Sunday, May 31, 2009

To All PC Uganda August Invitees:

There's a group on Facebook with several other August invitees you should join!

Friday, May 29, 2009

I need...

A new blog title. Now taking recommendations.

**UPDATE: nevermind :)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Here's the mail It never makes me wanna wag my tail...when it comes I wanna wail...MAIL!!!

My address during training will be:

“My Name,” PCT
P.O. Box 29348
Kampala, Uganda

After training, I will establish a mailing address in the community where I’m posted. So, this address will be a temporary one used during my first few months in Uganda. I’ll let you know what my new address will be when I receive it!

Some thoughts:
  • Letters take a minimum of two weeks to arrive in Uganda if sent by airmail, packages even longer.

  • Packages sent by surface mail usually take between one and two months.

  • Some mail may simply not arrive (this is not a frequent occurrence, but it does happen). Number your letters (so I can tell if one is out of order or missing) and to write “Airmail” and “Par Avion” on your envelopes.

  • Print the address very clearly, preferably in all capital letters.

  • I've been told that writing something religious (like bible verses, crosses, or writing "Sister (my name)" in the address line) can also help my mail reach me safely!

  • Postcards should be sent in envelopes (or they might end up decorating the wall of the local post office).

  • If you want to send me a package, it is best to keep it small and use a padded envelope so it will be treated as a letter and will reach its destination quicker and *possibly* unopened. I will probably have to pay fees on boxes, so stuff everything in a padded envelope if possible!

  • If you want to send me some batteries, you’ll have to “forget” you packed them when filling out customs forms (the U.S. won’t send batteries overseas)!

  • Also, be as vague as possible on the customs forms. Instead of DVDs or Books, write “educational material” or “nutritional material” for food products, etc. That way the temptation to look inside may be reduced.

  • Valuables should not be sent through the mail. Duty may be charged on food and cosmetics. (this is where creative "claiming" might come in handy...)

  • DO NOT SEND MONEY! It will not reach me.
Some helpful sites to determine how to cheaply send me mail:

One last thing: It would be lovely if you could include some Ziploc bags in each envelope :)

Uganda Facts

The Peace Corps has three goals:

1) Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
2) Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
3) Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

I'm going to take a crack at #3 now!



Uganda is located in Central-Western Africa, right on the equator.

It's a landlocked country with five neighbors: Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Since Uganda's borders with Sudan, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo might make some people nervous, I'm just going to make a little note here about my safety:

1) Peace Corps told us that volunteers will not be placed in areas of concern and these areas are also off-limits to travel (i.e. in the North near the Sudanese border and along the Eastern border with the Congo).

2) We will have extensive training on safety issues during our pre-service training.

3)The Peace Corps has emergency evacuation pla
ns and they implement them if they feel volunteers are in any danger (such as during political unrest, like recently in Georgia and Madagascar).

In the south-west part of Uganda lies Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile River! Uganda is also home to many other bodies of water and game reserves. 12 percent of the terrain is made up of national parks, forest, and game reserves.

Uganda’s land area is 96,456 square miles, including 17,600 square miles of open water or swampland. Uganda has an equatorial climate that is moderated by altitude.

Average annual rainfall varies from more than 84 inches around Lake Victoria to about 20 inches in the northeast. Vegetation is heaviest in the south, thinning out to savanna and dry plains in the northeast.

Over most of Uganda the weather is pleasant and not uncomfortable for much of the year. There is a lot of sunny weather with daily hours of sunshine averaging from six to eight and only much less than this in the wetter mountain districts.

Temperatures are never excessively high and humidity does not reach the consistently high levels found in equatorial lowlands. Wet spells lasting a day or two are not unusual but much of the rain comes in heavy thundery showers. There is no real cool season but the daily range of temperature is enough to make the nights cool rather than chilly.

For example, the maximum daily temperature in Kampala is around 77º F all year round, falling to 17 degrees centigrade 63º F at night. There are two periods of the year which experience considerably more rainfall than the average. These are March to May and October to November.

The total area of Uganda is a little smaller than Oregon with a population of around 30.9 million people.

