a letter from Chris in Uganda

Hi Friends!

I hope this email finds you happy and healthy! I miss you all very much. Hopefully, you won’t mind the group email. I have limited time to respond to a lot of emails but many have asked how it’s going on the other side of the world. Well, so far so good. I am still in Uganda and I’ve just completed training. I am now an official PC Volunteer. A whole day! It’s been a whirlwind, roller coaster of an adventure so far and there’s a ton more to come. I love it here though and in two months I’ve become pretty comfortable with my life here. It hasn’t always been easy and I’m sure I will experience more challenges down the road. There are some cultural situations I’m not always prepared for but handle them by asking questions and trying not to judge.

Now the real work begins.

My assignment will take me to a small town called Nkokonjero right above Lake Victoria and about an hour and a half East of Kampala… I will be working with several nuns who run a very special home for 220 residents. The residents that live there are disabled children, orphans whose parents have died from AIDS and an elderly population. The home offers vocational training for the few that can learn a trade (crafts, animal husbandry, shoe-making, baking, small business skills, sewing etc.) and they have a variety of income generating projects to help keep the organization going.

My job as I currently see it will be community outreach to the 12 surrounding villages about HIV AIDS education as well as to help take the home to the next level to make the quality of living better for the residents who live in the home. This will take a variety of shapes including: business training for the staff and some of the older residents, teaching computers skills, grant writing, marketing the bakery products that they just started making … and getting to know some incredible children. I will also use my degree to some extent to help understand what some of the disabled children may need to make their lives a bit easier. My supervisor is leaving a lot up to me, which is typical PC anyway. There are very special people that live here and I feel lucky to have been assigned such a job as it really encompasses not only the populations of people I’ve served in the past, but also the types of jobs I’ve held as well. I intend to serve them well.

The community is beautiful and I’m looking forward to living in such a wonderful place. Currently I”m living in a rectory of sorts until my house is ready for me to live in which is about a month down the road… It’s strange being in a place with so many crosses but I feel safe and comfortable. Plus, I have power and water so that’s a nice surprise as well since many of the others in my group don’t have these luxuries and will have to get water hauled from a nearby water source and rely on kerosene and flashlights at night.

The last two months were long and tiring but necessary to help acclimate to Uganda. I lived with a family where there were no less than 14 people at any given time. There were no ceilings in the house so you could always here what’s going on. I’m used to being on my own so it was a bit of an adjustment having very little control over my environment. But it was a great introduction to Ugandan life and an opportunity to get an idea about what to expect. I played and talked a lot with the children in my home and neighborhood and they helped me learn Luganda.

Life is slow in the outlying areas and time passes very differently here. With training over, I plan to send a lot more mail. So if you haven’t heard from me yet, you will.

I am happy and comfortable here and it’s nice to be living a simpler life at the moment. People here work extremely hard. Some of what is seen on the news about Uganda is correct: that many NGOs are corrupt and that money isn’t going where it should… however, there are also a lot of dedicated and committed Ugandans and volunteers who are ready for things to be different here as well. So we will work and do what we can. Yes, I know. Idealism at its finest. Well, we shall see how it goes.

I’m in Kampala at the moment and getting ready to take my VERY bumpy and crowded taxi ride back to my community. I had to get some cookware so I can finally begin cooking for myself…

The skies here are as beautiful as they say. Hope to hear from you.

Be well~!


p.s. i miss tony the most

ok she didnt write that part but if you read between the lines thats what it says. above photo taken on polk street in sf

its 151am and its warm

i havent been asleep before 3am at all this week. its been a strange week.

a year ago today i was freaking out after being fired i mean laid off, and if i remember correctly i barely enjoyed my time off because i didnt know how quickly i was going to be hired again so i sat around the house, occassionally going over to the mondrian pool to put my feet in the water, but mostly trying to save money.

big mistake.

if the lord gives you manna, eat it. there will be more tomorrow.

one of the nice things about not getting much sleep is it lowers the odds of any dreams. i pretty much hate dreams. dreams are lies sent right to your brain at your most vulnerable. you wake up and if it was a nice dream youre pissed cuz it wasnt true and if it was a nightmare you wake up pissed because your sleep was interrupted.

my life is interesting enough, i dont need any fake versions. but last night i had a dream that i was taking a shower because my girlfriend was coming over to go on a date with me.

whats funny is one of my favorite things is taking a shower preparing for a hot date, but my bathroom is pretty dark and in the dream it was really bright. and i was singing to myself. anyone who has seen my house knows that there is a music machine in every room of this place. three in my bedroom, one in the living room, one in the closet that i write to you, and a water resistant sony boom box in the bathroom. theres no reason for me to be singing.

nor do i sing. but dreams are retards and always get the story wrong so there i was singing. the tune was our house by madness. a song i like. the only reason that could have been in my head was because i was supposed to play it for the wedding but never did. instead i spun it must be love.

when i woke up i wasnt clean, i had no girlfriend, and i was probably the furthest to having one than ive ever been. i dont even think theres a babe in la who even likes me. and further, hell if i know even one line from the madness classic.

now that i have a car, if i were to be laid off again i would drive it around this country and meet girls whove always wanted to kiss me. i was gonna try to kiss lindsay when she visited me but i chickened out cuz i was so sick. murphys law – yesterday i was the least sick that ive been in two months. the two days of working from home was perfect.

i have a new doctor.

doc if youre reading this your pills and your advice were right on the money. so thank you. and i hope you start blogging soon.

kerry wood pitched for the cubs today and gave up a few homers in the loss. but you know what, id rather kerry wood give up a few runs for the cubs than any other asswipe except for mark prior and hes coming back soon too.

lost was fantastic last night.

they announced the bands for austin city limits yesterday:

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, the Flaming Lips, Massive Attack, Ween, Gnarls Barkley, the Raconteurs, the Shins, John Mayer, Feist, Stars, Cat Power and the Memphis Rhythm Band, Thievery Corporation, the New Pornographers, Sparklehorse, Son Volt, Aimee Mann, Nickel Creek, Nada Surf, Wolf Parade, Iron & Wine, Calexico, I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness, Ted Leo/Pharmacists, KT Tunstall, Secret Machines, the Rocket Summer, Okkervil River, José González, Matisyahu, Gomez, Galactic, G. Love and Special Sauce, Kings of Leon, Explosions in the Sky, Guster, Damien Rice, Damian Marley, Alexi Murdoch, Buckwheat Zydeco, Ben Kweller, Kathleen Edwards, String Cheese Incident, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Los Lonely Boys, Jack Ingram, Kasey Chambers, Centro-matic, Marah, the Black Angels, Sara Hickman, Trish Murphy, Asleep at the Wheel, South Austin Jug Band, Palm Elementary School Choir

it’ll take place from September 15-17 at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas.

bloopy + im writing more on thought mechanics + i have hot xgirlfriends + a photo essay from 5/19/05