Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Digging and Dancing

Sunday was a fantastically busy day! Some of the mentors organized our first community outreach through an Educate! affiliated group called the Change Makers Association (CMA). They identified a community near Kampala and decided with the village leaders to do a sanitation sensitization and cleaning project. So, as per our instructions, we all arrived pretty much on time Sunday morning at the little market. Members of the community who had been mobilized by community leaders were already hard at work digging out the "trenches."

Trenches are just open gutters that run alongside the roads, and in this case, through the market. I had thought trenches weren't as bad here as they were in Ghana (and really they aren't, they're much more discrete--often covered with grates, and they don't smell as bad, probably due to the drier climate), but these were sufficiently gross. So we all grabbed our hoes and shovels and sticks and started emptying out trash and detritus to be taken away by trucks. (I didn't actually do that much, but there is photographic evidence of me with a hoe. The whole trash picking up aspect kind of reminded me of the boathouse, in a "how did I end up in a trash picking job again?" kind of way. It's like painting jobs, they just follow me wherever I go! But it also gave me fond memories of the BH, of course).

Anyways, it was a fun project overall and nice to spend some time in another part of Kampala with industrious people interested in making positive changes in their communities! Also, as another side note (perhaps I'll just rename this blog "sidenotes" because that's about all it is), I was beyond impressed by some of the community members who are normally farmers but volunteered their services for this project. This one guy in particular just made the hoeing look effortless! He stood with a foot on either side of the trench, swung the hoe way above his head, arms fully extended, let gravity pull it straight down in front where it grabbed up a huge chunk of dirt, and then tossed it to the side as he swung it around above his head again. It was like watching a clock hand go round... Effortless. Then I tried... I bent my knees, braced myself for some serious labor, lifted the hoe to about knee level, dropped it into the ground barely making a dent, tugged at it a few times, got a speck or two of dirt and flung it to another section that I was supposed to be digging... I think I needed a little more practice.

After the hard manual labor, I trekked off to the National Theatre to watch one of the high schools that we work with put on an incredible performance. It was a play with a ridiculously dramatic plot (twin brothers separated at birth who later become best friends and their mother is warned that if they find out they're related they'll both die, and in the end they do in a crazy gun fight show down). However, it wasn't just a play. Between every single scene, there was a completely unrelated, unexplained and irrelevant dance or chorus performance. The dance performances were incredible, especially the hip hop and African ones (although there were some hilarious little kid ballet ones in the beginning). The chorus performances were great too, because it generally involved bringing the entire school onto the stage (maybe... 70 kids?) to sing together, however miraculously, they were pretty good! They also had a live band, also made up of high school students. The play was fantastic on its own too, not only because it was ridiculous, but because so many of the scenes were really unimportant to the movement of the plot and I think that's hilarious. It was like unintentional metatheatre (if that's possible, I think it has to be intentional). I loved it!

Anyways, it was splendid Sunday (although a little long), and a great way to start off the week (or end the weekend, whichever). Also, I had another experience that I meant to share on an earlier post but forgot until now. So let me take you back in time to about a week ago:

I was walking into work this morning and as I approached the building I heard this hilarious music coming from across the little street. I glanced in (because the door was wide open) and there were probably three guys having a 9 in the morning jam session. They were right on beat, I’ll give them that, and they had a clear melody, but their choice of instruments was a little peculiar. They had a deafeningly loud drum banging out a steady BAM pause BAM pause BAM. They had some kind of string instrument—maybe just an acoustic guitar, ok that’s normal, that’s acceptable. But the most prominent and interesting choice of instruments had to be the recorder, whistling out a borderline jolly tune. I say borderline, because perhaps if it had been a little more up-tempo it would have made some kind of musical sense, but instead it was exactly on the beat of the deep, thundering drum and the contrast between the two was just too funny. It was a great way to start the day.

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