Tuesday, October 31, 2006

the life of a day- Tom Hennen

Remarkable poem I heard on the bus between rwanda and mbarara
Enjoy!

The Life of a Day – Tom Hennen

Like people or dogs, each day is unique and has its own personality quirks which can easily be seen if you look closely. But there are so few days as compared to people, not to mention dogs, that it would be surprising if a day were not a hundred times more interesting than most people. But usually they just pass, mostly unnoticed, unless they are wildly nice, like autumn ones full of red maple trees and hazy sunlight, or if they are grimly awful ones in a winter blizzard that kills a lost traveler and bunches of cattle. For some reason we like to see days pass, even though most of us claim we don’t want to reach our last one for a long time. We examine each day before us with barely a glance and say, no, this isn’t one I’ve been looking for, and wait in a bored sort of way for the next, when, we are convinced, our lives will start for real. Meanwhile, this day is going by perfectly well adjusted, as some days are, with the right amounts of sunlight and shade, and a light breeze scented with a perfume made from the mixture of fallen apples, corn stubble, dry oak leaves, and the faint odor of last night’s meandering skunk.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Rwanda Genocide photos-

These are all unidentified. because they are still raising funds to build a tomb, the skulls are all sitting on shelves. we must remember so it happens never again

rwanda memorial site. I don't mean to desecrate the dead through sharing these photos, but the atrocities of the genocide can never occur again. we must remember


This was from one of the church sites where people were slaughtered at .

a few pics

At Rubanda Solidarity the kids showed off their traditional dancing for us.
here I stand with Martin and my gorilla trekking driver. Our car had gottne a puncture in the fuel exhaust and he wanted us to take him out for a beer while it was getting fixed so we obliged him.
We had 3 armed soldier go with us
Here is my gorilla trekking group
More gorillas
sitting on her haunches

the family of michael and Leroy, the rastafari from UK
The ugandan crane

A suitcase in africa: an annotated list

A suitcase in africa: an annotated list

Things I didn’t need to bring to Africa…

Boden travel French press. At 10 $ I thought it would be the buy of the century. Given a complete lack of coffee beans or grounds it is pretty much useless. That and I am entirely afraid to wash anything in the water here for fear of contamination. I have bought some raw coffee beans that I might be able to roast in the oven and grind with some device.

Water filter- I get boiled water from the sisters and bottled water is abounding. – the rumor that beer is cheaper than water is unfortunately not true.

Fishing shirt- Colombia sportswhere. Supposed to be quick dry material to deal with the sweat. Looks grey and ugly, and it wrinkles like heck.

Books- I am a bibliophile… brought too many- finding so many more here….

Chapstick- maybe I’ll need it in Tanzania

Tissues- I can buy a handkerchief for about 30 cents here and I can use it like 15 times before washing it. Gross , huh?

Travel alarm clock- time seems to have already lost all meaning to me… except for the roosters waking me up every morning.

Sleeping bag?- Well should have used it and now I have some itchy skin thing from the unwashed blankets at the run down hotels from this past week.

Nike running jacket- doesn’t seem to actually prevent rain from getting me.

Nalgene water bottles- smell like a bathroom even after washing them… mineral water cheap and abounding- also easier to pack.

Baseball hat- don’t seem to ever wear it

So many clothes – ever the pack rat. I think I would be better at washing my clothes if I just had less.

So many electrical wires… just kind of silly

orange whistle. – again just feel silly



Things I was happy I brought

Q tips- so much dirt everywhere

Safari Hat- terribly tacky- bought at the age of 12 and hadn’t worn for years. I use it as a personal umbrella and tick protection and sun blocker. Learning to love the hat

Timberland belt- bought some 5 years ago for really cheap- still works great and I wear it almost every day.

Chocolate from South Africa. I have been nursing the same bar for 2 months and it is soooo delectable.

Peptobisnal- If these were candy, I would eat them every day they taste so good! It may be in my head, but just chewing one of those and I feel cured.

