This week we began doing real-student things. We started Saturday by going on what SIT calls a ‘drop-off’, where we were divided into groups and sent into the city to explore certain aspects of Ugandan life. My group’s mission was to learn about the marketplace, and Gulu business in general. We talked to 7 different vendors whose mastery of english varied greatly. We learned some interesting things; like the backpack vendor who told us that his business was actually better during the war because there was less competition.
That afternoon, our host families began to filter in to pick us up. We all stood around nervously, feeling a little like puppies jumping around in a cardboard box trying to look the cutest so that we’d get adopted first. Of course, SIT would never allow for such a selection process, and our families had actually already been determined. I was assigned to the family of Bosco Komakech, who happens to be the homestay coordinator for the program. He lives a little ways out of town, in a very nice house. I have the luxury of a bathroom with a toilet, while many of my colleagues are stuck with a pit latrine–if you don’t know what that is, you probably don’t want to know anyways.
Bosco is the director of Caritas, which is the Ugandan branch of Catholic Relief Services. He does a lot of interesting work with resettlement communities, and areas effected by the war–I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more over the time I spend at his house.
Rose, his wife, works with a trauma and healing NGO, and she is planning to start her own NGO soon to help children whose lives have been severely effected by the war. She is very committed to the idea of creating a community support system for what she calls a ‘lost generation’ of children.
Together, Rose and Bosco have three adorable daughters: Bridget, who is 6, and Michelle and Marinda who are 3 year old twins. They all seemed a little wary of me for the first day or so, but they have been warming up to the idea of a stranger in their house.
There are also two house girls named Teddy and Alice who help with the cooking and cleaning, and a boy named Brian who is part-adopted family member/part-house boy. Finally, as for animals, there are two guard dogs, a cat, a goat, and some chickens.
The title of this post is something that Rose said to me my first night when I offered to help clear the table. Now that I have spent more than one day in their house, I am no longer considered a guest, and more considered part of the family, and share in the responsibilities. I’m pretty excited to learn how to cook traditional Ugandan meals like matoke!
As I said before, their house is pretty far out of town, but there are a few other people from the program nearby. I get a ride in the morning from Rose because she has to drop Bridget off for school, but we have to find our way back in the afternoon. I really have no idea how long it will take, but I’m about to find out as soon as I finish this entry and leave the Coffee Hut–more info coming soon!