I’m sitting in a room barren of furniture except for a three inch piece of foam that is considered to be a mattress. I have my mosquito net rigged up in a ridiculous fashion due to the concrete walls and almost no tie off points. But I am in Uganda!
Things are great. I arrived and Tyler, my only contact, was thankfully ready and waiting for me at the airport. After several days of interaction I have come to realize that Amizima has a gem in this man. He is brilliant and great at what he does. He has training in international business and a background in NPO’s (non-profit organizations). His most notable asset is his incredible ability to make contacts. He seems to know everyone. Even better, everyone wants to know him. At nights and on weekends he does some work for an investment company back in the States. He connects local businessmen that want to start companies with American investors. I don’t fully understand all of it, but it certainly helps his work here. He is also very discerning in how to help people. He works very hard at enabling the people to help themselves.
His connections will be such a blessing in my project. He has hooked me up with many people with great insights and the support system that he has put in place will be immeasurably helpful. Tonight I ate dinner with a young guy working with an NPO of engineers who has overseen several construction projects. He gave me many valuable pointers on dealing with the local workers and is actually recommending one of his foremen for us to hire.
When I arrived we drove 3 hours through Kampala to Jinja where I will be working. I was put up at a local hotel that was nothing like Americans would imagine. The “rooms” were self-contained hut-like dwellings. It is kind of resort-y, at least by Ugandan standards. Within 10 minutes of him dropping me off the electricity was out. I had not unpacked a thing and spent a good amount of time figuring out where I had put the flashlight and batteries.
I spent three nights in this hotel and worked on getting over my jet lag. I also got insane amounts of info on local culture, Amazima’s inner workings, and just about everything you can imagine from Tyler. I’m not sure how much of it was retained, but it was all appreciated.
On a side note, I don’t believe air conditioning exists in Uganda. Not that I expected to have it, but I expected somebody to.
We looked at houses and I found an amazing place right on Lake Victoria. Unfortunately the people are not moving out until the 25th. I decided it is worth the wait. So right now I’m staying with a young couple from Philly. They have a five bedroom place and actually have 3 other people staying in the other three extra bedrooms. I would tell you about them, but two of them are out of town and I have not met them and one of them just got here today so I don’t know much about her. The couple, on the other hand, is very nice and I am extremely thankful to have a room until my place becomes available.
I was able to go to the Saturday activities that Amazima puts on. Amazima sponsors 400+ kids and on Saturdays they come to an Amazima-owned site (it is actually the same place where I will be building the playground) and get a good nutritious meal, bible study, and some food to take home for the rest of the week. They also have a worship session. It was honestly one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed. This is not an exaggeration. I struggled, behind my big yellow sun glasses, not to cry and hoped nobody noticed.
I was also able to meet Katie’s girls. They are all so sweet. I look forward to getting to know them, although I know learning all their names will take some work. I was able to get to know Jane and Gracie who are the 2 youngest ones here in Uganda. (The youngest daughter, Patricia, went back to the States with Katie.) They both spent about an hour and a half sitting on my lap and climbing all over me. By the way, Jane looks much better than me in my sunglasses. I will hopefully get a picture up of it. It was interesting seeing how well prepared I was for Katie’s house. To be honest, growing up I never felt like I was very good around kids. This past year I was blessed by spending many evenings with Brian and Lisa’s kids. Isaiah, Abra, Elia, Hana, and Em I want to thank you for how much you have taught me. Even the short amount of time I’ve spent with Elisha and Judah has helped. Although I can’t imagine anybody feeling uncomfortable around those two. In all seriousness I thank the Lord for making me an uncle of such amazing kids to prepare me for the interactions with all the children that I will have over this coming summer.
(I need to come up with some catchy sign off like anchormen have)
Good night from all of us here in Uganda, and a special goodnight to any random people who happen to stumble upon my blog.