Monday, May 17, 2004

More for the Ick files

This week has been marked by two fairly significant events for me here in Uganda: (1)I've decided to move houses - yes, again!, and (2)I was bitten by a spider.

I currently live in a wonderful house with a wonderfull, older Ugandan woman. The house is great, and the woman I live with is lovely. The only problem is this - it is at least 30-40 minutes into the city, and almost all of my friends and places where i hang out are on the opposite side of the city (making my total travel time often close to an hour) This makes for a lot of sitting in traffic and money spent on cabs for nighttime journeys. I was dealing with it, but suddenly there's an opportunity to move in with my friend Heather - who just happens to live about a 20 minute walk from my office and who gets her two-bedroom apartment provided to her for free (!) by her employer (who does, to be fair, pay her peanuts.) So, I'm moving!

The second event in my week is more 'african', but way less fun. I was bitten by a 'brown recluse' spider sometime at the beginning of last week. The initial bite is basically painless, and you don't notice that anything is wrong until a couple of days later when necrosis (cell/tissue death) starts to set in, and the pain starts. I had to go to two different doctors before i got a proper diagnosis. Trust me, this bite is painfull enough that you'd keep going back too! The second doctor ended up having to slice open the bite, clean out all dead tissue and venom and other assorted goo, and now i get to walk around for the next two weeks with an open wound that needs to get cleaned and packed with gauze every day until all the necrotized tissue sloughs itself outta there. As african experiences go, I have to say I prefered the white water rafting.

I can't beleive i just wrote about that in here. Its just way too gross. But to be honest, it's been a bit of an ordeal and pretty much my whole week has revolved around it, so if I didn't write about it, I wouldn't have had much to say!

On another note, the project with the Aga Khan students to raise money for the kids in Uganda's north is going strong. Those of us coordinators who are not teachers in Uganda have had a bit of a shock over the work ethic of the kids - ie it doesn't exist, but we're trying to get through to them that they've volunteered to do this and that their actions do have consequences, which doesn't seem to be something they've considered before. So everything is requiring more meetings, more time, and more hand-holding than expected, but still - all is well. Its also kind of weird to be observing a high school environment in Uganda- its so funny to watch how some high school behaviours do seem to be really universal. There's the requisite cool guys who everyone follows, the hot girls who can get everyone - including the cool guys - to do whatever they want, the nerdier or smarter kids. The thing that's kind of amazing is that the dynamic is basically exactly the same as it would be in Canada, despite completely different lives, pop culture, access to material goods, emphasis on religion, etc

One of our biggest hurdles right now is actually coming up with a name we can all agree on: the kids have picked the Northern Youth Humanitarian Challenge, which is just way to hard to say to stick. We're trying to get the ideas of youth-run and youth beneficiaries, of connecting youth in the north and in Kampala, of helping, of providing shelter, of the North, of hope, all into a 2-3 word name that makes sense, tells you about the project, and is easy to remember and to say. Any suggestions? We'd LOVE some! Leave 'em in the 'Comments'if you've got any!!!

P.S. I know i keep promising photos and not delivering... they'll be up this week (I swear ;-)


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