Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A series of fortunate events


Happy Halloween!

For Halloween last year, I was intending to go to Gulu town and celebrate the holiday appropriately with a bunch of inebriated, costumed Americans.  Like many things, it didn’t go as planned.  I waited for a mythical ride to town for hours, because I am a stubborn mundu who does not boda (motorcycle), and when it finally seemed like all was lost, I remained in my sriracha costume for a few hours and hopped around to music for a half hour before I fell asleep at 8:00 pm.  True life: I’m sort of a dork.  A lot of things are embarrassing in my life now.  At least for now.  But, I’m hoping that these embarrassing tendencies (like being in bed by 7:30) will evaporate once I hit the sweet soil of America. 

This year Halloween is looking a bit more promising.  No, I’m not going to meet the scores of inebriated Americans in my PC group in Jinja to celebrate appropriately, because that just ain’t my style these days.  Also, it requires like 10 hours of enduring Ugandan public transport.  Instead, I’m indulging in a series of fortunate events that have befallen me.  Firstly?  Both my friend Tom and I got packages in town yesterday, on old Hallows Eve.  The contents are nothing short of marvelous. Fake candy teeth! Zots! Pop rocks! Chocolate pumpkins!  Goodness!  In Tom’s box, we received legions of fancy tea, hand sani, and other such mysterious contents.  So on this fair day of Halloween, I have so far enjoyed fancy orange-chocolate tea, chocolate, and a high heart!  A fortunate event to receive packages indeed, for these last few weeks have been challenging for me. 

Besides these goodies, I have also done some strange things today.  I tried exercising to a super lame exercise video called “Insanity.”  If you know me, you know that this is absolutely something that I wouldn’t do in America.  Well, I’m not in America, am I? So yes, I moved my tables aside and sweated and struggled to a series of improbable and physically impossible exercises, all done seamlessly by host ‘Sean T.’  But, the end goal was achieved: of being sweaty and tired.  I have missed physical exercise and sports probably more than I have missed most other things my 1.5 years here.  It feels so nice to be sore and tired- even though I did all of the exercises obscenely wrong and with horrible form.  Things got pretty insane.  At one point, I looked over at Tom to see that he had completely given up on doing the specific exercise right, and was instead just flopping around like a jellyfish and smiling.  Then, I drank some red wine with a delicious spaghetti lunch.  Also, a strange thing.  The rest of the day will include more wine, curry, and a scary movie enjoyed while eating candy with good company.  I mean, it’s no state street in Madison, but it’s a good second.  I was supposed to go to work today, but because it’s been raining 98% of the time recently, I literally couldn’t walk on the roads-at least without serious risk to my rapidly diminishing dignity- and was told by several concerned community members to stay home.  I love that the weather here actually affects you. 

There have been some other unusual events occurring that seem worthwhile to explore.  Mind you—no Hurricane ‘Sandy’ or presidential election.  Apparently, around the border in my village, a teacher witnessed two grown men fighting over a grasshopper.  Violently.  This may seem even stranger than it’s intended to be, because since when do adults fight over grasshoppers?  Well, here, grasshoppers, along with ‘white ants’ are a valued food group.  And, now is grasshopper season.  The teacher watched for a few minutes, and then left the men still fighting to come to school.  So, on the eve of the jealous and surly Hurricane Sandy, this was my most valuable news.  Did I mention that I lack a certain quality of stimulation here sometimes?  I think that’s why people stare at me so much and are so fascinated when I sit outside and read; there is simply nothing else to do or talk about.  Gossip is golden.  Whenever ANYTHING vaguely interesting happens here; like news of a volunteer buying a fan, or a local goat getting into a fight with a dog, or a woman who may have turned into a serpent due to the treachery of a Sudanese witch doctor, it’s pretty much all I talk about for a week. 

Speaking of vaguely interesting, I got a haircut from the one person in West Nile who knows how to cut mundu-hair.  It turned out to be a reclusive Indian woman who stays in her apartment all day because she isn’t allowed to talk to other men due to her religion.  It all went well, until I came home and realized that she had cut my hair into a mullet.  Luckily, Tom handled that crisis by cutting off the offensive back-portion of my hair, and now I have really short hair again.  Then, I cut off Tom’s entire ponytail in a fit of boredom, and now his hair looks like a super trendy hipster hair cut, without me even trying. 

