No time has been wasted during our second week here in Africa. Attending church Sunday morning was our first big adventure. After being escorted to the VIP section, we sat for almost 5 hours listening to prayers and songs, only occasionally understanding the few English words being said. Major celebrity sighting at church: the Nancy Pelosi of Uganda came to speak for the community. With news reporters and video cameras, it was clear that the ‘madame speaker’ is an important member of Parliament and an influential figure for the country or Uganda. With Sunday as our day off from working, we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the nice weather and getting to know each other a little better and bond as a group.
The next morning, we were off to work at the farm. We put our team work skills to use to transport water from the well in the field to the main farm area. It was tiring and hard work, but we had succeeded at our first mission on the farm as a team. It was efficient and proved we could work well together! We were all exhausted from our first day of hard work, but the next day, we headed back to the farm again to work more. Peter spoke to us about the micro-finance program he is trying to bring to the community in Masaka, as well as surrounding districts. His humanistic approach on his plan shows his compassion for the people in his community, as well as others, and his desire to see them succeed. We were able to attend a community meeting where Peter explained his plans to everyone. The members of the community established groups, and we helped make records of them so that the efforts towards the plan could continue. Not only did we get to help with this process and be involved with the people of the community, we also learned a lot about micro-finance and the approach Peter is taking.
Along with the money aspect of life here, Peter also wants to teach sustainable agriculture to farmers in the area. We were able to visit another farm a few hours away from Peters that was a perfect example of how one could thrive off of the methods Peter is teaching. A farmer, Ben, received a small loan from Peter several years ago, and while exhibiting his learned farming skills, Ben has been able to increase his farm’s size by four, now giving him 12 acres of land and a bigger home for his family. On our tour of the farm, we were all amazed by everything he was growing, and we were particularly amazed as we trekked through the “sugar cane forest.” We had a delicious lunch, and then returned home to Peter’s farm.
On Friday, we began our next big mission; repainting the community center in the village next to the farm. Painting over the stained white walls with white paint did not seem to make much of a difference, but after a few hours, our work seemed to be done. Over the next few days, we will be working on a mural. Shout out to our artist, Jessie, and our friend Kristin for their elaborate planning and art skills. Once the building is complete, a library will be built and a garden will be planted outside to create a nice atmosphere for people to come and read, learn, and feel comfortable.
After a quiet and relaxing, fun day of painting on Friday, Saturday was just the opposite. We arrived at the community center Saturday morning with the intention of entertaining and playing with a few children of the village. When we got there, were slightly surprised when 300 kids showed up to play with us ‘mzungus.’ Excited, and slightly overwhelmed, we dove right in, pulling Frisbees, balloons, crayons, and paper out of our backpacks. While the morning lacked much organization, it was fun for everyone, and rewarding for us to see the kids of the community smile and play. We were all pretty exhausted after our busy morning, so we took a little time to rest and eat before the evening festivities began.
Around 7 pm, we went back to the community center, but this time instead of children running around, there were speakers, lights, and a DJ. We had stepped into our very first bush disco. We danced for hours, mostly to popular African music, but every once in a while, they would play an American song for us. We partied hard, but after a few hours we were exhausted from our busy day and went home while the rest of the village continued to dance until 3 in the morning. Next time we will be sure to stay up the whole night with them.
This week has been full of hard work and new experiences. We are all having such a great time learning and trying new things.