There are 45 people in my training class (and we are all still here) from all over the US. Typically, PC volunteers are in their 20's but my group had six over 45 including me. We stayed with families during training which I found very painful and lonely. I had a wonderful host family but many years of running my own house made the adjustment challenging to say the least.
PC Uganda places volunteers in three sectors; community health (my assignment), economic development and education. It is PC's policy that a volunteer cannot take the place of a paid Ugandan therefore direct service is eliminated (except for secondary school teachers). PC works on sustainable development and building capacity among the nationals. Most community health and economic development volunteers create their own service projects and goals, the objective being that whatever is started has the capacity to continue and grow after the volunteer has gone.
I arrived at my site in late October and was thrilled to find my little house has both electricity and indoor running water. The water is frequently out as there are more people than the system can support so it is rationed (Uganda has the second largest population growth in the world). I store water in 20 liter jerry cans for those dry times, the longest lasting 10 days. I "harvest" rainwater when necessary and use it for drinking, cooking, and bathing. All water must be disinfected so I filter the rainwater and then purify it for drinking. I have no hot water other than what is warmed on my little gas stove and I have not yet grown fond of cold showers so I heat water and bathe from a basin.
My town in in the foothills of the beautiful Rwenzori Mountains and borders the Democratic Republic of Congo (we are forbidden to visit the Congo by PC). My house is only a few kilometers from the Equator and Queen Elizabeth National Park (more on the later).
I work at Bwera General Hospital in the Community Health Department. I spent two days a week in the HIV Clinic but most of my work involves development projects in the nearby villages as well as PC's first national leadership camp for boys.
Projects completed or in the works:
- Household budgeting
- Mud Stoves Managing Village Savings and Loan Challenges
- Life Skills Classes (for teens)
- Camp BUILD (leadership camp for boys)
- Village Pig Project (for households of orphan or persons living with AIDS)
- Peace Corps Sexual Harassment and Assault Committee
- Solar Lamp Training and Distribution
- Reusable Menstrual Pads