Molly in Africa

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

More from Mbale

The newness of CRO is wearing off which has good and bad aspects. The good is that I know a lot of the kids names, I am able to interact with them comfortably and I enjoy the time I have with them because we're finding ways to communicate with one another more easily despite language barriers. I am also much more comfortable with the staff and I enjoy both silly and serious interactions with many of them on a daily basis. The bad is that I am less stimulated in this environment now and because the staff is used to my presence, they no longer go out of their way to help me find things to do each day. This week, that means that I've just found myself in the little muzungu office (I share it with the two Norwegians) typing monthly reports at the computer. I am able to appreciate the fact that I can type so much faster than any of the staff here so I am really helping them out, but at the same time, it's hard to only have unstructured free time with the kids. I finished another report yesterday, so I am hoping that at least for the rest of this week I won't have to type any more. Unrelated to the amount of time I've spent at CRO, my closest friend on the staff, Eric, is on leave from CRO now because he has meetings to attend in Kampala. This has just been a bummer since I enjoyed his company at CRO and he always helped me find things to do, whether it was go on home visits or sit in on counseling.

Interesting events from this past week:
- Last Wednesday, I went with a social worker and one of the formal school girls (she's in S3 which is American equivalent to sophomore in high school) to the police station. When this girl was younger her stepmom used to beat her and her younger sister and that's what drove them to the streets in the first place. Once they got hooked up with CRO, CRO helped resettle them with their grandmother who is disabled. On Tuesday night, the grandmother had sent this girl and her younger sister to their dad's house to ask for some help with food since there was no food at the grandmother's home. The father wasn't there, but the stepmom was and she began to beat them. The younger sister noticed a knife in the stepmom's hand and encouraged the two girls to run home, but the older girl didn't get out fast enough. The older girl was beaten and even had a cut on her left wrist where she bled onto her clothes. Once the girl got out of there, instead of running home, she ran straight to one of the social workers' houses. She and the social worker reported to some kind of night police and then went to a local hospital to have a report filled out. On Wednesday, we were just doing a follow up visit to the police where more paperwork was filled out. The police said that they would write a letter to the local council leader in the area of the stepmom demanding the stepmom's presence on Friday and if the stepmom doesn't show up then she will be put in jail. I was not around for most of the day on Friday so I am not sure how that has resulted, but I will give a small update to let you all know when I know.
- Last Friday, I went to a graduation ceremony for a local vocational training institute. They are a sister organization to CRO and many CRO kids go there for formal vocational training. Also, the CRO choirs were going to perform- both singing and dancing. It was a really interesting event to witness- very African, despite some abnormal English formalities. The kids were great in their performances- I think the CRO choir was better than the choir from the institute which was fun. The dancing was amazing and I wish you all could see it because there is no way I can do it justice here. I took some video footage of it on my digital camera, so I can share that with you all when I return home.
- On Saturday, I went to an introduction ceremony. An introduction ceremony is, as I learned on Saturday, the event where the families of the bride and groom to be meet one another. Family is really important in Africa, and many people base their opinions on people largely on the behavior of their family. So, it is very important to have this ceremony and have it be successful so that the families will bless the wedding fully. The ceremony is hosted by the girl's family and the man's family travels in one huge caravan to wherever the girl's family lives. It's a rather lavish event and a large part of the event is that the man's family brings "some" gifts as they were called, to the woman's family. I believe these gifts are what fed the guests for the rest of the day- two large bunches of matooke, basket after basket filled with everything from fruit to sauces to potatoes, crate upon crate of sodas and there was more! Everyone in attendance wears African formal wear- either a Gomez (sp?) or a Kitangi. I wore a Kitangi which I had made last week and it was very nice- or "smart" as I was told over and over again that day. Hopefully Thanksgiving weekend when I am in Kampala, I will be able to visit the wireless internet café and put all my photos up online so that you can all see what I've been experiencing these past three weeks. I really enjoyed the introduction event. I should mention that it was very ceremonial- the guests all sat during the entire event and there was an area where all of the activities took place right in the middle that everyone watched. As I told my parents when I talked to them on Monday, I really liked the concept of the event and meaning behind it and would kind of like to have one for myself when I get married- a much less expensive version though that probably wouldn't include gifts- just a chance for my family to meet my husband-to-be's family before the wedding. It's a great way to show how important one's family is.
- On Sunday, I was sick, so I didn't leave the house all day- just a bad stomach ache and a frustrating headache, but enough to keep me from church in the morning which was a bummer. I was going to go with Esther, my new host mom, to her church which (as I've heard from the two Norwegians who went last week) is quite interesting- people fainting, getting saved, getting spirits expelled from their bodies… really entertaining.

I could probably spend a whole post on religion here in Uganda, but I'll save that for a rainy day. For now, I'm off to continue this crazy adventure here in Mbale. Thanks to all who continue to post and or email- as my mum posted, I really do enjoy hearing from all of you and knowing that you're keeping up on my life! Lots of love to you all!

Oh, just a preview of what's to come: I am going to Kampala this weekend to visit friends and to attend a wedding with Esther. I'm excited because it's a Catholic wedding and it will be really nice for me to be back in a Catholic church and because Esther has invited my two friends Gabe and Krista (who came to visit me two weekends ago) to join us!


At 9:08 AM, November 16, 2006, Blogger Bob Heineman said...

Great post once again. Yeah, I'd like to hear more about religion there. Do you get rainy days?
An African Archbishop has caused a great stir in the Vatican by ordaining 4 married men to be bishops in America and talking about a break-away Catholic group in Africa that would allow priests to marry. Some observers think that may get the Vatican to open up priesthood, allowing married priests to return to ministry. I'm skeptical that that will happen.
On the other hand, the archbishop of Kampala, Uganda, Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala, told the BBC Panorama documentary Sex and the City that it was preferable to die than to use a condom.

love you
__ DAD

At 10:53 PM, November 16, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fascinating, Molly! Thanks so much for being so very descriptive.

Love you,

At 10:49 AM, November 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Molly, it sounds like you are having so much fun, I can't wait until you get back and you can tell me everything you haven't put in here!

At 11:45 AM, December 10, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is great what you are doing keep going at it. The grils scouts in my troop are sending some things with your parents when they visit.
P.S. I am from Evanston IL and go to St. Nicks parish. One of my leaders said you sang at that church.


Post a Comment

<< Home