85 percent are Christian while 12 percent are Muslim. World and local religions have coexisted for more than a century in Uganda, and many people have established a coherent set of beliefs about the nature of the universe by combining elements of the two. Except in a few areas, world religions are seldom viewed as incompatible with local religions.

English is the official language, with Luganda and Swahili also widely used. Other Bantu and Nilotic languages are common throughout Uganda. There are three major linguistic families in Uganda and about 50 distinct languages divided among them. The language families also tend to define the boundaries of cultural differences. I don't know what language I'll be speaking during service yet, I'll find out when I begin pre-service training.

Uganda is divided into 80 districts, spread across four administrative regions: Northern, Eastern, Central and Western. The districts are subdivided into counties. Most districts are named after their main commercial and administrative towns. Each district is divided into sub-districts, counties, sub-counties, parishes and villages. The capitol of Uganda is Kampala.

Uganda's population is predominately rural, with most residing in the southern regions.
The country is also now home to thousands of refugees from neighboring countries Sudan, DRC, Rwanda, Somalia, and Burundi.

Natural resources: Copper, cobalt, limestone, phosphate, and oil.

Cash crops--coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, sugar cane, cut flowers, vanilla; Food crops--bananas, corn, cassava, potatoes, millet, pulses; and Livestock and fisheries--beef, goat meat, milk, Nile perch, tilapia.

Industry: Processing of agricultural products (cotton ginning, coffee curing), cement production, light consumer goods, and textiles.

Trade: coffee, fish and fish products, tea, electricity, horticultural products, vanilla, cut flowers, and remittances from abroad.

The currency in Uganda is called the Ugandan Shilling. 1 Ugandan shilling = 0.000445335 U.S. dollars. 1 US Dollar = 2,245.50 Uganda Shilling.

During Uganda’s civil wars, the healthcare system basically collapsed. It is still barely functional outside urban areas, and in certain services, today’s care is worse than it was in
the 1980s.

The Peace Corps issues each volunteer with a medical kit (see page 45 of the Uganda Welcome Book). If the contents of my medical kit are unable to help me, the Peace Corps has wonderful medical staff and, if nothing seems to be helping in country or if I am in need of medical care not available, the Peace Corps will "medivac" me to either Kenya or back to the States for medical service.

Life expectancy has increased
from 44 to 47 years since 2000.

Health, nutrition, and child survival indicators have improved in part because of the government’s promotion of immunization to prevent childhood killer diseases such as measles, polio, and whooping cough. Howeve
r, many infectious diseases remain endemic, including respiratory tract infections, anemia, tetanus, malaria, and tuberculosis.

A significant accomplishment is Uganda’s vigorous, effective response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, with adult HIV infection rates reduced by half over the past 10 years.

Nonetheless, about half a million Ugandans are living with HIV/AIDS, and 1.7 million children under age 18 have lost one or both parents to AIDS — a number expected to double within the next 10 years. The epidemic has had a tremendous social, economic, and personal impact on the country and its people.

As a Community Health and Economic Development (CHED) volunteer, my primary duties will consist of working with individuals affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, prevention of HIV/AIDS, and working to create sustainable economic development strategies.

The Flag:
The Ugandan flag consists of six alternating black, yellow, and red stripes with an image of a red-crested crane, the national symbol, superimposed in the middle.

Well....I guess I'll leave your little lesson on that note. I gathered most of this information from the U.S. State Department, Adventure in Uganda, the BBC, and my Uganda Welcome Book.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


A very rough draft of a packing list.

**It seems like so much...SUGGESTIONS WELCOME!

* = I have
italics = still need

*Timbuk 2 messenger
*Osprey Porter
*Samsonite upright rolling suitcase-thingy
*1 empty duffle bag for the crap PC gives me in training
*Camping sleeping bag (Coleman)

*1 Dress (for special events like swearing in)
*5 Skirts
*5 shirts
*3 tee shirts
*3 button-up shirts
*2 sweaters
*Tank tops
*2 lounge pants/pj pants
*2 jeans
*1 Gauchos
*1 Bathing suit (1-piece, tankini)
*KU baseball cap
*1 "khakis" dark color (dark beige, olive green)
*1 lightweight hoodie
*1 rainjacket
*2 slips (half)
*3 bras
*5 pair socks (non-white)
*20 underwear (10 in Ziploc bag for 2nd year)
*Few pieces jewelry