The whole medicine kit- I feel like a real pro!

Universal adaptors for the ipod- works with the computer too!

Calendar- Thanks again Joy! I always stash some money in it in case I get pick pocketed. Serves as my song book as I learn church songs in all different languages.

Neosporin= don’t ask.

Things I wish I brought

Mini speakers that run on batteries. I got one this past year for dirt cheap at Willamette. Why did I leave it at home?

Some sort of pillow- who knew Ugandan pillows would be so uncomfortable.

More sunglasses- broke my last pair

More chocolate

Better ear plugs

Church song book= that way I could teach the songs I know and share them with the Jesuits here.

Beard trimmer- well now that I have it, I probably should have maintained it.

My dog

Something to clean my camera lens- who knew a camera store would be so hard to just come across

Addendum to Rwanda-

Addendum to Rwanda-

So I wanted to be sure that you knew that there were also a lot of catholic priests who risked there lives saving people during the genocide as well. There were a lot of religious who suffered or were assassinated during the genocide, including a number of bishops. I was slightly worried that my blog yesterday would give a one sided view. Ultimately it wasn’t a religious issue. It is just a wonder that humanity could have forgotten its humanity so easily. There are a number of institutions in Rwanda investigating France’s and Belgium’s compliance in the genocide. Specifically they are claiming that the French government trained the militia who did most of the slaughtering.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Apologies to commenters

It seems that I had tons of comments on my blog that never got published because I just didn't know. i just switched over though to the beta blogger, which, like everything else google touches seems to just work better (I still don't know if we can trust google though... ever the skeptic who enjoys their services tremendously) i am happy to see all the comments made on there and will take some time to reply later.
Much love,
Mike

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Rwanda-

Rwanda-
I made a quick jaunt down to Rwanda this past weekend with a girl I met in Ft. Portal named Jamie. While there I had a chance to see three different memorials. The first one was a museum that covered the history of the Rwandan genocide, as well as giving information about genocides in general. It was very well done.

I really had a hard time comprehending the genocide. Rwanda was by and large a catholic country. You wonder how can such a thing happen in the first place. We have had a bloody history in the past. When I found out, however, that certain priests had actually collaborated in the killing of their congregations, I was made sick to my stomach. One even bulldozed down his church to kill those inside of it. Seeing among the personal belongings of those killed small plastic rosaries, I asked myself where was God…. Echoing back in my head was that famous quote following the holocaust… where was man. Our governement, we in the states are also complicit in this genocide… where were we? They say that a force of 5000 could have ended the whole thing. It wasn’t just a day either, but a whole month of murders.
The distinction between hutu and tutsi was actually one that was created by the Belgians. They put the Tutsis in power during colonialism and then the government system was based on favors to this small group of people. When they ended colonialism, the Belgian government decided to just switch the roles, and put hutus in charge of everything. Then began the 30 year long persecution of the tutsis.

I traveled on Tuesday to nyamata, which is one of the genocide sites. It was a church were grenades were thrown into. I was led there by a woman who survived that attack in the church. You can still see where the ceiling has had shrapnel blown through it. Walking to the back of the church we found the tombs of those murdered. There the bones of the unidentified were stacked for all to see…. Never again.
Going to another site called nyatamara, we saw again a place where people were slaughtered in the church. First with grenades and then with machetes. It was difficult to imagine the violence that had happened there some 12 years ago even though the bones of the dead are lying in front of the church, exposed for all to see as they clean and sort them.

Oddly enough, the most emotionally moving site for me, was a memorial stone at the centre cristus, the Jesuit center where we were staying. It was put there in memory of 18 people who were assassinated. This stone helped me to realize deep in my heart that the genocide was not limited to sites, as one would experience from their tourism, but it was spread to every area of Rwanda.

