpg

The training course intends to provide formal learning in the classroom, informal learning through our community responsibilities (like slashing grass and shelling thousands of g-nuts to make a sauce) and unformal (I know, it doesn't quite fit?) learning through living together.

David slashing

David slashing

Our classroom experience this week has been eye-opening and has challenged us spiritually, which is maybe the hardest of the aspects so far of Boot camp.

The topic this week has been about 'Spritual Warfare' which is a controversial and heavy subject at the best of times. Our teacher has shared many crazy, terrifiying stories this week about witchcraft, curses, totems, ancestral worship, witchdoctors, demonic powers, child sacrifices, body parts and worse. It highlights our ignorance when it comes to understanding local cultural beliefs, (and maybe our narrow mindedness when it comes to things in the spiritual realm.) Some of the things we have been taught have not rung true with our own experiences, like the common belief that water is more easily possessed, that mermaids are real, and that a dream about an owl or snake equals death.

I find it fascinating that an event can occur, for example multiple car accidents at the same spot on a roundabout, and one person may interpret the event as a demonic curse and hunt to find an umbilical cord buried and cursed by satan worshipers on a nearby hill, (true story) whilst someone else may look at the environmental factors of the situation like blind spots, the type of road etc. If I'm honest, in many of the stories we heard, I could feel my small brain whirring to think of logical, rational explanations: medicine, mental health, genetics, environment etc, which I guess highlights my need to understand and explain events rather than simply believe that so much goes on that is completely out of my comfort zone...

We have both found it hard (and tiring) to understand and grapple with the 'truth', and i guess it boils down to the simple fact that some things we just don't know. It has been enlightening to learn what our coursemates think and believe, and how they would interpret various bible verses. Needless- to- say, I would rather never, ever experience any of the things mentioned in the stories, and it makes us a bit nervous about the outreach stage of this boot camp...
(EC)

Posted by africraigs 10:25 Comments (3)

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