Friday, March 16, 2012

International Women's Day

For International's day, I put on an event at the secondary school with the help of LaToya, Lauren, Agnese, and Tom. It went well! We came, we saw, we made an unholy amount of reusable menstrual pads. In addition to the menstrual pads session (which to me, was the most important), we also did a Life skills session on gender roles, and presented on female sexual health and anatomy. After the girls had all created their pads, we broke out into different stations. In the first station, with the help of Agnese, the girls created a banner that read "Girls Can Do Anything!" and each girl painted their name and what they wanted to be. In the second station, girls learned a brief introduction to yoga and stretching, led by Lauren. In the third, La Toya led a session on team-building, where the girls did activities such as 'the human knot'.

My friends were awesome for helping out with the event. And, not least, for coming over the day before to help me cut out enough materials for 100 reusable menstrual pads. Holy women, that was a marathon day. I think we all lost a little of ourselves that day, over measuring, and cutting biblical proportions of thread, towels, and fabric.

Nothing ever goes completely as I expect it will here, but all things considered, this was a success. Perhaps I'll do it again next year. At the beginning of the day, the girls performed for us the most beautiful songs about girls and education; their usual quiet restrained voices outpouring into a veritable river of noise, togetherness, and determination. Wow. That's what I love to see, the moment that they lose their restraint and shyness and let out their power and confidence. I choose to remember that part of the day, rather than the part where some girl made off like a bandit with like 10 extra towels, so that some of her fellow students didn't end up having enough to make their own pads.

For your entertainment, I'd like to post a section of the Peace Corps Newsletter that I am editing. This particular section is modeled off of "The Onion," an old love of mine. This first issue I wrote mostly myself, although my friend Kirk contributed the piece about the child surviving encounter with westerner in silence. I hope it's funny. That's what I'm going for.

The Matooke
It’s true by the way!

International News Headlines

National tuba-stealing epidemic in America hits its third month; the bitter brass war waged along the border.
This spring in southern California, high school band concerts are striking an uneasy chord within communities, as the dearth of tubas becomes more and more apparent. “My child is now playing the tambourine in the school marching band,” Laura Shepard, mother to Daniel Shepard (10th grade) at True Lakes High School in Los Angeles, confesses. “His tuba was stolen last month. The same tuba he has been playing since 4th grade. Tell me, what kind of justice still exists in this world? I thought this was a good neighborhood. The goddamn tambourine.” Since the crimes started several months ago, in which over 1000 tuba brass instruments have been untimely stolen from schools and homes as a result of the new popular tuba-driven Latino music “banda”, school administration and parents have started to take serious measures against this scourge. At True Lakes High School, principal Henrietta Dring has recently hired a local man to guard all of the instruments overnight, although she does admit that the thieves appear remarkably indifferent to trombones, clarinets, and all other instruments. “We have had to form a committee in the school, especially seeing as we have only one tuba remaining. The tuba provides such a unique sound and emotion to a band. Try picturing any major hit without the tuba in it. Just go ahead and try.” In some schools, band teachers have had to resort to asking the fat kid in each class to provide tuba-like noises at appropriate times during songs. These are only several of the solutions that local schools have had to resort to in this difficult time. As America holds her breath, we can all only hope that this new ‘banda’ craze does not come at the expense of high school and independent tax-paying tuba-players. Marching band instructor at Falcon Heights High School, Jerry Kracken, has started to recommend that all his students and colleagues get their horns insured. “I no longer risk leaving my tuba in my car. These banda bandits will do anything to get another nice sousaphone on the black tuba market. They have no remorse.” Upon being asked about the integrity of ‘banda’ music, in which the tuba features prominently, Jerry has no comment. Serious confusion regarding exactly how these tuba bandits manage to so easily steal a 30 pound brass instrument the size of an adolescent walrus continues to dampen the national spirit.

National News Headlines

American ‘sexually harassed’ by local gorilla in SW Uganda
American tourist, Sharon Foster, has recently filed a complaint with the Ugandan National Parks Department, after her regrettable experience Gorilla Trekking in Southwestern Uganda. Sharon, a 20 year old university student, recently traveled to Uganda because she wanted to “see gorillas and drink beer, because there’s no drinking age in Africa, right?” Her parents, both lawyers in Pennsylvania, have no comment on their daughter’s statement. During her Gorilla Trekking, Sharon was “inappropriately touched” by an adult male gorilla at 11:39 am. It is still unknown whether Sharon did anything to incite this gorilla, and efforts are being made to ascertain whether her trekking guide’s statement that Sharon “verbally degraded and physically provoked the adult male with distasteful language and lewd body movements,” has any truth to it. Local primatologist based in SW Uganda, Deena Okumba, has Sharon’s entire University, University of Minnesota, in uproar, after her comment that “This American tourist surely could not have provoked any sort of sexual response in Moses (gorilla). She is simply not his type.” Sharon, regardless of her culpability, will have readily available counseling and support upon her return to the states. Moses, the accused gorilla, is also receiving immediate and emergency support from the team of primatologists led by Okumba.

In our Local News:

Local Child Survives contact with westerner in total silence

In what can only be described as a real-life miracle, a child from Lira district survived a harrowing encounter with a flesh-and-blood foreigner while maintaining complete silence. As the local community struggles to cope with such a singular event, we managed to speak to with Okello James: the young boy at the center of this phenomenon. According to Okello (who by all accounts is your average, brown-haired, brown-eyed, all-Ugandan boy), this was a triumph of sheer will. “For me, I was excited. This man, he walks the same way every morning. And I always yell at him.” But that day, something was different. For, it seems, Okello had an epiphany at that moment, which would change the way he – and indeed the country as a whole – interacts with the outside world. “You know, every fibre of my being wanted to yell at him. It’s what we know – how we were raised. You see something different, and you scream at it. But for once, something made me stop. Maybe it was God, I don’t know. But I thought: Why am I screaming? What am I screaming? Is my screaming really making the world a better place?” And when he couldn’t answer these questions, the contemplative boy then did something that he’d never done before – he remained silent. “At first it felt like my head was going to explode if I didn’t scream something. But after that it got easier. My friends ran over to see if I was OK; some even said I had gone crazy. My parents took me to the hospital as soon as they found out about it a week later.” Doctors were unable to fund anything unusual, and so prescribed the boy a regiment of Ciprofloxacin. As word of this remarkable occurrence spread, people from all walks of life have begun to reevaluate the way they react to foreigners. Even as high up as Uganda’s International Relations Secretary, change is being seen, “I must admit, hearing this child’s story has me rethinking the way we work here. As far back as I can remember, screaming when we see foreigners has been a matter of policy. Maybe it’s time we change that.”

Local area goat accurately predicts future storm and then rather than being thanked, remains tied to a tree for the entire duration.

Local area volunteer forgets to move a vote of thanks for chairperson at weekend workshop.

Local area beans at secondary school prove to be too salty. “These people are not serious!” exclaims the head teacher, in reference to the school cooks.

We want YOU to submit to the Matooke!
Whether it be extraordinary or ordinary news, we want to hear it from you!
Please send your questions, articles, and submissions to Thank you please. I observe the protocol. Without wasting time, I would like to formally end this issue of The Matooke with a vote of thanks for our chairperson, and a prayer.

Okay, that's all I've got. Enjoy the pictures at the start of this post! They are mostly of International Women's Day, and of Lauren's wonderful visit here to Uganda.

Love and Lemons,