First off I’d like to say that all of us here in Uganda are safe! As I’m sure you’ve heard, there were two bombings in the capital city, Kampala, right after the World Cup Final. It is a real tragedy and very shocking to hear about. I have never once felt unsafe while here in Uganda, even with the recent bombing. Out here in the village, I have honestly heard very few details about the bombings except what I’ve learned by word of mouth. It is interesting to see how the news spreads out here, when most people don’t have television or really even read the newspaper. It is a shame to hear about such an event in such a beautiful place, but it goes to show Uganda still may not be as stable as it appears. Our thoughts and prayers are with Uganda and the families of the victims.

On a lighter note, our time here in Masaka is quickly coming to an end! It’s hard to believe our 8 weeks here are just about finished. While I am looking forward to returning to the conveniences of everyday American life, I will miss the way of life here, which has been so great to be a part of these past two months. I keep a personal journal of my time here, and I looked back on my thoughts I wrote on my 10th day in the country. I had just moved in with my host family, and was overwhelmed, confused, and anxious about what the coming weeks had in store. Now with only 10 days left, I am sad to leave my home away from home. My host family and the community in Kayannamukaaka have taken such great care of me and have been nothing but welcoming. These are truly some of the most hospitable people I’ve met, and it’s been a pleasure living and working with them.

This past week I completed the three rainwater collection tanks that I have been working on for my project. It was a definite learning experience, to say the least. The most challenging parts were the language barrier, which made everyday…interesting…, waiting for materials to be made, and dealing with the Ugandan work ethic. For example, we were supposed to have a carpenter named Kalungi install gutters on the three houses for us. We originally chose Friday to do this, but he informed us Thursday that he did not really feel like working on Friday. Getting a clear explanation as to exactly why he did not want to work was difficult, and ultimately I never learned why he did not want to work. We scrapped the day and said, “Ok, let’s do it on Monday.” Monday morning came and he called us saying we had inconvenienced him, and he was not going to put up our gutters, not today, not tomorrow, never. Left, again, with no real explanation, I had to now leave it up to my other crew of 4 men from a neighboring village to install the gutters. They ended up being able to put them up for all three houses on Monday, as well as finishing up the other work needed on the tanks. It was very relieving to finally be finished! The tanks came out great, and the members we built them for were ecstatic that they now had fewer trips to the far away wells. Despite all of the frustration, working with the community to build these tanks was incredible. The four men who constructed the tanks were great to work with, and we were able to trade stories of our lives on different continents. The families who received the tanks were so thankful, and always had a feast prepared for lunch. One day, when Jake was helping me as well, we even had the honor of eating the special piece of chicken, which translates into English as “the piece for the big man,” which translates further into “chicken liver.” Yum. Uganda is a beautiful country filled with beautiful people, and I hope to be back very soon. Peace,
Mike Lahoda

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