I was just reading over my previous blog postings and I realized that they are not really conveying the extent of my life here in Gulu. Yes, there has definitely been hard times, but the good out ways the bad in a big way. It's been a big learning process with many mistakes along the way but I finally feel like I am getting the hang of things here. Actually, to be honest, once you feel like you are beginning to understand the culture you realize how much more you have to learn. The Acholi culture is so rich and goes very deep. There really is a very big barrier to overcome before truly understanding the people and culture that I am working with.
I would like to explain the pictures that I have included. Top left is a photo that was taken on a visit to Kitgum. I went with Invisible Children for a meeting with local leaders to discuss a big event that Invisible Children will be hosting in Gulu. It's called THE RESCUE OF JOSEPH KONY'S CHILD SOLDIERS. The goal is to raise awareness for the children still in captivity and to urge governing bodies from around the world to take action on this issue. From left to right in this photo (all IC staff) Patrick Munduga, Schools for Schools Program Coordinator (and my boss), Geoffrey Howard, VCSP Director(Visible Child Scholarship Program), me, Eric Okori, Economic Development Initiatives Director and Jared White, Missions Program Coordinator from the San Diego office.
The photo on the right is me and baby Stephanie. Stephanie is the daughter of my good friend Mercy. Mercy is local IC staff and I have become very close with her. I spend a lot of time during the week at her place. I always love the food at her house. It is also nice because I am close enough with Mercy that I can feel comfortable if I cannot finish my meal. Culturally, it is very rude to be a guest in someone's house and not finish everything on your plate. Even when there are heaps of food on your plate and you are being fed seconds. Some of the everyday food in northern Uganda is rice, beans, matooke (cooked plantains), posho (corn maize), malakwang (ground nuts which are like peanuts but smaller and softer, ground with two different spinach-like plants) which is usually eaten with sweet potato. Meats eaten here are goat, beef, chicken and sometimes pork and other wild animals like wort hog. I have tried all of these things and enjoy them all. I am thankful though for a little cafe called Kope Cafe here in Gulu, where I can enjoy some western food.
The bottom photo was taken with a group of kids I ran into in a village on Ssese Island on Lake Victoria. I was there with the IC staff for a retreat. It was an amazing time and I had loads of fun.
I have lots more to say but not enough time at the moment to say it. I am just heading out of the office to meet with an American friend, Lisa Coggins, who has a primary school about ten kilometers outside of Gulu.
Catch you soon.