06 September 2008

USA trip & Computer Lab Fundraiser

I've been back from "the future" (a.k.a. the states) for about a week and a half now and thought I'd take this opportunity to point out a few of the wonderous things that I always used to take for granted:

  • Water that comes from the wall, and it's even drinkable (faucets, drinking fountains, hot reliable showers, toilets that flush, plumbing truly is amazing).
  • FREE water with ICE at restaurants coupled with good service.
  • Wearing shorts outside and even no shirt at the lake.
  • Lines painted on beautiful roads, with sidewalks and relatively orderly traffic.
  • Cleanliness - because it's not crazy dusty, even though you can take a shower ever day, you don't really need to.
  • Fast Internet
  • Washing machines (do you know how much time this saves - holy gosh!)
  • FOOD. All types. All flavors. (esp. Subway & BBQ)
  • and last, but not least Awesome Friends and Amazing Family.

Three weeks was too short, and although I was afraid that home wouldn't feel like home when I got back, I had a ridiculously awesome time (and I must apologize to the Wheelers that "awesome" is my adjective of choice, it's just the most apt ;).

On the subject of Amazing Family, I want to thank the enormous efforts of my mom, Linda Zeringer, who as a surprise raised over $1500 towards my computer lab project!!! She, without any of my knowledge, colluded (how's that for vocab) with my brother-in-law, Jason, to create a website to raise money and surprised me on my trip home. The website is fairly easy as it's the same address as this blog minus ".blogspot":

The Uganda Jones Fundraiser - http://ugandajones.com

This site will be updated with the status of the project soon and even a graph (you know how I love 'em), although, I'll probably give lengthier discussions of what's going on here.

As of now, there's enough money (with the $600 I've managed to save from my monthly stipend) to buy the first half of the lab! However, I'm unsure as to the status of money raised here in Uganda among the community (remember they must match by 10%) beyond the fact that all parents were asked to donate in recent progress reports sent home. It's currently a break between terms (like a mini-summer break), so few people are around the school. When we restart I hope to be meeting more with the school administration and parents to setup a management committee and hopefully order the first shipment of computers!

Besides that, being back has been good, but a bit boring. I am utterly amazed at the ability of American children to get bored - with all of the books, fast internet, public transport, accessible and nearby parks and public places and frisbees, games, etc. How could it ever get boring? A village in Uganda (and probably most developing nations) has surprisingly little to do. There's work (gardening with a hoe, washing clothes by hand, etc.) of course -- and the kids get plenty of that, but when that's done (sometimes it never is, especially the girls work so hard). There's not much to do except sit, or maybe borrow a radio or kick around a soccer ball made from plastic bags. Coming from the a land of constant entertainment I get bored really easy and have been reading an almost unhealthy amount. I've read 3 or 4 books in the last week and a half, and sometimes have even resorted to just sitting. Well, sitting and chatting with neighbors anyway, which is not time wasted.

Lest you think that I'm doing nothing, I still have to cook, bathe, and wash clothes (all of which take a much larger chunk of time to do than you'd think), and I've been teaching small, fun computer classes to the P7 kids (6th graders) in the mornings. I also just started a reading club with 20 copies of Freak the Mighty with the local upper-secondary students. It's a cute little book written for roughly American 5th graders which means lots of explanations of "freak" "doofus" "butthead" "moron" in addition to all the other words they don't know (weird, cellar, casual, tugged, ...). It was almost a joke as they would bring up a word and I'd have to say, "Ah, it's another abuse" (meaning a derogatory word) and try to translate it or act it out. Lots of fun.

Some other little projects are going, but that's good for now. It was wonderful seeing everyone I saw, although too short -- sorry to those I missed. Thank you so much to all those who have (or will) donate.

-Uganda Jones