Saturday, November 17, 2012

Close of Service

Dear Everyone,

I can not believe how time has flown by, it has been 3 months since I posted!   I can not believe that I have been out of the US for 27 months!  I hope everyone had a great summer now that fall in upon us!
Since I wrote last, Peace Camp had just ended and I was finalizing all the book work.  It really was a big success and I was able to see the impact on some of the youth when they returned to their village.  In Iceme, Oyam District we have combined everyone from the Peace Camp 2011 & Peace Camp; 2012, Camp BUILD National and Regional, Camp GLOW National and Regional and formed a club.  They all got together and built some of the Recreation Project games, they built the walking slats, the spider and the 5 person team walking wood.  It took them 2 days initially and then another 2 days when the walking slats broke.  You can see a picture of it on this blog, but also on facebook.  You see how they had to balance themselves, like balancing in life (when you fall, you get up and keep going).  They had a great time and felt like they really accomplished something.  

I had to write a book for the County Director on Peace Camp 2012.  So that kept me busy and I did not really complete it until my COS date.  I finished it when I went to Kampala...but now it is done.   The money finally came right after camp ended, so we were able to pay everyone back...that was good.  But they really need to change that policy about opening a joint bank account with your partners.
Early September we had All Volunteer Conference.  This conference is put on by the PCV’s and sponsored by PC Uganda.  Well, normally it is a great conference where PCV’s share projects and ideas and really get motivated to go back into their communities and work and maybe implement some of the projects!  However, this year it really was not very good and the PCV’s were not showing up for the was a waste of time and effort and the tax payers money.  I was really disappointed at the young PCV’s, they really did not make good use of their time.  Plus, it was a 8 hour bus ride for me to get to Masaka. 
Also in September when I got back from Masaka, I had a workshop for Iceme Community on how to cook and the importance of the Moringa Tree.   Moringa Trees grow in Subtropical areas and they are all over Uganda.  Moringa leaves prevent 300 diseases.  It’s like growing a multivitamin at your doorstep.  They are able to eat every bit of the tree; the leaves, pods, flowers, and bark.  The Moringa tree can prevent malnutrition and it builds up the immune system.  It is really too bad that we do not have them in the US.  I have told the Ugandan’s that they are so lucky, that we have to buy a Moringa supplement in a Vitamin shop in the States.  So hopefully they will start using it because they really need to boost up there immune system.

I then traveled to Gulu.  The new US Ambassador for Uganda went to the North to meet people that work up there for the Embassy and he wanted to meet the Peace Corps Volunteers in the North.  I really liked him, I think he will be good for Uganda. He stated that if Uganda does not get the population under control it will be the death of the county.  He said that right now Uganda’s population is 36 million and at the rate of births in the county, by 2019 there will be 92 million.  I think that if this happens the people will starve and will not get healthcare.   The next day, I was able to get a ride in an Embassy car to go to Kampala for my COS medical....Boy was that a treat!  NO BUS!

When I got back to Iceme, the camp groups built the mini recreation project.  It was alot of fun, but I was very tired.  Tien and Jackie, both PCV’s were also there to help the youth.  Tien traveled from Kampala with me and stayed at Iceme about 4 nights to help me buy the supplies in Lira and get them back to Iceme.  Getting the supplies was alot of work and an all day affair.  But we got what we needed and got the job finished.  The youth were so happy.

I then got together with the Head Master at the Iceme Primary School and the Awio Primary School to set up Outreach Healthcare lectures for the youth on HIV/AIDS, STD’s and Behavior Change.  Boy, there were over 800 children in each school, this was only in Primary 4, 5, 6 and 7 that I taught.  It was also interesting to see the difference in disciple and language in the schools.  One school the youth were more educated with English and spoke English and were very disciplined.  The other school spoke the native language and did not understand English too well and they were unruly.  They were both government schools.   But, all the youth loved hearing the information.  Not surprising, some of them it was the first time that they ever saw a condom and did not know about masturbation.  The ABC’s that they learned and went so well in the late 80’s and early 90’s at decreasing the rate of HIV has lost their gain.  The condoms are not distributed to the districts, so the youth can not get them, they are just not readily available.  Yes, if you go 48 kms to Lira or Gulu you can get them for a price at the Pharmacy.  So the condoms are too much trouble to get and it is expensive to get them.  It really is sad.  Also, they tell them to Abstain as the “A” but do not tell them an alternative i.e. masturbating.  So the youth really were happy for the information as well as debunking some of the myths that they had been told.  I really enjoyed teaching them!  They get so excited and are so happy to get the information, it really makes you feel good.

