The Road Ahead

16/5/15

The other day a fellow PCV asked me how I felt and I responded with “weary”.  She wanted me to clarify what I mean by weary. I told her that I felt used. As I’ve stated before, to be used in Uganda means to become acclimated to the normalcy of things here that may seem odd to a foreigner.

Working in a village computer lab and having to shove goats out of said lab: Used

Enduring 4 hour-long speeches by local leaders who don’t know what they’re saying: Used

Creatively Facilitating sessions about HIV, Malaria, Reusable Menstrual Pads, and Gardening: Used

In the larger scheme of things, I feel as if I am living in the middle of things. I have long-since bid farewell to who I used to be before Peace Corps, and I am slowly forgetting who I was during the beginning of my Peace Corps service. Right now I am very comfortable with whom I am and what I am doing with my service, but I am starting to worry about life afterwards. I hung out with one of my PC friends and her visiting mom with whom I shared that I was stressed about going back to the developed world of the United States. In response, she told me that the bustle of a city like New York didn’t even compare to the chaos and craziness of a city like Kampala. More and more I am starting to notice the photos and posts from my friends in their lives back in the United States and wondering if I will ever be able to enjoy the things that I once used to enjoy.

Maybe it’s the mefloquine, but I have been having recurring dreams about being back in the United States. I have had these dreams earlier in my service, but this time around the mood is different. Whereas the past dreams would be about missing my US home, these dreams are about missing my Ugandan home. In these dreams, I would imagine myself at a bar or bicycling with friends through Baltimore or Boston and then feel sad because I missed my village and my life here in Uganda. I am torn between wanting to be back home and move on to the next stage in my life, but also know that my time here is extremely valuable.

I feel used.

It hurts to realize just how no one will understand me. My friends and family back home will try to pick what I am saying, and my villagers here still try to acclimate to my personality. The only people whom I will bond with are the other PCV’s around the world. I don’t know if I would be able to bond that well with other NGO’s, volunteers, or even other Ugandans. I guess that it doesn’t help that even I don’t understand what I’m going through at a given moment.

Currently, I am almost done with my month and a half long extravaganza of travelling to different trainings, camps, and facilitation sessions. I think that I am running on empty and need to replenish myself with some much-needed personal time in the village. Now I just need to make the usual trek back home where I can plant my rosemary and strawberry plants, watch the new Game of Thrones episodes, cook a village Tikka Masala with rice, take some photos of the ICT Lab construction, plan the date for the community HIV testing event, and maybe play with the village children. Because for me, that feels normal.

Back to Normal

26/3/15 – 2/4/15

The day Alex left, I gathered my things from Fat Cat and headed over to Masindi to hang out with Rachel. I felt that I needed some downtime at a Peace Corps site before I was ready to start Rat Nest Babiesworking again at my own site. I spent a few days cooking and hanging out with Rachel in Masindi town. Then I returned back to my site on Palm Sunday, only to discover that the inside of my house was wrecked my mice. I swept away dust and the remnants of a mouse nest only to discover 6 rat babies in the corner of my bedroom. I gently picked them up with the disposable plastic gloves that my mom sent me last year, and then gently tossed them into the burning rubbish pit. As ugly cute as they were, they smelled of rat piss and were vectors for a host of diseases that would definitely kill me given enough time.

Throughout the course of the week, I felt very productive. I updated my Kindle with the list of books Rachel gave me as well as the Peace Corps Kenya Kiswahili manual so that I could start learning it. I also organized Alex’s books into the library, tested the Year 1 students in basic mathematical operations involving decimals, and identified who would be part of my team in the Central Youth Technical Training later this month. As I type these words on my blog, I feel as if life is getting back to normal from the craziness of the past month. My chores are done, my task lists are checked, and my personal deliverables are met. After every good adventure a denouement follows.