*2 sandal/flip flops
*Teva sandals
*1 dressy shoes
*Tennis shoes

*3 month supply of medicine
*Body soap
*Fluoride mouthwash
*Hair Brush
*Tampons (OB)
*4 Deodorant (Dove)
*1 Dental floss
*1 Lotion (Johnson’s)
*1 Dove face moisturizer with sunscreen
*Extra razor blades
*Nail clippers
*Hand sanitizer
*2 Chapstick (Burt’s Bees)
*Hair ties, bobby pins
*Face Wash
*1 Washcloth
*Small mirror

*MP3 player
*Portable speakers
*Digital Camera (with disk and book)
*Extra memory card
*Rechargeable batteries AA and AAA
*Alarm Clock
Shortwave Radio (any recommendations?)
*Flash Drive
*solar battery charger (Solio H1000)
*Laptop (with reboot disks and book)
*External Hard Drive
*Laptop lock
Plug adapter(s) (British 3-pin plugs) (Buy over there?)
*Converter(s) (stepdown voltage converter) (Uganda is 220V, 50 cycles, but can range anywhere from 190V to 260V)
*Head phones

*Crosswords/Sudoku (NY Times crosswords?)
*Photos from home
*Watercolor notebook
*Paint brushes
*Sketching pencils
*Sketch book
*2 water bottles
*Swiss Army knife
*Sewing Kit
*Gardening seeds (Cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, beans, pumpkin, tomatoes, spinach, dill, basil, brussels sprouts, chives, parsley, peas, African Daisy, Sunflower, cabbage, corn)
*Money/passport belt-thingy (thanks Elise!)
*Luggage Locks
*Ear plugs
*Emergency debit card
*Flat sheet x2
*Plastic mattress cover (to keep the bedbugs off me)
*Stapler with staples
*Duct Tape
*Deck of Cards

*Crystal light/sugar-free Grape KoolAid drink powder
Turkey Jerky
*Luna and Cliff Bars (yeah...I did have these, but I ate them!)
Seasoning packets
*Tea (green)
*Hot sauce

*Veggie Peeler
*Ziplock bags different sizes
*Measuring spoons/cups
*Can Opener
*Knife for cooking
*Fork and Knife set

*Immunization forms
*Staging forms
*Photo Id
*8 Passport pictures
*Student loan deferment papers

Last update: 8/1/09

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bizarre Foods

I just couldn't help myself!

And the winner is....


*sorry Jenna...lots of pics :(

Also...I'm looking for long, ankle-length skirts...but can't find any that will work! Annoying :(

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Toolkit update :)

My new front page:

*Application status update! For once an exclamation point is a good thing:

Your toolkit won't tell you what you're assignment is until you call to accept. Then it'll update with all sorts of cool and exciting things:

Notice how it says "Invitee Toolkit" now? Pretty awesome :)

* Apparently they do a final legal clearance between the time you accept your invitation and when you arrive at staging. That's why my "Legal" section doesn't say "Complete" and why it says they've completed my "initial legal review"

Monday, May 18, 2009


I got an email from my PO Patrick Carey early this morning:

In reviewing your application fully, I really think your original health program in Africa is the best fit for you. You are always free to participate in whatever secondary activities interest you (ie, English tutoring, community development, etc.) as long as the community has expressed a need in that area.

I plan to issue your invitation this morning and I trust that it will find you at your address later this week.


Based on the fact that it's for my original SSA health nomination, I am about 99% sure my invitation is for Uganda.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Patiently waiting and new experience

No recent news from PC placement yet, although I'm hoping to hear something by the end of the month.

I set up an opportunity to get some additional experience this summer. It's job related, so not volunteer work, but I figure any new experience is a good thing! I'm going to be helping run a summer art camp for children age 4-7 in June. I'm really excited to be able to do an art camp! We've got tons of fun stuff planned :)

That's all for now...

Hopefully next time I'll post I'll have fun and exciting placement news!