I have saved my favorite unusual event for last.  Yesterday when we went to town, we really struck gold.  It happened to be the exact day when the Arua police have either run out of money/are bored enough to bring the smackdown on all of the men and women who are illegally driving or operating un-registered or smuggled motorcycles.  And let me tell you, there are many.  Most people who have motorcycles smuggled them from Congo.  Most boda boda drivers are young men without licenses.  SO, on this particular day, the police set up a road-block in the middle of Aruatown and stopped/run down every motorcycle to check licenses and registration, and then impound or confiscate the motorcycles.  It’s really fun to watch because most drivers don’t see the roadblock until they are right by it, and then either a. slow down with a resigned look in their eyes due to the inevitable confiscation of their motorcycle and loss of income, or b. awesomely and casually abort their mission once it dawns to them what is happening…this usually results in a sudden 180 degree turn and slightly increased speed as they high-tail calmly it the other way.  I saw a father, mother and son on one motorcycle that turned around right before the roadblock, the dad grinning at his cunning. Or, c. as one brave soul did, upon realizing the immediate danger in their future, dodged the police by executing a series of daring and wild zig-zags and then hightailed it away with a cop running after him.  The funny thing is that police doesn’t even attempt a good chase; they just kind of shake their fists and wait for their next victim.  The best is the moment of realization that dawns on the faces of the motorcyclers when they drive right into the jaws of the lion: a real “Oh shit” moment.  Lorries of confiscated motorcycles make their way to the jail, others can be seen driven by the very same policeman who confiscated them.    Eventually, you notice the quiet, as most boda-boda drivers have now been alerted and the road is completely clear of motorcycles (which NEVER happens).  It becomes rather pleasant to cross the street, rather than the usual exercise in existentialism.  Anyway, it’s great entertainment, with everyone stopping amidst all of their errands and buying and selling to sit back, laugh, and watch the drama enfold.  

I'm sorry to say that this blog has been largely influenced by the single glass of wine that I have consumed over the last 6 months.   

And here's a SPOOKY and random photo of Athena eating a rat:


Love and Larks,
Ilse

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Autobiographies

As a culmination of my literacy classes with Primary 7 Students at two of my schools, we wrote autobiographies.  The week before we wrote them, I had my two friends from Arua town, Bosco and Benard, come to talk to the classes. They are both musicians based in Arua-town and are in a band called The Ghetto Boyz.  They are great rolemodels, having once been in the shoes of primary students in rural Arua as well, and only through their own creativity and 'stubbornness' reached where they are today as expressive artists.  They mostly talked about how important reading and writing were in their young lives, and how they continue to be major parts of their lives today.  How in order to become a musician and lyricist, you really need to be a skilled and experienced writer.  They addressed self-expression, creativity, studiousness, and many other attributes.  It was awesome for the students.  These cool musicians with dreadlocks came all the way out to their village school to see them and talk to them.  And, Bosco and Benard also really enjoyed it.  Anyway, they set the framework for the importance of writing really well.  On a side note, people with long hair or dreadlocks here are commonly known as "rastas" and are sometimes feared by people.  On their way out to my schools, Bosco and Benard got lost and stopped to ask some village mommas for directions.  Upon seeing these two young men with huge hair and guitars, the mommas shrieked and all ran away as fast as they could into the fields.

Anyway.  My students each wrote an autobiography or as I explained it, a story about themselves.  I wanted to share a few stories that I thought were exceptional or unique.

This is Norbert.  He is holding his story.


My Story
My name is Adiga Norbert.  I was born in Uganda in Arua, Adumi Parish in 2002.  I am now 12 years old.  In my family we are nine in number as children.  My mother's name is Driciru Martha.

i am an orphan.  My father died in 2007 when we were in holiday.  Thereafter I join primary 3, now I am in primary 7.  Our home is located in ARua district, Adumi sub-county, Aumi Parish, Lia village along Lia customs road.  There are two big trees, namely mangoes and avocadoes. 

In future, I want to be journalist.  I am looking forward to work hard to get employment with NGOs.  I grew in Lia trading centre.  My favorite subjects in school are science subjects and mathematics and English.  I am a Lugbara and Lugbara play the following activities:
-We play cultural song, cultural dancing, drummers, and we have some programs for cultural talkings.

I like cooking food and playing football and tenis ball, and running.
I am dreaming hard I will be a journalist.  
This is my dream.
I would be in studio of Arua 1 FM.  DJ ADIGA NORBERT.
I would be happy when the dream happens. 

Next, we have Maliko's story.  
 

