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Monday, November 7, 2011

The Book of Joe

Productivity is always a slow going process here in Uganda. This is especially true when you are dependent on other people to get work done. Unlucky for me, I have found that due to the nursing students being on break and the staff members dealing with final exams and grading said exams, I really have nothing to contribute at this point in time. Lucky for me, I am one of those people who doesn’t like to waste time doing nothing. Not only have I filled my days with reading and writing, along with the occasional Scrubs episode, but I have come up with a number of side projects (ok, two) which I have engaged myself in to pass the time.

The first side project is a youth newsletter. It is a newsletter made for youth by youth. Eliza Chard and Jacqueline Demko, two other PCVs, are working with me, spearheading this project. We are going to have this newsletter contain essays and articles written by youth across Uganda on different subjects, each newsletter will have a specific theme with questions for youth to answer. Other PCVs will serve as judges and those who have their essays published will receive a small (very small) prize. The first edition is going to have the theme of “I’m the Me I Want to Be” - Self-Esteem, Self-Reflection, and Personal Identity. The questions we came up with are:

1.) What is more important to you, being a member of your tribe or being a Ugandan citizen? Why?
2.) Is there a day in your life that you felt really proud of yourself? Tell us about it!
3.) Do you think that boys and girls have different experiences growing up? What are the different challenges that girls and boys face and how do you overcome them?
4.) If you were an animal what would you be and why?

The whole reason behind the idea of a newsletter came up after Eliza commented on the lack of creativity and ingenuity in Uganda’s youth. There seems to be a trend in the education system of rote memorization and repetition, rather than real thought and creativity. Even when responses are correct, it seems if they are not word for word what the lecturer or tutor has taught, they are marked incorrect. Through life skills classes, Jacqueline made the same observation. Of course, this was all discussed during my tech immersion, before I was a full-fledged volunteer and before I had really worked with youth. The next day I sat in on one of Jacqueline’s life skills classes and made the same observation. I was really happy that even though the idea of the newsletter was discussed during the wee hours of the night, it still morphed and developed into something real. An announcement was made in the latest PCV Uganda newsletter and it seems there are very positive responses from other PCVs. I know from my own training class I have heard numerous positive responses and have even gotten a few inquiries on ways to get involved. It’s great to have a sense of accomplishment, even for a brief second.

The second side project is more collaborative with Dorothy, a PCV in the Masaka area who is working with Afripads, a business selling washable, reusable menstrual pads. There is a huge issue of young women not attending school and missing out on education because of they cannot afford the disposable pads sold mainstream. These washable, reusable pads are an ideal solution because even if they cost more than the disposable pads at the corner store, they last for a full year. They are based on a Canadian product which lasts 5 years, but since the product in Africa is made with lower quality fabrics and since African women hand-wash everything, the pads wear out much faster. Either way, it is a great idea and I will be working with Dorothy along with my own supervisor to try and bring Afripads to the nursing school as well as to the local schools in Rakai. I know Leslie is interested in doing some work promoting Afripads, so I think we’ll be able to do some collaborative work at the secondary schools her organization is going to work with.

So, even though I don’t have much to do at the nursing school, I’ve been trying to get things started in order to keep myself at least a little busy. It’s always a roller coaster though, some days I find I barely have time to think and other days it’s as if the whole day went by and I never got out of bed. I guess you just have to take what you can get.


1 comment:

  1. These side projects sound amazing and will really make a difference to those who have the opportunity to come across them! Amazing!