Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's my Ugandan birthday!

I just realized it's been exactly one year (minus a few hours) since I arrived in Uganda! Holy crap!

That is all...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Other people work here too!

On Sunday I decided to actually take a day away from work and... watch someone else work!

I decided to hop in my good buddy and (new!) flatmate Aussie Dave's truck (err - "Ute" as they call 'em in Oz) to take a look at the land the NGO he's started recently bought. He and a friend started United Futures Foundation based out of Sydney. They're building a primary school and vocational training institute on an innovative education model that places heavy focus on community involvement. They've just started breaking ground for their first school in Mpigi district, just West of Kampala. He wanted to go check on how the land-clearing is going so I decided to come along to check it out.

Quick summary: Dave's job is wayyyy more fun than mine!

Damn traffic on the Bypass

"That's a coffin on top of that matatu"
"Think there's a body in it?"
"But would you be surprised if there was?"

That's a big ol' plot of land. Presently they're just clearing two of their ten acres so that they can get up a couple classrooms and enroll their first primary class in February. Big ol' plot of land!

Dave and the engineer decided to take me on the boundary-tour of the plot

"Dave! Look pretty!"
And this is the best he could manage:

The back part of the land butts up against national forest land. Nice, open, uncultivated land...

Wait a second... what's this bush? It looks familiar. I swear I've seen that leaf on some t-shirts worn by nice Berkeley Street Gentlemen.
And there's one over there too. Huh. Oh whoa there's a whole lot of them!
Soooomebody's been busy...

I just read The Beach recently... gave me flashbacks!

Dave's response: "Income generating activity!"

Apparently it's a pretty regular problem here that as soon as you buy land, people come and start snatching all the wood they can from it before you actually physically move in. Looked like some snatchers had been here recently (and would probably be returning soon).

From the opposite corner of the section being cleared. And that's only a fifth of the land!

Dave drops some wisdom. Daniel the engineer pretends to listen/care.

Daniel: "and the tree-house will go heeeeeeere"

While the operator went to get more fuel we decided we should take advantage of the fact that Dave's paying for this heavy machinery for the weekend.
Pretty funny - it's apparently a government owned vehicle, so the guy could only work on the weekend. Aaand they got the rental for about 3/4 market price... somehow I don't imagine that money's going to find it's way to the "government" as owner of the truck...

Red-shirt guy: "Turn it on! Turn it on!"
Dave: "I don't think that would end well for either of us..."


What can I say? Heavy machinery complements my skin-tone nicely.

So I guess other people really do "work" here! Or something...

Work: tangiblized

Look! I just invented a word!

Two months since my last post. That's nearly 1/6th of the time I've been here. Slick, Afrikatz.

Welll as many of you probably know, the family recently visited and we had a ridiculously amazing time together. I have close to one million photos, and nearly as many stories, but the prospect of delving into that is massively intimidating at the moment. So I'm not going to!


Recently the data-entry company finally finished entering the 2,812 28-page surveys from the SaLSa baseline, and it was time to pick them up. Joe, IPA Uganda's phenomenal office- and data-manager, came along to see how my little vehicle would do with so many surveys. I was a bit nervous about how I could possibly fit all that in the Rav.

Flawless victory!

I'm so proud/smug

So proud of the little guy... 78,736 pieces of paper, and maybe half full?

Roped everyone currently in the office into helping carry them up the 5 stories to the office:

In the office

And for context (surveys from other survey exercises in envelopes on the other shelves)

Kinda weird seeing such a tangible, visible result of so much damn work. Looks so.... small. I swear I worked harder than that.

Now to start working on sampled re-entry to see how well data-entry company did (holding my breath...).