Rwanda seems to now be one of the fastest developing nations in the region. They have done a lot of work to unify and reconcile. It used to be that on the ID badges it would say hutu or tutsi, but no longer. There is a zero tolerance policy on corruption and foreign countries are investing money and man power to build roads, buildings and other infrastructure. One man pointed out to me that the road we were on was being built by the germans and the following year the US would build an international airport. The city of Kigali seems to have no discernable center unless you are right at it. There are no sky scrapers and the whole city is spread out over a variety of hills.

Rubanda- call for help

Rubanda- call for help

On Monday I stayed in a place called Rubanda. This is just 20k away from the Rwanda border and I swear, it felt like I was living in Tuscany. I went there to go visit a priest who I met in Kampala named Fr. Dominic. It seems he is doing some real good work there. He is in charge of an NGO that he started called rubanda solidarity. Right now over 240 families are a part of it. They built a nursery school, since there wasn’t one in the town and now they are adding onto it a grade each year for primary school. They also have some income generating projects for youth dropouts like sweater making, mushroom growing and brick making. They make big cement/volcanic ash bricks. They have a number of other projects as well. Right now they need someone to help make a website so they can try and get more sponsors for their work. I would do it myself, but I don’t know how. It should be pretty easy as they have all that would go up on it already written out. They even have digital photos that can go up on there. Is there anyone out there willing to give a hand?

a few photos of gorillas

I saw one of these break the branch it was hanging on and fall straight down
This was a silver back that came right next to us and started eating fruit

Gorilla trekking at bwindi: The most expensive hour of my life.

The most expensive hour of my life.

I have just finished with a very expensive, and long journey. The day after returning to Kampala from Ft. Portal, I left with a german student named martin, a carribean born british Rastafarian named Leroy, a Ugandan working most of the year in Iraq named Michael, and a quiet lugandan driver named Julius to follow the promise of cheap gorilla trekking. I had met Michael at the independence day celebration and he told me how he was from the region and could get us in to see the gorillas for really cheap. I was hesitant, wondering what sort of back alley deal would have to go through before this would work. I met with him a few more times though and after seeing his friends, I judged that this guy was genuine. He showed up on Friday morning with our vehicle to go down to bwindi. We had ordered a truck, but at the last minute we somehow got stuck with a smaller car. Now, in the states this wouldn’t be a problem, but here on these roads it reduced us down to about 10-20 km/hr. we ended up spending a much longer time in the car than anticipated and upon arriving at where his family was, the only thing they kept saying was, you didn’t book in advance in Kampala to see the gorillas. Well, it was clear to me that there was some missing connection. Michael N. who seemed so put together on this issue clearly didn’t do his homework. I myself gave into the temptation of cheap gorilla trekking. Well, unfortunately, that proved to be a false temptation and I had to pay the whole fare. I was the only one willing to do it. Had I not been here on a fellowship, I definetley would not have done it. I had even texted a few friends who have lived here for some time to see if I should do it. One great missionary who I met in Ft. Portal told me, it was a once in a life time experience and that I could always earn money later. I took his advice and hoped that both accounts of it would be true.
Gorilla trekking…
There were 7 of us in our group. We were going to see group H, which is the largest habituated gorilla group with 22 gorillas in it. With us were 3 Australians, 2 brits, and me. Well, we started driving off at 8:30 in the morning to go see the gorillas. We drove around the length of the park until we came a far edge. There we hiked through matoke and millet fields till we met with the trekkers. They informed us that they had trekked the gorillas all morning and to our luck they had been led right there to the edge of the park. Now personally, I would have enjoyed a good 3 hour hike in the bush, but this is where the gorillas ended up, so what are you to do.
We began trekking into the park. Almost immediately we came across one gorilla who was sitting calmly. I couldn’t tell if it was really an animal or a statue at first, sitting as calmly as it was. The gorilla then turned over to look at us.

