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Published: April 29th 2007
I am entering my last week with MACRO! Strange stuff. Completely ready for this conclusion though. I plan to spend this week at home and go to the MACRO office during the day. I have a week and a half before Jillian comes to travel with me. I am going to use this time to get my homework finished so that when I get back to the States, I can focus on just re-emerging myself into American culture. I know myself too well to leave a billion papers weighing heavily on my back. I thought I had become a bit of a procrastinator in my old age, but apparently I am back to my old ways of getting home from school and doing my homework immediately. I think its my Dad's fault. Thanks dad...
I had my first "last" this past week. First, Last, Past, eh? I am a rhyming machine. I concluded my last village visit in Chytale. Chytale was the second village I did a camp in, back in March. It was interesting to return to a place that I had stayed when I was struggling to figure out what was going on internally with
myself. This was a completely different experience. Joanna and I had a troop of children ready to play at all times. I fell in love with two of these children and I want to pack them in my bag and sneak them into Vermont. Alas, I don't think that would fly with customs.
For some reason, Chytale was like a petting zoo. I played with puppies and baby goats. I visited pigs and laughed hysterically when a cow poked another cow in the butt with its horns. I had a chicken hop into my lap and settle down for a nap. Maybe I should re-consider my decision to not work towards the Vet/Singer career I so badly wanted as a child.
I was able to attend a town meeting held in the school house that is run by MACRO. It was one of the most interesting, thought provoking experiences I have had in Uganda. It was all in Luganda, so my friend and fellow counselor, Justine had to translate. They were discussing whether or not lunch should be served at school. It was unanimous that they should begin cooking one cup of porridge (flour and water) for the
If I could bring someone home, it would be her.
students starting in the next term. The next step was figuring out a price. This went from a calm discussion to a heated debate. Should it be 2,000 USH, (1.00 US Dollar) Or 3,000, per student per term? This is including the payment for the cook and the charcoal for the fire. $1.00 for three months worth of lunch? I was instantly faced with a huge surge of emotion. I throw that kind of money around all the time! How is this problem even a possibility? At first, I got angry at the villagers but soon realized that was not the place to lay blame. These people were not being stingy. Of course they wanted their children to be able to eat lunch everyday. The problem was, that 1.00 dollar for the next three months could decide whether or not this family survives. They eventually decided that 2,400 for the first term would work (this includes the purchase of the big pot) then it would drop down to 2,000 in the second term. Some people still grumbled at that price and Justine voiced to me that many wouldn't ever pay the man who was fronting the money.
that discussion it was suggested that the foreign volunteers should buy the pot for them. They had paid for stuff in the past why couldn't they be convinced to buy it this time? I was suddenly on the fence over whether or not I should step forward and offer to purchase it for them. My first instinct said no. Then I felt guilty. For God sakes, it was only $15.00. I sat for a few hours pondering this and eventually came up with why my first instinct was no. Poverty has a strong grip on most of this planet. Volunteers flock to these countries to spend a few days living amongst the less fortunate. They shell out cash and leave a huge footprint and the illusion of wealth behind. The locals then become completely reliant on the handouts thrown at them. Where does that leave them? For a brief minute the pain of poverty is alleviated but the change has to come on a much larger scale. If I buy this pot, who will stand up and take action for these children? No one will. It has to happen on a larger scale. So do I sit back and wait
for someone to take action? What can I do?
I feel that as a human being, it is my duty to share what I have been given. This could mean money; but can't it also mean knowledge and joy? I then progressed to what the next step would be. How do I initiate change? I came back to the problem solver of champions: Education. Without it, the youth will lack the knowledge to stand up for themselves. The cycle of poverty will continue and I want to stand up against it. I would never suggest the "American" solution of pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and being successful through hard work. These people work harder then I ever have in my entire life, just to get by for one day. I need to focus on supporting the projects that empower the youth to educate themselves. This is where the answer lies. But wait, isn't this pot going to cook food for these children so they can have the nourishment (if you can call it that) to carry them through their studies? I still don't know what the solution is, but I feel like I made the right decision this
time by not purchasing the pot for them. "It's confusing plus," as the folks at MACRO would say!
I myself, have been recognizing how important the role my own education has been. Currently, I am doing the research for my Ethnology project. I have decided to explore what the word "home" means in Uganda. I have been conducting interviews and reading local books on the subject. I need to start writing the huge paper that goes with the presentation, this week. Argggg!
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