Maliko's Story

My name is Maliko Judith.  I was born in 1999 by now I am 13 years old.  I am a Ugandan.  I love my family so much.  I love my brothers and sisters.  We are seven in my family.

When I was young I liked playing with dolls then when I reached 3 years I was taken to nursery school in Kampala.  I grew there then I reached in P4, after P4 I was brought back to ARua in Uganda in P5.  Then I completed my P5 to P6 by now I am in P7 in Endru Primary SChool.  My favorite subject is English. I like our flag of Uganda which is by colour: Black, Yellow, red.

In primary like playing netball and volley even sports like running.  

In my free time I just read books and write stories in about my life.  If I become an adult I want to help my father and my mother if I get money by my self.  I want to buy for them clothes and buy food for them.

In our culture we use to dance and sing traditional songs in our culture in our language which is call Lugbara.

My house in our home looks like this:

In my life I always dream about to read hard so that I become a nurse but to become a nurse you have to read and write hardily.  I  am good at running and playing netball.  If I finish my primary and primary to secondary and secondary to university then I want to join nurse training and become a nurse so that I will get my money in future to help my family and to pay school fees of my children and my sister's and brother's children.  
THIS IS MY STORY. 



Here are some more pictures of the students and their stories:









Thursday, October 11, 2012

Independence Day!!


           
            Yesterday was Uganda’s 50th year of independence.  Well, sort of.  I guess if you choose not to count the millennia before Britain came, when Ugandans were not called Ugandans and were just doing their own thang.  For thousands of years. 
            Tom and I put on an essay competition at his secondary school, mostly regarding this milestone of an event, and what students want to see out of their next 50 years of independence.  We only have three entries (which means everyone is a winner!!!), but our first place essay is below.  I chose this essay because it most closely resembled what an essay should be, instead of just listing ideas. 


Name: Arionzi Vincent, Senior 2, Adumi SS, Arua Uganda

            As a citizen of Uganda and as I have been staying in Uganda there are so many bad stories and good stories about Uganda, some of which I witnessed and others I was told by my elder friends, brothers, and some of which I learned in school.
            Uganda has got independence in the year 1962 under the leadership of president Kabaka Metasa II and by then Milton Obote was a prime minister of Uganda.  Since that time many changes have been witnessed by the people of Uganda and non citizens.  However these changes are both good and bad changes which varied according to the leaders who are running the country and are influenced place to place.
            It has now lasted for about 50 years ago since Independence of Uganda.  Many Ugandans have totally forgotten the war regimes that overshadowed the country like Uganda especially the wards during the first and second regimes of Milton Obote, so, after another 50 years cases of insecurity and wars will be history and Uganda’s motto that says “For God and my Country” will no longer remain on paper but practically enjoyed by Ugandans and will be witnessed by the people of neighboring countries.
            More so after this 50 years of independence, Uganda has also been known world over for so many developmentary features concerning health education systems, people’s rights, and others in that many schools have been created, hospitals have been built for people to struggle for their rights, some of which are free and there have been respect as regards to human rights compared to before that one associated by the leaders in past.
            Uganda as being my country, the following are what I hope to see in Uganda during the next 50 years of independence.  Before independence, wars of conquest, mob justice, women suppression, over taxation, corruption had been common practices among Ugandans and mostly played out by those past Ugandan leaders, more so brutality by armed men in highways have being almost everywhere in Uganda.  The suspect of brutality being the LRA rebels and led by joseph kony, the ADF rebels and Ugandan forces to who had caused threats everywhere, Uganda, and claiming peoples lives and during those regimes some tribes were also hostile with others, these tribes include Karamajong, Masai, and others.
            So many parts of Uganda were also unpassable due to natural barriers such as forest and water bodies which were left unbuilt and roads were narrowly constructed and some places were inaccessible due to poor roads and high ways robbers.
THE END


            Not bad, eh?  I like that it shows the good along with the bad, the positive development along with the wars.  It’s interesting being here for this anniversary; we are able to witness many different opinions about Uganda, its government, and future.  These last 50 years have been spent mostly in war, so I think that the greatest cause to celebrate for many is the current peace.  