We moved on further down the hill till we reached a whole group of gorillas. The older silverback was sitting in the distance of this small clearing. This was about half the size of a VW bug. I made the mistake of standing on an ant hill and tried to keep a vestige of calm, holding the camcorder as I swatted at ants in my pants. Young gorillas were rolling on the ground, standing and pounding their chests. I was real fortunate to see these. These mountain gorillas are a very rare species. There are only 800 left in the world, all of them in this little corner of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo.
These gorillas moved on to the bush, so a few steps away we found some more up in a tree. Young Gorillas were climbing up and down. One even was hanging off a vine at one point to grab food when the branch broke.

Then one of the silverbacks walked right next to us and plopped down about 5 feet away from us and started eating fruit. It was truly something else. I can always earn money later in life… in the meantime, I got to see gorillas.

Gorilla trekking at bwindi

The most expensive hour of my life.

I have just finished with a very expensive, and long journey. The day after returning to Kampala from Ft. Portal, I left with a german student named martin, a carribean born british Rastafarian named Leroy, a Ugandan working most of the year in Iraq named Michael, and a quiet lugandan driver named Julius to follow the promise of cheap gorilla trekking. I had met Michael at the independence day celebration and he told me how he was from the region and could get us in to see the gorillas for really cheap. I was hesitant, wondering what sort of back alley deal would have to go through before this would work. I met with him a few more times though and after seeing his friends, I judged that this guy was genuine. He showed up on Friday morning with our vehicle to go down to bwindi. We had ordered a truck, but at the last minute we somehow got stuck with a smaller car. Now, in the states this wouldn’t be a problem, but here on these roads it reduced us down to about 10-20 km/hr. we ended up spending a much longer time in the car than anticipated and upon arriving at where his family was, the only thing they kept saying was, you didn’t book in advance in Kampala to see the gorillas. Well, it was clear to me that there was some missing connection. Michael N. who seemed so put together on this issue clearly didn’t do his homework. I myself gave into the temptation of cheap gorilla trekking. Well, unfortunately, that proved to be a false temptation and I had to pay the whole fare. I was the only one willing to do it. Had I not been here on a fellowship, I definetley would not have done it. I had even texted a few friends who have lived here for some time to see if I should do it. One great missionary who I met in Ft. Portal told me, it was a once in a life time experience and that I could always earn money later. I took his advice and hoped that both accounts of it would be true.
Gorilla trekking…
There were 7 of us in our group. We were going to see group H, which is the largest habituated gorilla group with 22 gorillas in it. With us were 3 Australians, 2 brits, and me. Well, we started driving off at 8:30 in the morning to go see the gorillas. We drove around the length of the park until we came a far edge. There we hiked through matoke and millet fields till we met with the trekkers. They informed us that they had trekked the gorillas all morning and to our luck they had been led right there to the edge of the park. Now personally, I would have enjoyed a good 3 hour hike in the bush, but this is where the gorillas ended up, so what are you to do.
We began trekking into the park. Almost immediately we came across one gorilla who was sitting calmly. I couldn’t tell if it was really an animal or a statue at first, sitting as calmly as it was. The gorilla then turned over to look at us.

We moved on further down the hill till we reached a whole group of gorillas. The older silverback was sitting in the distance of this small clearing. This was about half the size of a VW bug. I made the mistake of standing on an ant hill and tried to keep a vestige of calm, holding the camcorder as I swatted at ants in my pants. Young gorillas were rolling on the ground, standing and pounding their chests. I was real fortunate to see these. These mountain gorillas are a very rare species. There are only 800 left in the world, all of them in this little corner of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo.
These gorillas moved on to the bush, so a few steps away we found some more up in a tree. Young Gorillas were climbing up and down. One even was hanging off a vine at one point to grab food when the branch broke.

Then one of the silverbacks walked right next to us and plopped down about 5 feet away from us and started eating fruit. It was truly something else. I can always earn money later in life… in the meantime, I got to see gorillas.

Photos from my trip to Fort Portal

eating sugar directly from the cane! it requires a good strong jaw. Good thing i have been preparing as i grind my teeth in my sleep for years.
Standing with my good friend bert the chameleon. Jonelle wanted to take him home, but then she realized she wouldn't be able to catch live flies for him
this was one of the outcast buffalos.... I actually felt pretty sad for the three of them. They failed at competing for power, so they have to stay away from the other groups to preserve their lives... modern day buffalo lepers i guess.