I then went to Gulu to meet one of the Peace Camp participants that wanted me to read his war story and put it into english format.  You see they talk very different when speaking english.  They never have learned proper english.  So that still is an ongoing project of mine.

I tried to get ahold of the Heifer Organization to see what was going on with the Heifer Project to bring more livestock into Iceme.  I did not get anything accomplished with them, but the Veterinarian in Iceme Subcounty is willing to work with the community and buy the pregnant cows, as well as teach the community how to care for them.  So when I got back to the US, a close friend of mine, Cheryl is setting up a webb page to raise funds for the project.  She arranged for a friend of hers to video me to put on the webb page.  I really felt that I did not do a good job (I think I was still jet lagged and really could not concentrate), but hopefully it can be edited so it is okay.   So I might have to go back to Iceme and check on the progress of the project in a year or two if we get funding!  I will let you know the webb page she sets up!

My PC Country Director traveled up North to visit some of the volunteers and see their sites.  If she had come 1 week later, she would have seen my site a wreck.  I would have been packing to leave.  She was able to visit me and do an exit interview and meet my supervisor.  After that visit, I only had about 4 days to finish up, pack and say my goodbyes to the community.  I left my community of Iceme on October 17th and went to Kampala to finish my close of service.   It was sad, but happy and I was excited to make it back to the States.  But, I feel that I am not finished with International Development!  I know that I will be traveling again.

I had planned to go to Egypt on the 22nd, however due to the bombings and the death of the US Ambassador in Lybia PCV’s were not allowed to go to Egypt.  But, since I was not a PCV any more, I was a RPCV so I could go on my own if I wanted.  I elected to go to LA to see how Angel was doing for about 6 days and then pick my trip back up in Thailand.  I had a great time with Angel and Nathan in LA and it was so good to see Angel again.  I can not wait to see the rest of my family in Virginia in December.

So then I left the US on the 30th of October and landed in Bangkok, Thailand on November 1st.  You can see some of the pictures of Bangkok on facebook.  While in Bangkok I got to see Lisa Moses Art Exhibit.  Then I went flew to Chiang Rai on the 6th to stay with Lisa and Danny.  There home is beautiful and we did alot of tourist things.  It was alot of fun. we went to the White Temple, the Black Temple the Hill Tribe Village and many other excursions!    While in Thailand I wanted to experience a mindfulness meditation, so I spent 3 nights at one of the local meditation centers.  It was very interesting, but I think that I like the meditation I am use to better.  But I met alot of great people here at the Foundation.  We had people from all over the world, Germany, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Belguim, US and France.  I am sure that there are more, but this is all I can remember right now.  They have alot of volunteers here, I met one couple that had just finished there PC service from Ethiopia and they were staying here as a 2 week volunteer.  Also, I found out about alot of other places in the world that you can volunteer.  They give food and accommodations, but most of them you have to get there and pay for anything else.  I really enjoyed the different cultures of everyone.

I will go back to Danny and Lisa’s home for tonight and leave for India in the morning.  I plan to do a 26 day yoga/meditation retreat, it is a cleansing/relaxing time for me before I get back to the states.
So that brings you up to date.  I am not sure if I will have internet in India, but if so I will try to update you before I leave for the states in December.

Have a Great Happy Thanksgiving if I don’t blog you before then!  We have so much to be Thankful for!
Stay safe and Happy!
Love &  Light,

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