            We went to the sub-county celebration in Etocaka, which are my old stomping grounds.  It’s always weird going back to where my first house was.  I’m so glad I don’t live there anymore.  Anyway, the celebration mostly consists of parade/marching.  All of the schools and organizations in the sub-county practice marching for weeks before Uhuru (Independence Day), and they call this “Scouting.”  I asked Dante (headteacher of Adumi SS) what the significance is of the marching, because it is a very unique tradition, and he told me that it symbolizes the joy and ceremony of the country taking actions into their own hands.  It is very formal, like many things here.  All of the military and big government officials stand at attention next to a flag and salute throughout the entire parade.  Then, school by school and organization by organization, the parade starts with the slow march.  I guess this is just the standard Ugandan military march, in all its slow dignity.  There is always one person leading their little battalion of marchers, and he directs them by yelling “EYESSSSSSSSS RIGHT!” when they pass in front of the crowd and they all follow his lead, and turn towards us in perfect synchronization.  Then, they march majestically past us.  It’s sort of unsettling to see children as commanders, especially as they are usually donning fake guns, sunglasses, stern expressions, and other military paraphernalia.  But, that is part of the history here.  



After everyone has followed the protocol, then there is the fast march, which is somehow more entertaining.  This time, they let their hair down a little, kick up their heels, and they can modify what they are doing.  It’s not as much about the uniformity, and people get really into it.  Schools are judged based on their “smartness” and their marching.  If their uniforms all look really nice, and if they march perfectly in step, then they are discussed later with much pride.  It’s really a thing of pride.  I was pretty happy because my two favorite organizations in Adumi did the best.  Golden Day Care- the nursery school that I visit a lot- were the “smartest” school; and they were wearing the alphabet hats that my grandparents sent last year! And then, my female adult literacy group was also very smart, in their new uniforms.  It was exciting to see them as an established organization, and now they are even starting up some income generating activities, like bead-making and sweater-making!  They don’t even need my help at all, which makes me feel like a good Peace Corps volunteer- because we aren’t supposed to be leading or running anything, we are supposed to facilitate, mentor, and act as resource people.  



           
            Highlights of independence day you ask?  I’m glad you asked, because as a whole, going to these celebrations is always rather stressful for us.  We are still a strange site for sore eyes (?) and gather a whole lot of unwanted attention.  Wherever we walk, we have to wait for a sea of children to part, because they are simply always orbiting around us like a thousand curious little planets.  All of the elders and village mummies and pretty much everyone else come to shake our hands.  We have to rub elbows with all of the big government officials and community leaders, who we frankly don’t feel worthy of sitting next to.  We get asked to pose for pictures with babies in our arms, and feel hundreds of tiny little hands brushing against out skin to see if it rubs off and turns them white.  But, I really could be describing any other day in my village with that.  What made it unique? Besides seeing my female literacy group and reconnecting with a lot of people in the community, I also enjoyed meeting probably the oldest man in Adumi.  As spry as a rabbit, this muzee (elder) donned a bonnet (why not?) and clocked in at 99 years old.  Twice the age of independent Uganda, this was a man who has lived through countless wars, in addition to fighting in the King’s African Rifles in World War II, and has seen the Lugbara transition from a very isolated tribe in the Congo that still practiced traditional  beliefs and wore bark and leaves, to a Catholic tribe in Uganda.  What makes this man so special, besides his age and wisdom, has to be the hats that he wears.  I have seen him in a furry leopard-print cowboy hat, a bonnet, and probably something else equally bizarre.  What also makes him special are his favorite words to say to me, “You! Mommma! Give me money!” The minute those words exited his 99-year old mouth, I remembered him as the man in the leopard-print hat who had accosted my mom at one of my primary schools with a similar request.  And, both interactions ended the same way: confusion, laughter, and then taking a picture of him.  He really wants a picture of himself.  So, mom, do you have that one of him from April?  Once you reach the status of village elder or muzee, it seems that you get to cash in a life-time weird hat license.  


            Speaking of photos, while we were waiting for Father Lino to pick us in his vehicle, Tom and I got asked by a hundred people to take their pictures, and we were happy to oblige.  Many people here don’t have mirrors and have never gotten a picture taken of themselves, so I think it’s the least we can do.  We will have a lot of distributing to do later on, but for now it was fun to show them their image on the camera.  I love the pictures, mostly of mommas, because they show the beauty of Adumi village.  