Elephant!!

antelope posing for the cameraHippo on parade
dead buffalo... reminds me of dances with wolves
One of the sulfur lakes
Jonelle and I hugging the equator.
Fr. Fred's cousin, Fr. Emmanuel and I all out at Lake Nkuriba
Black and white monkey











Bee Keeping in Ft. Portal- i had a chance to do some agro tourism















Dressed in my conzul for the conjula.




Young Jesuit Scholastic (22) and I posing in the backyard

Trip to Fort Portal Continued…

Trip to Fort Portal Continued…

So, when I left off on here it was Tuesday and I was on my way to Queen Elizabeth with jonelle. We borrowed Fr. Fred’s truck, hired a driver, filled it with gas and headed down to QE. I do really wish that I knew how to drive stick, since there are no automatics here. Perhaps I can pay someone to teach me. Anyways, we left at 5:30 in the moring and because of bad road conditions it took about 2 hours to get there. At first driving around the park we wondered where all the animals were. We saw plenty of antelopes and warthogs, but there wasn’t an elephant in sight. It is a funny thing though, when I saw my first warthog I was amazed. By the end of the trip they were a little more banal. I am glad that I am seeing more of Uganda than just the game parks, but I wouldn’t have wanted to leave having missed it either. It seemed that the animals were scarce for the morning. We saw our first elephant just at a distance in the bush. Then we saw a hippo in one of the ponds. Most often you will only see hippos in the water since they have sensitive skin, but just as we watched it, the hippo rose out of the water and walked into the bush. Oh my, those things look huge!
Then while driving through the back roads, we came across a herd of about 15 elephants with their younglings having mud baths right next to the road.
I was in awe. They were about 20 meters away from us, tearing leaves from bushes, and caring for their young. It was a sight to see!

Later in the afternoon, we took a boat ride on lake Edward looking at the hippos and the buffalo.

On Wednesday Jonelle and I took a taxi out to the nature reserve at Lake Nkurbya. We booked a guide and went hiking through all the different crater lakes. While doing this we also hiked through many of the smaller villages. I had seen for the first time houses that were roofed with banana leaves. I have a hard time understanding how there could ever be a hunger problem here in Uganda. The land here is very fertile. It turns out though, that two issues is malnutrition and the fact that many of the children are only dewormed every three years. They are thus eating for free.
I ate sugar cane directly off the cane in one of the local villages. You really have to have a strong jaw to rip the outer coats from the cane. Seems all that teeth grinding has finally been put to good use.

I also tried some of the local alchohol, which is a drink called ouaragi, which is in effect banana gin. It is good stuff, but has a strong bite to it.

