16 September 2010

One More Really Quickly

And then I swear I'll put up the big one that's sitting on my laptop at home.

In the tiny town of Pader in northern Uganda right now, just on the internet for a few minutes, as usual. I'm here with Eliza (who's another PCT) and we're visiting Sandi who's been here for a year. She works at a secondary school for girls who were orphaned/abducted by the LRA, helping (among other things) to teach life skills to girls who haven't lived normal lives in years or ever and so we're going over there in a bit. It sounds really intense, but also really awesome.

Five hour bus from Kampala to Gulu on Tuesday, saw Jamie Roach's (for those of you on Mom's side of the family) picture on the wall of the cafe there that he helped start with IC, then yesterday we took a 3.5 hour matatu (shared minibus taxi with 12 other people) out here. Really awesome. Eliza and I were sitting there, hot and dirty, as Peace Corps kids sharing a car with 12 Ugandans on a middle-of-nowhere red dirt road dodging pond-sized potholes and lorries and white NGO Land Cruisers that drive straight at you until the last minute (so don't stick your hand out the window) and goats and kids and bicyclers, passing concrete schools with uniformed kids playing football in the field outside and round mud huts with grass-thatched roofs listening to Bob Marley on her iPod. Stereotypes.

But it is good to be here. Good to be out of Wakiso. Good to be away from lots of other white people (not in a bad way) (except in Gulu, which was nice, but was also NGO-Central, which actually was a lot more noticeable than I thought it would be, not only with the logo-ed Land Cruisers and white people, but also infrastructure-wise as far as roads and cleanliness and all that; but that's a whole other story) and good to travel somewhere and sit in a bus and a taxi and look out the window and see somewhere new. All that goes to say that I'm really excited to be here. Which is why we're getting off the internet in a few.

But, one more story. Yesterday we saw an older man who was sitting outside leaning against his hut and when we walked by, he went to wave at us, we realized he had no hands and no feet, and it took me a beat to realize that he was not born like that, and that he had hands and feet at one point, and they were savagely taken away from him. So that's what it's like up here, I guess. Just constant small reminders that they've been in a war for 20+ years that no one is unaffected by, even if it isn't as obvious as with that smiling, happy-looking man who's obviously been through things that would keep most people from smiling again.

That's all. It's intense. But it's good. I'm happy to be here -- Pader-here and Uganda-in-general-here, I mean.

(Also, we crossed the Nile on the way to Gulu, so now I've seen it right near it's source and it's mouth, and I thought that was neat.)