Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Goodbye Harriet

Last week our maid, Harriet resigned in order to pursue her university education. This means that all the work that used to get done while Festus, Molly, and I were at work must now wait until we return around 5:00 each day.

Since [in my observations] men do not under any circumstances do “women’s work” that leaves Molly and me to accomplish a full days worth of chores in about 3 hours. Whatever doesn’t get done in the evening must be finished when we wake up.

By “we,” I actually mean Molly, because I don’t know how to do a lot of chores the “Ugandan way” and she keeps putting off teaching me. I have been told this is sort of job security—because if I could do all the things she does for me, what would her role be? It also has a lot to do with me being a guest in her home. I think I would have a hard time letting my guests do their own laundry and make my dinner. 

Another interesting belief I have learned is that people think all Mazungus don’t know how to cook or clean because we all have maids that do it for us, you know, because we are all so wealthy. I wish.

I do try to help her though, which seems to make Festus laugh a lot. They were floored last Tuesday when I showed them I knew how to make mashed potatoes and guacamole. Granted I used a butcher knife to peel the potatoes, and we boiled them in a tin pan over firewood. Then I made these little silver fish by “frying” them in another tin dish over a clay stove that is cylindryical and stands about a foot off the ground and is fueled by coal. Little do they know, I had to adlib quite a bit since I was so far away from my own, familiar kitchen.

Cooking like this takes practice. It sure makes me feel silly for thinking I am always limited to hot dogs and beans whenever I go camping. Unless of course we had our fully equipped trailer, then naturally we could make a feast in the wilderness.

People here work hard at every little task they do. I can already tell Molly is exhausted, but that doesn’t mean she is going to stop working. Hopefully in the next week or so she will start letting me help her get this work done!

On another note:

Thank you to my friends and family who have already so generously donated to my Foundation! As promised, I would like to share the stories of a few more students today.

The story of Adiya and Asia:
A couple weeks ago, I posted pictures that capture the journey home for several Future Diplomat students. After traveling that trail for the third time, I spoke with the Jja Jja [grandmother] of two students, Adiya and Asia. Adiya just turned nine and Asia is five. Their father died when Asia was still an infant. For reasons I cannot explain nor understand, their mother brought them to her mother in-law and left—never to return. The Jja Jja is now responsible for five of her grandchildren. Her husband died many years ago. In Uganda, this means her main source of income must be from selling part of her garden. This literally brings only enough money for these two girls to attend school (the other three children must stay at home to work). This family cannot afford to purchase food, and they cannot afford to eat too much from their crops. The girls are provided breakfast at school, cannot afford lunch, and then they eat Cassava every night for dinner. Their Jja Jja is very old and has a bad back, weak arms, and an almost immobile leg. She informed me this was probably her last year of work because she can barely move any more. Granted these children assist her a great deal with harvesting crops, housework, and fetching water. In fact, Adiya and Asia work to help their Jja Jja every day until the sun goes down [after being at school all day]. On the weekends, they work from sun-up till mid-day. These children are exhausted and have no time for schoolwork. If they were able to sleep in a dormitory at school, they would no longer need to work away their childhood. They would focus their energy on schoolwork allowing them to one day emerge from school with an education and escort them away from poverty. 

Angel’s story:
Angel is the newest student at Future Diplomats. When I first met her, she walked right up to me and gave me a hug. This is unusual for most kids, because they just want to touch my skin. Angel wanted more; she wanted to be my friend. I let her sit in my lap, and she immediately nuzzled her head into my neck. Melt my heart, why don’t you? This interaction happened before I knew her story. Now that I know her roots, I can’t believe how angelic she is. Last week, Festus heard a radio announcement pleading for help. The woman on the radio told the story of a woman whom an HIV+ man had raped five years ago. Nine months later, the woman was now HIV+ and the mother of Angel. She has done her best to raise Angel on her own. However, she can no longer afford to take care of her. The woman had nobody to turn to, so as a last resort, she asked the radio woman to tell her story in hopes that somebody would hear her. Of course, Festus not only heard her, he called the radio woman right away and offered Angel a place at Future Diplomats. The mother could not afford to bring her from Kampala, so the radio woman escorted the child to our village this last weekend. She even purchased Angel’s first pair of shoes, her meal fees, and a blanket for her new home. Festus has donated the rest of her necessities until he can locate a sponsor. The problem is, she is sleeping on a couch in the room of one of the teachers. There are no more available beds to meet the needs of these children.

Not yet anyway.

With love and appreciation,

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