In the end, we took a dip in the lake there. I was told that it was snails free, so I hopefully won’t get worms. Feeling great though, so i think i am in the clear.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Well, I am going to use this free time, really the only free time I’ve had to try and update you on the past two weeks. It has been pretty crazy! I have seen elephants, monkeys, chimpanzees (our closest relative) and gorillas. Some travel was just what I have needed after spending way to much time in Kampala. Kampala is a nice city. It is smaller than Portland in terms of size and development, but there are around 6 million people living there. The traffic is horrendous and the conditions are croweded. A good friend told me that when in kampala, you are always stepping on other peoples tomatoes. I left kampala for fort portal to go see the introduction of a fellow who I went to bushyeni with. An introduction is the formal beginning of the wedding process. It in fact used to be the main ritual of the wedding, but with Christianity introducting the contractual marriage, if someone can afford it. The introduction is the time here when the two families meet officially or formally for the first time. A marriage in africa is a dynamic or progressive marriage. Meaning the marriage typically isn’t finalized until after a child is born. It is also at this point that the dowry is settled. It is a big cultural event. Unfortunatley, I was forgotten and not called until after the even itself was over. Quite frustrating to be honest.
On Sunday I made my way out to the Kibale forest to go chimp trekking. My day was just filled with blessings. First I was able to get change for a 50,000 note from a gas attendent. That may seem like nothing, but a person could starve here in Uganda with a 50,000 shilling note (25$ about) in their pocket. I swear the country does not make enough 1000 notes! Ahh it can be frustrating. Well, I then took the taxi to the forest. I even had a chance to see some baboons on the way out there. Well, I arrived and was informed that the chimp trekking was booked for the day. I decided to wait around to see if I might have any luck. Well, to my great fortune, one person didn’t show up from Kampala. All the praying I did at church because I didn’t understand the mass being said in encholi must have worked. Well, with harriet my guide we began to make our way through the forest. After about an hour of walking we saw one chimp way high in the trees. I thought to myself, is this it? Did I pay to see a small hand way high up. I decided to keep praying and asked harriet how she felt. “lucky” she replied and we kept trekking. Then she and I came upon 2 chimps sitting on the ground! As we moved forward to get closer, they became aware of us and started screaming and running. We followed them as they climbed a tree. Soon they were shouting to tell the rest of the chimps about the food they found. All the sudden, we were surrounded by some 30 chimpanzees. Ahh, I tell you it was amazing!

On Monday, a candian named jonelle and I decided to go down to Queen Elizabeth national park. While there I even met a missionary couple from Oregon! It was really cool connecting with someone else who has a great love for my state.

We saw some 20 elephants, a whole bunch of buffalos.


more to come later. I am burning money

I just went gorilla trekking, now on my way to rwanda for a few days.
peace,
mike

Friday, October 20, 2006





Out in Ft. portal.

Out in Ft. portal.

I just returned yesterday from a good long trip in Ft. Portal. It was great getting away from traffic laden Kampala to a place where people charge you the same price that they charge everyone else despite the fact that you are white. While there I had a chance to go Chimp trekking in the Kibale Forest, to hike through small villages surrounded by matoke (banana) fields to see the crater lakes and to go visit queen Elizabeth national park where I saw hippos, buffalo, elephants and wart hogs. I am leaving in just a few minutes to head down to bwindi impenetrable forest to see the gorillas. I also might make a trip to rwanada to see the gorillas. I promise to post photos on my return when I have more than 10 minutes on the computer. Here it takes about 30 minutes to load photos…..

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

just a quickie

Quick update


So what’s up here?
I went to the the independence day celebrations the other day. It was interesting, although the stomach meds that I went on make me sensitive to the light and even despite the giant safari hat I still managed to get a good sun burn.

What an odd mixture of experiences there. I met a guy named Michael who is a Ugandan currently working in Iraq. He pointed out to me the last group of soldiers on the field who paraded past us. These were new recruits who are going to work in security detail in Iraq. Leave it to the US to import from the the third world cheap labor to be in our riskiest situations! I think he said they get paid some 1000$ a month, which would put one in a very high income bracket here in Uganda. I still don’t know how I feel about this. Even though it is consensual, it seems like another form of slavery…..

I had a chance to see quite a few traditional dances there. I would have photos, but I was told by the security go I couldn’t bring any camera in. Well, I decided to hid the camera away in the far reaches of my bag in the water bladder container. Thank god for Costco bags and hidden compartements. I was a good 50 meters away from the president of Uganda, the VP of Tanzania and the president of Burundi (another country on the US travel warning list that I can’t go to.

The traditional dancing troupe from Burundi was amazing. They came out 15 of them with drums on their heads. They were tapping the sides of the drums while beating the front. They also did some acrobatics.

The talk by museveni was far from interesting. I might have had that feeling though, cause I had already been standing for four hours.

