The Only Mzungo in Running Shorts

by Amizade Global Service-Learning

from Paul…

Sorry for the delay in this most recent post, however, recent events including no power and no internet have prevented us from posting. A handful of you know that I sprained my ankle on Wednesday conveniently across the street from the local hospital. It happened at mile 7 on a 10 mile run. I was heading back to the Mavuno compound when I lost my footing on the side of the road and went down feeling my ankle role under me. It caught me by surprise and I was shocked at first but reality kicked in when my ankle swelled before my eyes as I winced in pain. It was very painful and quite the spectacle as you can imagine. Not only am I the only Mzungu running around in just shorts and sunglasses but I’m the only one that is sitting in the ER; which was quite the experience I must say.

After a week of running and getting acquainted with my surroundings I am now hopping around on one foot and being a big pain in the butt for Caitlin. Earlier today I had an x-ray taken which showed no break or dislocation, thank GOD!!!! I still have swelling and discoloration but it has improved over the past 48 hours. The Doctor said to stay off of it until I’m pain free. I’m taking anti-inflammatory and some pain killers so hopefully I’ll be walking sooner than later. Despite being frustrated about the situation, I quickly realized how minor my injury was when I saw some of the other patients in the waiting room and in the ward. It’s amazing how much I take my health for granted and this speed bump on our journey is just another lesson from which to learn from.

One lesson I was never taught was how to take a cold shower in a bathroom w/o handicapped accessibility… This is much more difficult than you’d think. Caitlin and I have met with just about everyone we need to see prior to the student’s arrival next week. We are excited for their arrival and anticipate the feeling is mutual. We will have to travel to Entebe/Kampala (the capitol of Uganda) where the students are scheduled to land. We will probably leave on Monday and stay in Kampala for a few days, and once they land we will allow a few days before we journey back to Karagwe.

We have been staying at The Mavuno Project compound for 12 days now and have become used to the amenities, pit latrines, cold showers, three square meals prepared by Mama Kennedy, and the occasional howling at 2:30 a.m. from the local dogs. Staying at the Mavuno compound with us are three individuals. Two are from Germany, and the other is from South Africa. It has been nice to interact with other visitors on a regular basis and to share stories and experiences that cover three continents. Their time here is short but their work is very important. All three individuals are in some fashion working with Mavuno on the Water tank projects. They have been sent by the specific organization to follow up on the progress and planning of future water tanks. Amizade the organization that Caitlin and I are working for has donated funds to the water tank projects in the past and we were able to see the tank they helped fund. The purpose for the water tanks is to supply clean drinking water to local schools, and communities. We were fortunate enough to travel to the site of an all-girls boarding school that is under construction. The school will have several water tanks on site. We were also able to watch the construction of part of a water tank and see how the system works. Without any construction vehicles or power tools, the workers use picks and shovels to dig a hole that is approximately 15-20 feet deep and 10-12 feet in diameter. The tank will be constructed with rock and cement; the cement is mixed by hand and used to plaster the rocks into a seamless wall. The project is quite the undertaking and a lack of supplies and resources that are readily available prolongs the completion of the projects. The importance of the water tank projects is significant as we would see first-hand just 1 hour later. We drove to a very remote location where rain water had collected on the side of a hill. Here we saw two people collecting stagnant water from a pond of rainwater that looked dirtier than the Hudson River. It was off-putting that people collect and use this water, and sometimes walk several miles to do so. We realized the significance of these water tanks, and hope to contribute to Amizade’s mission of providing clean water.

Until next time, Kwa herini!