The tone for the fourth week was set with the celebration of Team B’s first week on the job and our approaching homestays. Monday was mellow. We split into four groups and visited family homes in Aber to talk to them about a new sanitary by-law that requires all families to have a pit latrine and cover, a rubbish pit, a separate section for animals, huts for the parents, children, and guests. Clothes hanging line, pot and at least two cups for water, dish drying rack, and a tippy tap with soap. All the families groups we visited met most requirements because they were informed about our inspections in advance. The homes were lovely though. After doing this until lunch we went home for a Chef Agnes lunch of chapatti, sausage, avocado, and peppers wrap with fresh tangerine juice. Then our team prepared for homestays. Elle and Sydni are placed in Adigo at the goat business. Ziad and Jared are at the Omolo construction site, and Yang, Clarissa, and I are at the Tailoring business in Adyegie. The homestays last for the next two weeks and the huts at our new home are huge. They are made of mud, concrete, wood, and straw.
We arrived at 10pm and were greeted by two women, Esther and a child named Maurine. They lead us into our hut and immediately helped us put up our mosquito nets. As we made our beds and settled, a feast of cassava, goat’s meat, black beans, rice, and cabbage was brought into our room by Esther’s daughter, Jillian. It was delicious and so flavorful. We scarfed most of it down as Esther encouraged us to finish it all to no avail. After eating a late dinner with the assistance of a small lantern, we shortly fell fast asleep.
The total immersion in the different communities has been my favorite part of the trip so far. There is no running water, electricity, power, or appliances typically found in an American home. Our homestay family uses lanterns, flashlights, and makes fires at night to cook and see. We use all of the amenities that we check for when home sanitary inspections. I am experiencing a new kind of peace and mental well-being. Every meal is prepared with love and is grown by the family. There are no grocery stores for miles, only a market once a week where village members trade animals, crops, sweets, and clothes. We go to sleep around 9:30/10pm every night after grilling corn around a fire with our adopted Father George, going for a walk around the family farm a kilometer away, dancing, playing games with the local children, or relaxing and gazing at the immaculate night sky. The sky here is unreal. It is a wonder of the world that sits above me every night back home but I can’t quite grasp its beauty. Here I stare up at it and get captured by it. Its like a perfectly mapped out planetarium projection. Every star shines so brightly. Constellations stand out so vividly, even the milky way is visible as a cloudy mass far above the trees. How can I leave this place?
Thursday, we worked on our video about our projects and their impact on the communities. We visited a piggery in Atura. We discussed the experience the community members have had working with both GHNU and the interns from Syracuse this year and in past years. This helped us see how we can improve programs and showed us which parts are still sustainable and successful.
Friday, we visited Omolo. The workshop is almost completed. The walls are finished and the roof is on. We have been shoveling dirt into the building and using wheelbarrows to coat the floor. Over the dirt, limestone has been packed down. The conclusive step that we will complete in our final week is laying concrete for the floor.
Saturday, Team A went to Lira while Team B hiked Sipi Falls. We visited the trade show that had been going on for the past week. There were showcased animals including a lion, a leopard, an ostrich, and Ziad even got to ride a camel. As we walked around, we got to buy gifts to bring home for ourselves, friends, and family. We enjoyed seeing the stands full of crafts and talking to merchants to learn about how their products are made, the materials they are made of, and where they are from. The day was well spent!
Sunday, we were lucky enough to spend the whole day with our host families. Early in the morning, my host family took us to church where we prayed and saw our host sisters perform a song and dance in front of the congregation. When we were home, the kids from the community showed us how to play some of the games they like. At night many members from the community came to our home. Our host Dad and his mother played the drums as women helped us learn the local dances and songs. We truly felt like part of the family and look forward to the next week.