The first 15 minutes of his speech seemed to cover the topic of oil and the process by which oil is finally being locally refined here in Uganda. He also spoke briefly about Prosperity for all. This is the vision of his party, but it seems in Uganda “all” is a very select group of people. Finally he threatened the northern rebels again… The way this man talks about Peace, you wonder if he really wants it. For him, peace will come whether the peace talks fail or not. Peace has to grow out of justice. It is a very difficult situation up north. The rebels want the ICC charges dropped. The ICC refuses. On the one hand, I can see how the ICC is trying to prevent any such crimes from happening in the future, but at the same time, Peace is needed in the north now! I don’t know… I will get back to you on this..

I am also finally getting over my sinus infection.

I started volunteering at a local “school” set up by undugu. There is no universal primary or secondary education here, so if you can’t pay for the school fees, then most of the children just have to stick around home. This makes them very depressed, so undugu has set up this informal school. They are still working out a plan for the syllabus and finding a way to pay for school fees. So today I taught English and math for two hours. I also realized, I still have no idea how to do long division…..

Now I have joined forces with one of the Jesuits here to help out with the Gulu Walk Event. www.guluwalk.com

Well, I have to go canvas.

Take care all,
mike

Friday, October 06, 2006

Photos from days recent in Uganda

here is a picture of the last prison i visited in kayunga. It was very much in a state of disrepair.
these are the female prisoners. the female ward is tiny! probably smaller than most bathrooms in the states.
here are some of the male convicts. this is where they sleep. I wasn't able to take photos until the officer in charge heard that one of the pentecostals i was with had worked to do restoration of 2 other prisons. then he insisted that i go around and take photos. Self/communal interest working out for my best eh?
Here I stand with the prisoners from the last prison I went to. don't worry, we aren't "sticking them up, although it may appear like that. The officers yelled out raise your hands if your saved or some such thing.
Here I stand posing with my friend John, prisoners, and officers. Odd huh? Behind us is the jug fruit tree. the jug fruit gets to be about twice the size of the fruit there. Perhaps not a good tree to nap under
the man next to me is also a prisoner and he is translating for me. ... I still have bad posture even in Africa.

--Here I am "preaching" to the prisoners. More of a tirade on a whole bunch issues mixed with messages about empowerment
here is the first prison i visited in Mukono




Some of the kids hard at work.

Here are the toliets for the students and teachers. Some teachers left the school just because of the poor facilities
here is the school that i visited that works with orphna children. Ahead are 4 classrooms. When i was in one i could hear every other class.
--
So I have been wanting to get a photo of these cows for a long time, but never had the camera. I apoligize for the bad photo quality, but they are standing on a garbage heap that is burning and I didn't want to get too much smoke in my lungs. These cows have giant horns and they come and pick up the food at the local land dump, which is right next to the road. The gov. comes and burns the garbage.

--here is the courtyard for the jesuits
--


here is one of the many boats out on lake Victoria

Hanging out with the jesuits at lake Victoria- yes, i got a hair cut

Prison Preacher

10/06/06
Prison preacher.

As many of you know, I have had a chance in Berkeley and in Oregon to get involved with prison ministry. I was telling one man about this a few weeks ago while visiting a bible study and he was quite happy to hear about my interest and passion for this part of ministrty. He was in prison for 6 years and it was there where he first converted to Christianity and became a born again Christian. He was selected as the translator for a group of missionaries who came into the prison and it was through that experience that he himself came to Christ. Now he is an associate pastor for a Pentecostal church that he and another pastor started. He told me that he would get me out to see some of the prisons.

Yesterday we left at 8:30 in the morning to begin our journey to the prisons. We met up with a man named Francis, who has done extensive work trying to change the conditions of the prisons, and we visited a local prison in Mukono which is a holding place for those who are suspects as well as a place for convicts. This facility was renovated extensively by the Pentecostal church of Uganda and a group from Norway (NORAD) . They now have better cooking facilities, toilet facilities and sleeping quarters. They also have opportunities to learn skills such as carpentry and mat/basket weaving.

The state of prisons are much different from those in the US. At this first prison, prisoners had to leave each day in search of some work so as to get food. They also have a very small garden where they can grow food.