            After we had left Etocaka, we knew were in for the second phase of our journey.  It is well known that Father Lino is a very moderate man, except for a few key dates over the course of a year.  These few dates shall be hereafter known as the days when father lino drinks tom and ilse under a table.  We knew it was coming.  We were invited to have dinner at the parish to celebrate, and so we went, even though being outside and moving after 6:30 pm always feels foreign and dangerous.  Father broke out the bag of Primus Beer while we were watching the news (! First time in 2 years!), and after a really depressing half-hour where I had a traumatic crash course in modern-day history, we went to eat dinner.  A feast for kings!  No, really, it was.  We eat beans and Enya Sa (cassava bread) for every meal at the secondary school, and independence day is a day for splurging, so we had irish potatoes, creamed greens, cow peas, pasta, cabbage salad, and a huge assortment of meats.  During and after dinner, Father kept on pouring us more and more primus.  I was getting alarmed, because I really don’t drink here, and have not had more than 1 beer in succession for months.  Well, it all turned out well, because I just poured my beer in Tom’s glass.  The real treat of the evening was the conversation.  We were accompanied by the resident seminarian at the mission, named Joel, who had just finished a course in philosophy and astrology.  That became very relevant to our conversation, as we discussed religious beliefs, evolution, Uganda, political philosophy, etc.  At one point, Joel turned very somber and morose, and explained to us that he was very disturbed from his recent course in astrology.  The fact that the earth is so small in relation to the universe, and the very existence of black holes was confusing and depressing him.  “Also,” he said, “There exists a type of non-planet mass that moves through the solar system not respecting the orbits and can possibly crash into the earth, destroying it.”  Father LIno looked over to him, over his glass of beer, “And that is worrying you?  What do they suggest we do?  Stop drinking beer?”  After a few moments of hysteria, in a brief calm, Joel shook his head.  “No, I think it is better if we continue to drink beer.”  

And with those words, here are some more moments from Independence Day:






 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Goal 3


2/3 of my purpose of living in Uganda for two years is to be a cultural ambassador.  Yes, I’m also here to get sweaty trying to teach kids in crowded classrooms and lead the occasional workshop, and “develop”, and these things I DO get sweaty trying to do, but the real value of my stay is the cross-cultural exchange that my presence facilitates.  And yes, I’m a very sweaty cultural ambassador. 

Goal 2 and 3 of the Peace Corps mission is to impart knowledge about both countries/cultures/peoples:
  ·  Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served AND
 ·  Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Because it is the Eve of Uganda’s 50th year of Independence, I have decided to focus on Goal 3 especially over the following 2 weeks.  What does that mean?  It means I want to amp up my blogging and really focus on giving all of you a good idea of Uganda, its people, and culture.  I can sit here and tell you stories about epic smuggling adventures that I unwillingly took part it…well, actually that would be pretty funny.  But, right now, I’m going to put on my “serious” hat.  Tomorrow I’ll be dressing up and going to the sub-county celebration for Independence, in which I shall take hundreds of pictures to share with you.  But mostly, for the next few weeks, I want my blog to focus on real written pieces by Ugandans; essays, autobiographies, stories, etc.  Today, I am going to share a written history of my sub-county and current home, so that you can see its story arc these past 50 years.  This history was written by the priests in the parish.


History of Adumi

Adumi parish is located in NorthWest of Uganda, Arua District, and Arua Diocese.  It was established by the Coboni Missionaries in 1965 and handed over to the local clergy in 1974.  On the West it is bordered by Democratic Republic of Congo.  From the town it is 12 km away on Arua-Ariwara road via Onduparaka. 

From 1979 up to 1990s the region suffered much from wars fought within.  Beginning with the liberation wars to overthrow Idi Admin in 1979 which ended in West Nile (the home district of Idi Admin), then the civil wars organized by the remnant soldiers of Admin in 1980s. 

The battle field was in Odromacaku three kilometers from Adumi Parish.  During the wars women were abused, lived and properties were lost, and people were sent to exile in Congo and Sudan.  Children were recruited into the army leaving behind elderly people and the young.  From the exile people returned in 1990s.  Again there was the suffering of LRA war in Acholi Region and West Nile region, children and people were abducted and butchered, and people from West Nile were cut off from the rest of the country, and any attempt to cross to go and bring items from Kampala, they would burn the buses, abduct, and kill them.  The wars have effect on the people, the region and economy up to now.  Despite all this the people are vibrant.  The people living here are the Lugbara people.  Their culture is characterized by communal digging using rudimentary tools, communal celebration of funerals, polygamous marriages, extended families, widow inheritance, etc.  They relate well among themselves and cross the borders with their tribes mates.  The livelihood of the people depends on agriculture mostly.  They grow crops like gnuts, cassava, millet, simsim, etc which are affected by bad weather and very few of them keep animals which are kept for bride wealth and very few do petty business.  The average annual per capita is equivalent of 240 dollars.  Politically, there is relative peace.  Other challenges of this region are: Diseases like HIV/AIDS, Malaria, typhoid, hypertities, poverty (80%), illiteracy (60%), and domestic violence, drug abuse, witchcraft, extended families, safe water for drinking, etc.  Since the return from the exile in 1990s, the efforts of the government, and NGOS have been towards rehabilitating and building infrastructures like schools, health centers, roads, and a bit of economic empowerment through the northern region reconstruction program.  However, these resources have been not properly used by the people. 



