This has been a while... sorry.
Since my last blog I was hospitalized overnight for typhoid. SIT sent me to the nicest hotel in Gulu, and it still sucked hard core. They took my blood with a syringe which hurt like hell, and left a nice bruise in my wrist. The room was really nice, the actual medical care was really quite awful. There was no food, toilet paper, sterilization, the IV drip was really quite painful. They put in some other drug through my IV with a syringe and pushed it all in at once... ouch. I will take this opportunity to pity myself for being in the hospital, but also to point out that this was the nicest, most expensive hospital in Gulu... What are the not-so-nice ones like. I would be terrified if this was it for hospitals for me. I am lucky because I get to go back to the US where hospitals are fantastic (I never realized how fantastic until this experience). I guess this little piece is to point out something to be grateful for in our lives in the US.
Some other things that happened...
I got really frustrated with my host father. I woke up on Sunday, cooked breakfast, did laundry, and cooked lunch. Wego on the other hand, woke up bathed, napped, and showed up for lunch. I sat down before lunch to just take a little break. As soon as I sat down he told me to get him water. I said no. I explained to him that I had been working all day and it would not kill him to get up and get some water. I know this may sound incredibly rude to the readers out there, but I would like to point out one thing. SIT told us before we went to our houses to bring some American culture. What better culture to bring than some equality in the household. After I explained to him why I said no, I went to my room. He asked Samuel to bring him water, which Samuel did. One of my many older siblings was at the house that day. He came into my room and told me Wego respected me for saying no. Later that night, Wego and I chatted about male female dynamics. He explained to me that although I only saw Daisy in the fields harvesting all the plants, I never saw all the work he did planting the crops. He said that men in Acholi plant, and women harvest. Women have all power when it comes to the food in the house. I explained to him that I know he works hard to pay for his many kids tuition (He was polygamous at one point, but his second wife died and now he has Daisy, but that is why there are so many kids)but Daisy also works hard. He told me Daisy doesn't work because she doesn't make money. I argued that the money he makes would be nothing if Daisy didn't do the work she does at home. He chuckled, agreed with me, and told me he would wash dishes with me and even cook. Win.
This past week I have been in Kitgum. It borders Sudan and was the site of even more war trauma than Gulu.The road from Gulu to Kitgum is one that has seen so much bloodshed. Hundreds of thousands of people died on that road during the past decade. LRA soldiers mass murdered anyone on the road one day to prove to the Ugandan government that they do not have control. One thing that has been really hard here is dealing with ghosts.
I am not Ugandan, and I never will be. I did not experience the war, and I never will. These are two very simple and obvious statements; however, they were necessary to really come to terms with so I could continue my trip here without loosing myself. It was incredibly hard to hear the stories of my mego and wego and go to sleep in the same house where such evil had been. Robbin's night terrors and the constant feeling of death and trauma and destruction started to turn into ghosts. I could see it all. Driving on the road to Kitgum I could see the thousands dead. Lying in bed at night I could start hear the LRA knocking. I wasn't there, but being here and having those memories be not only so vivid for these people, but relevant makes it difficult to understand my part. Should I be this connected when I haven't even been there? The answer for me (it could be different for others) is only if I want to loose myself. I am not Ugandan and I did not suffer this war, I should not see ghosts, but instead I should see the people who are there today and where they could be tomorrow. Pure evil is what occurred here... knowing that this evil is not just in the movies is enough to haunt someone. If I were to focus on this evil over the steady rebuilding, my time here would be wasted. People are moving on, I do not know how after all that they have seen or done, but they are moving on and it would just be backwards for me to focus and drown myself in the atrocities that happened here.
Side note/prediction... Kony will come back to Northern Uganda. Northern Uganda is incredibly oppressed by the South. People are frustrated but do not want to fight. They are waiting for the "fight that will end all fights". Hundreds of thousands of college students are graduating each year in Uganda and only a select few get jobs. Highly educated young people without jobs.... sounds familiar. The people that start protests will be stopped by Musevini. When this happens, anger will arise and they will look for someone to lead them against Musevini...
Back to Kitgum. It has been a great break from the homestay. I have spent all week with the SIT kids and it was exactly what I needed. What we all needed. It has been hard living with homestays and going to class, and never really having time to debrief with fellow friends. This week was just that. A long debrief.
I am going to be doing once in a lifetime research with Doctor David. I will be monitoring 5 HIV patients who will start ARV treatment in the month of my ISP. It is said that ARVs can alter one's psychological state.... I will be meeting with these patients over the course of the month to see if this is true in my small sample size.
Overall, I love it here. I am coming into my own here, and I am just really liking who I am becoming.