10 days into life in Butagaya and it is already beginning to feel like our Ugandan home. I have had so many wonderful experiences of village life already, and of course a few challenges along the way too but I will try and just give you a snapshot of life and work in Jinja District. For the most part of this month, our work is focused around conducting a 'baseline survey' with meetings and introductions and us gathering information that can inform our work over the next 6 months. From meeting flamboyant political leaders like the local council chief and other councillors, to meeting Primary and Secondary School teachers and health centre staff, we are slowly by slowly getting to know the community - and especially their attitudes towards young people and what we can do to help them. For me, a highlight has definitely been meeting with some out of school youth groups who are so eager to start up some income generation projects but are just desperate for the skills and knowledge through which to do it that they approached us and said they really need our help! Sandra and Susanes who are heading up the 'livelihoods' pathway of our work are going to work with them around entrepreneurship and savings so that they can begin poultry keeping. And in terms of SRH (Sexual and Reproductive Health) starting our introductory sessions in schools has been great - trying to introduce a new way of learning with lots of activities and fun games is really encouraging, especially when you see lots of smiling faces looking back at you - hopefully they are understanding our message too!! The next few weeks will see us finishing our baseline activities and consolidating a regular timetable for sessions and meetings as well as additional events to bring the community together like sports events, gender dialogues and voluntary HIV counselling and testing.
In terms of home life I am absolutely loving it!! Sometimes things can take you somehow by surprise, like the bat that paid a visit to our living room the other night, but the way of life is keeping me busy and enabling me to rise to the challenge!! One of my favourite daily activities has become going to fetch water in the evening - I have now worked up to being able to carry two 10 litre jerry cans for about 15 minutes up a hill! But after a tough or frustrating day, it can be a great way to actually relax a bit and meet some of the community at the well! And it also reminds me that, whilst this is most definitely a reality for me for the next months, this is a constant and daily reality for my neighbours - and yet they are so happy and welcoming and even becoming my friends!!!
In terms of successes and challenges (and prayer points!); thanks for my wonderful team mates and the fact that we have found a natural rhythm in terms of living together and doing chores as well as thanks for the community and the fact that I am slowly settling in. The one prayer request/challenge that I'm facing is adjusting to the work pace here in Uganda! Although I was totally aware of it before, it has I suppose highlighted to me my own characteristic of always wanting to be busy!! So please pray for a sense of motivation and energy within my team that we will get all the work done we need to complete, as well as for me to be patient and adjust to life.
One final thank you to all of you who have been praying and thinking of me - I really feel God's love guiding me here as He has blessed me with great friends (both home and away) as well as keeping me safe and healthy! So until next time, when you are putting on your wellies to go out in the snow I hear you have been having, think of me under the heat of the African sun to bring you some warmth :)