The second prison I visited is in the town of Kayanga. This is a very large prison which has been run for a long time by the central government. This was in fact the place where my friend was once a prisoner. Some of the guards remembered him from his time there. Fortnatley, many people with a heart for this ministry have done a lot to change the situation from when he was in there. When he was there, it would not be uncommon for prisoners to be beaten or humiliated by the guards.

The prisoners at this prison are sent out each day into the bush surrounding the compound to clear land and dig and farm. Any prisoner who tries to escape is typically shot and killed. If a prisoner escapes, then the officer who was in charge of him gets a pay cut.

We toured around and my friend asked if I could give some words of encouragement. I stammered and told him that I am no pastor, but I will do my best. Inside, I was secretly hoping that I would never have to complete this task. Well, they gathered all of the men and they had one of the prisoners, who serves as their Sunday preacher, translate, and low and behold, I was a prison preacher. Oh my, who knew it was in me. I basically just went off on a tirade about how they can be agents of peaces, how they have the ability and capacity to change the structures around them. I went off about the consumer Christianity that has penetrated Uganda and how Christianity calls them to something greater, which is seeking out justice for our communities. I even touched on inculturation, the richness of Africa, the need to remember the oppressions of slavery and of colonialism and the mzungu disease (the idea that anything white is better). I could have been speaking for 20 minutes or more. I wish I spoke the local language so I could understand what the translator was saying. Apparently whenever he didn’t understand my English, he talked around it trying to give them some picture of what I was saying. This man was a lame and used crutches to get around. Looking around as I talked, I could people nodding their heads, taking in the message I was giving. Oh, it was a great feeling. The guys I were with were so happy about my preaching, that they decided to take us to another prison to preach there.

This other prison that we went to was another one of the smaller local prisons. They were in much worse conditions than the previous prison at mukono. There were basically two buildings and some outdoor cooking facilities. One building was for the officers and the other was the wards for the prisoners. For the prisoners there were just 3 rooms. 2 larger ones were for the men and one very small one was for the women. John had me preach here as well, but I could tell that there was a little more enthusiasm at the other prison in Kayunga, where they already have a church community of some sort. Also, the other prisoners got off of working at the farm so they could here us tlak, so there was some material benefit for htem too. The Officer in Charge was insistent that I go around and take photos of all the facilities so the conditions they are living and working in can be documented. Another officer from Jinja approached us and asked John and I to visit 5 more prisons out in the east. So imagine that, I became a prison preacher.


Visiting the school.

I have agreed to help pastor Abel out by recording some of the ministries that his NGO bible grace ministiries is involved in. I am happy that I was able to get the Undugu guys on board, since making this “documentary” as he searches for sponsors is a project a little too big for me while I am here doing my research. I went with him to a school for orphans the other day. Some of these kids only get one meal a day of maize flour porridge. I didn’t really have a chance to interact with the students since they were in classes. I have been asked by fr. Stephen if I could volunteer a little time to help out with a school that undugu runs. I look forward to the opprortunity to do some hands on work in teaching English to these kids.


Oh and a side note…
I got sick again. This time it was my own dang fault as I just chomped down on some lettuce that was sitting on the table. I tried to “will away” the sickness, but it only helps in preventing the effects of it, but not healing it. I have been on peptobisnal all week. I am now on some antibiotics to clean this out. I also ate some small grain like seeds called simsim the other day and I think one somehow got up in the nasal cavitiy and I now have a sinus infection… looks like my first bout of illness was only just the beginning.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

finally got some photos up here on the blog

another friend named john who came out to Busheyjni district with me.
The uganda martyrs shrine- this is a church built to look like the ancient huts of the day.
Breaking the language barrier!
Some of the kids at the worship service in western uganda


a view of the beautiful hills (and the main toliet facility... a whole in a concrete floor)
















the raging nile




John and I on the nile








john and i on the nile






double fisting nile












Me and the Reverend Sabo and Pastor Abel out in the western part for a seminar/crusade on chrstian values