(as a side note, our internet out in the village has recently been downgraded, probably because the Airtel providers found out we are the only people who use mobile internet within the entire sub-county. I knew it was too good to be true. So, it will be a Christmas miracle if I’m even able to post this)

Goal 3


2/3 of my purpose of living in Uganda for two years is to be a cultural ambassador.  Yes, I’m also here to get sweaty trying to teach kids in crowded classrooms and lead the occasional workshop, and “develop”, and these things I DO get sweaty trying to do, but the real value of my stay is the cross-cultural exchange that my presence facilitates.  And yes, I’m a very sweaty cultural ambassador. 

Goal 2 and 3 of the Peace Corps mission is to impart knowledge about both countries/cultures/peoples:
  ·  Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served AND
 ·  Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Because it is the Eve of Uganda’s 50th year of Independence, I have decided to focus on Goal 3 especially over the following 2 weeks.  What does that mean?  It means I want to amp up my blogging and really focus on giving all of you a good idea of Uganda, its people, and culture.  I can sit here and tell you stories about epic smuggling adventures that I unwillingly took part it…well, actually that would be pretty funny.  But, right now, I’m going to put on my “serious” hat.  Tomorrow I’ll be dressing up and going to the sub-county celebration for Independence, in which I shall take hundreds of pictures to share with you.  But mostly, for the next few weeks, I want my blog to focus on real written pieces by Ugandans; essays, autobiographies, stories, etc.  Today, I am going to share a written history of my sub-county and current home, so that you can see its story arc these past 50 years.  This history was written by the priests in the parish.


History of Adumi

Adumi parish is located in NorthWest of Uganda, Arua District, and Arua Diocese.  It was established by the Coboni Missionaries in 1965 and handed over to the local clergy in 1974.  On the West it is bordered by Democratic Republic of Congo.  From the town it is 12 km away on Arua-Ariwara road via Onduparaka. 

From 1979 up to 1990s the region suffered much from wars fought within.  Beginning with the liberation wars to overthrow Idi Admin in 1979 which ended in West Nile (the home district of Idi Admin), then the civil wars organized by the remnant soldiers of Admin in 1980s. 

The battle field was in Odromacaku three kilometers from Adumi Parish.  During the wars women were abused, lived and properties were lost, and people were sent to exile in Congo and Sudan.  Children were recruited into the army leaving behind elderly people and the young.  From the exile people returned in 1990s.  Again there was the suffering of LRA war in Acholi Region and West Nile region, children and people were abducted and butchered, and people from West Nile were cut off from the rest of the country, and any attempt to cross to go and bring items from Kampala, they would burn the buses, abduct, and kill them.  The wars have effect on the people, the region and economy up to now.  Despite all this the people are vibrant.  The people living here are the Lugbara people.  Their culture is characterized by communal digging using rudimentary tools, communal celebration of funerals, polygamous marriages, extended families, widow inheritance, etc.  They relate well among themselves and cross the borders with their tribes mates.  The livelihood of the people depends on agriculture mostly.  They grow crops like gnuts, cassava, millet, simsim, etc which are affected by bad weather and very few of them keep animals which are kept for bride wealth and very few do petty business.  The average annual per capita is equivalent of 240 dollars.  Politically, there is relative peace.  Other challenges of this region are: Diseases like HIV/AIDS, Malaria, typhoid, hypertities, poverty (80%), illiteracy (60%), and domestic violence, drug abuse, witchcraft, extended families, safe water for drinking, etc.  Since the return from the exile in 1990s, the efforts of the government, and NGOS have been towards rehabilitating and building infrastructures like schools, health centers, roads, and a bit of economic empowerment through the northern region reconstruction program.  However, these resources have been not properly used by the people. 



(as a side note, our internet out in the village has recently been downgraded, probably because the Airtel providers found out we are the only people who use mobile internet within the entire sub-county. I knew it was too good to be true. So, it will be a Christmas miracle if I’m even able to post this)