Friday, November 6, 2009

Rural Home Stay

I left my rural home stay one week ago today. It was … an experience. I am glad that we had the opportunity to get a little glimpse of what life is like in another part of Uganda but I am glad to be back in Mukono.

We stayed in Karchorwa for one week. Friday to Friday. Kapchorwa is located in along the far Eastern Uganda border close to Kenya and is in the same mountain region as Mt. Elgon. It was absolutely beautiful and pictures just can not do justice to the beauty of God’s creation in this region.

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Abigail's Pictures 292

views from our front gate of Mt. Tebesad

My friend Abigail and I stayed together with a woman named Maama Dorothy (aka superwoman) and her four daughters who were between the ages of five and ten. Maama’s husband works as a policeman in western Uganda, a two days journey away from Kapchorwa, so she is left to manage the house, the animals, and all the land alone. (Please note that I have never had a Ugandan “Father”- seriously what is this??) Maama also has five older children, all boys, who were either away at school or working.

Abigail's Pictures 296me and the family

Maama was always busy doing something. The woman worked hard from sunrise to long after sunset. She was amazing. Unfortunately because Maama was always so busy we didn’t have much interaction with her the first two days. She was always running everywhere taking the cows to the pasture, the goats to graze, milking the cows, cutting down a matooke tree, bringing it back on her head, cutting up the tree to feed the cows, washing dishes, making tea, making lunch, collecting water to water the cows, milking the cows again, collecting eggs from the hens, bringing the cows home, bringing the goats home, washing dishes, making tea, making dinner, the list goes on and on. The woman never sat down once to just rest. The ONLY time I saw her sitting was when she was making a meal and when we went to church.

10-31-09 218 Abigail's Pictures 275  feeding the cows and taking out the goats

Abigail's Pictures 237 10-31-09 272 milking the cows and washing the dishes

Abigail's Pictures 26210-31-09 252 carrying matooke trees on head and fetching water

So while Maama was busy doing who knows what Abigail and just took it all in the first two days. We weren’t really sure what we were supposed to be doing so we spent some time playing what we thought was monkey in the middle with our sisters. For some reason it seemed like the girls were throwing the ball right at us for us to catch it, too easy. Then they demonstrated it for us and we realized they weren’t throwing it at us so we could catch it, they were trying to hit us. The point of the game (I think) was to see how many times you could dodge the ball. We still aren’t really sure though. I think they just liked hitting the mzungu’s with the ball because they kept making us go in the middle while they would take turns throwing the ball back and forth. Also the ball wasn’t what you would think of as a ball. It was circular, yes. But it was made out of plastic who-knows-whats, tightly wound and tied together. Abigail also played some kind of freeze tag with the kids while I watched and laughed at her.

As the days went by we started to help Maama with some of her work. We started with doing the dishes. Easy enough right? Not so much when you have to stand doubled over with your butt up in the air. Not the most comfortable position.

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Our next task was to help Maama water the cows. It also wasn’t the easiest task because of the steep incline from the stream where we fetched the water to the pasture. We filled up jerry cans and had to carry them all the way up the hill. Quite the workout, especially when your not used to that kind of work and your name is Hanna.

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One day we helped Maama go cut down a matooke tree to feed the cows. She cut it into three sections so that way we could all carry a piece of it on our heads. Maama then cut down another one and carried two on her head. So impressive.

10-31-09 199Abigail's Pictures 225 10-31-09 207 10-31-09 216

We also helped Maama take the goats out to graze. We had to journey down the side of the mountain and trample through a maize field to get to where she tied them up. It helped me get over my fear of goats. These were the main chores that we helped out with then the rest of the week unless it was raining.

Abigail's Pictures 244I think this is hiking back from taking the goats, as you can tell, I am booking it trying to keep up with Maama

It rained everyday we were there. It usually started sometime after lunch and  Maama would tell us to stay inside and take a sleep. She always insisted that we were tired. We didn’t fight her though because when it rained the temperature would plummet. It was freezing, and I of course forgot to pack a sweatshirt. Luckily Abigail brought a sweatshirt and a rain jacket. So I wore the rain jacket all week, which wasn't very warm but definitely better than nothing. Abigail and I actually spent quite a bit of time in our room. It was good for bonding but we got bored pretty easily.

There is so much more that I could write but honestly I just don’t feel like writing anymore. Overall, it was a good week. I gained a lot of respect for the people, especially the women, who live in rural Uganda. It is part of my experience that has definitely made a lasting impression on me.

Being away from the comforts of Mukono for a week was a challenge for me. It was hard to go day to day without a routine and not knowing what to expect. I found myself missing my family, my bed, my basin, and even my latrine in Mukono. It was weird to realize how comfortable I had become with my life in Mukono. I left my comfort zone in the U.S. and had already been able to create a new one here. weird weird weird. That kind of made me think of home home and the comforts in the U.S. and I experienced my first real feelings of homesickness. I am good though. It is now less that six weeks until I return home. Our schedule looks pretty busy for the remainder of the semester and I just know that these last weeks are going to be over before I know it. I am trying to take each day as it comes and continue to make the most of my experience.

Abigail's Pictures 206 walking home from church with friends

Sorry it took so long to get a post up. Hope you all had a wonderful week.


  1. good pictures! maama really is superwoman...
    i am very impressed that you carried a tree on your head. can you do that for me when you come home?
    oh yeah, and the mental image of your sisters throwing balls at you mzungu's in the middle made me laugh. especially when i think about you guys catching the ball instead of dodging them...if that was the point of the game that is haha
    i miss you!

  2. Hanna, sounds like living in Mukono is modern
    civilization compared to Kapchorwa. Maybe when
    you get home you can help Grandpa cut wood for
    the fireplace and carry it in on your head,
    what a skill! Miss you, Aunt Carol

  3. Hanna, I thought I missed you, but I realized that I know more what is going on in your life since you are in Uganda than when you were in Bluffton. I guess that is a good thing.

  4. Hey han! I just saw your aunt carol at breakfast, I ask her about you whenever I go to the frontier. Ive been reading your blogs that people bring into the hardware and your experience sounds awesome! I cant wait to hear all about it when you come back! Have a safe 6 weeks and journey home
    Love Courtney (Niggel) lol just incase other people named courtney may write you =)

  5. Wow Maama IS quite the woman. I love that she has to "bring the cows home." Also those girls look a lot like little boys in skirts.
    Sista sista

  6. Han,

    Thanks for posting those pictures. The one where Maama was "feeding" the cows scared me a bit though. With her raising that machete over head, I think the cow was a bit scared too. Anyway, just want to let you know that I'm still praying for you on the homefront. Can't wait to see you soon.


  7. Hanna I think you would make a great farmer. Maybe you should consider working on one when you get home. Loved the picture of balancing stuff on your head. I hope we can see that demonstrated at church when you get back. We continue to lift you up in prayer. I am sure God is teaching you many things. God Bless

  8. Hanna, I just got around to catching up on your blog. Great pictures...what beautiful skies! So glad that your rural stay went well. I smiled when you said you missed the comforts of your home and family in Mukono. I'm sure leaving them will be difficult. And Maama in Kapchorwa IS superwoman! Love ya - Aunt Gayle