The rainy season is officially in full swing here in Kampala, and I have a feeling it is a bit different than the rainy season we were supposedly starting to experience in Tanzania. We have finally learned to wear our runners to work instead of sandals, but even the ol’ Nike’s can’t keep me out of the five inches of mud that is our road to the workplace. It rains almost every day, though not all day, but the grand finale thunderstorm in the evening is to be expected.
Other than that, things are going pretty smoothly in capital city #2. As mentioned before, I am working with Uganda Youth Development Link, an NGO started in 1994 that focuses on the rehabilitation and replacement of youth on the streets. It is quite interesting, and we have had a number of different experiences thus far. I am working with two particular outreach centres in Kampala, but have also attended community meetings held by UYDEL, which focus on different topics such as child trafficking and the prevention of such.
Last Sunday, we were invited to the graduation party of one of the girls working with UYDEL. It was such fun! We arrived late afternoon to chairs set up under small tents, and country music blasting over speakers. I may have been the only one to know all of the words of all of the songs, but people seemed to like it nonetheless...it was hilarious.
Lots and LOTS of speeches were made about our friend, Janette, and her sister whom was also graduating, and even though we didn’t understand a word of them, we were made to feel most welcome by each person translating their own speech into as much English as possible. Just in case no one had noticed us before, the direct translations accompanied by obvious eye contact with the three of us definitely put us on the map...also hilarious. In all seriousness, we really were so appreciative for everyone including us.
After speeches, we presented the graduates with their gifts, had cake..before dinner..then ate a delicious traditional meal. Then came the dancing. These. People. Can. Dance. Men, women, teenagers, children—you name it—they were all shakin’ it. We tried to avoid the dancing, but you better believe our friend Eunice was having no part in that. Before long we were cramping the style of every person at the party. By this point the country music was long gone and replaced by traditional tunes...so I couldn’t even hang on to the occasional line dance. Cha cha slide was a no-go, as was the cupid shuffle, and before long only the kids would be seen with us.
Monday at work the UYDEL director, Rogers, told us he wished he could have another party just so we would have to dance again. Perfect.
The rest of the week brought more community meetings and time with the youth at our centres, and Saturday we visited our friend Denis’ centre. He started a club for HIV/Aids post-testers about 6 years ago, and they meet every weekend. It was so much fun, and the kids there were quite clever! Friday we went with the drama group of one of the centres, called Masoli, to a slum area where they did a drama and dance performance relating to child trafficking and HIV awareness. It was brilliant!
Not much else is happening in Kampala, so I will leave you now with a few photos of the UYDEL centres, the graduation par—oh! Haha one more thing...We were at an office of UYDEL in a slum called Kilarwe, and kids flocked the door the second they saw muzungus. We ended up playing with them for a good hour, and by the end of it, I am pretty sure we had lost all respect of the adults watching. I suppose that the banana song, follow the leader, and put-your-hands-on-your-face-and-scream-as-loud-as-you-can-while-running-away-from-the-muzungu-then-chasing-the-muzungu-in-the-other-direction...have that effect on people...