Rural Homestay: Kapchorwa
This experience was quite possibly the highlight of my semester thus far. In just one week I began to learn how to do life in a rural setting- no power or running water and very little outside influence.
My parents were Patrick and Joy, both teachers in local schools. They have five sons, but none live at home. They are in different levels of school- the eldest is finished and a doctor living in Soroti, the youngest is in P7 and at boarding school.
Patrick and Joy own a large coffee and matoke farm. It is nestled on an uphill slope with its back to a cliff wall. Their home area has three buildings: one is the home, the middle is a kitchen and maid quarters, and the third is a hut for the boys to stay in. They have recently constructed a more permanent dwelling for the men to stay in just below the family area. There are also other homes on the property- the families that work the land for them (while they teach) live there.
We arrived in Kapchorwa (a huge district) midday Friday. I rode in a van with several other students. Vincent (our excellent driver from Mukono) manages to remember all the rural as well as the Mukono homestay locations. He is awesome.
I want to tell about my week in its entirety- but that might be really hard to cover in this blog. Therefore I am going to give a few highlights from each day to give you a better idea of what I did.
Day 1: Arrival
On way into town saw Ugandan gold medal winner, Kipsiro. For once, the van full of muzungus was not the main attraction.
Met my family.
Ate a banana under the passion fruit tree.
Struggled to set up my net, then learned that it’s too cold for mosquitos and celebrated by taking it down.
Settled into my room- cool, dark, and just for me.
Fetched water from a cave.
Met Dave, the doctor and eldest son. Took him to the main road to catch a ride back to Soroti and discovered Tony living by the road. Took tea with him and met his family.
Discovered three kittens from our cat in one of the rooms.
Saw a chameleon on a coffee tree.
Went to church- took tons of photos of small girls outside, sat through several hours of service, received prayer from congregation.
Papa says, “Africans waste time”, but I don’t think so, the sense of time is just different
Washed my hair in the open air shower room- it’s nestled between coffee trees, tall grass and boulders
Saw how matoke is harvested
Helped slaughter the chicken for dinner. When Papa got home and I told him he said, “God bless you”.
Ate the chicken for dinner and tried to eat the gizzard- the part of the chicken reserved for honored guests
Had a coke with dinner- yum
Picked coffee with the women
Sorted the maize and threw the bad ones to the chickens
Went with my cousin Immaculate on a crazy hike to a cliff face high above my home.
Watched a home burn across town at dusk.
Went to a shop and saw a bar (random I know but in this setting it just seems odd)
A sidenote about the farm:
The intricacies of the way the farm works is just incredible. Coffee is a huge income source. Matoke feeds the family as well as the animals for years.
We own and feed two cows, a cat and her kittens, a dog, numerous chickens (the rooster is a pretty decent alarm clock) and chicks, one pig and three piglets.]
Spent my day with a different cousin, Lynn
Bought g-nuts from the shop today and pounded them into butter for the sauce at lunch (my arms killed)
Watched men use oxen to plow a field with sunflower seeds
Ate dead dried little fish for lunch with g-nut sauce
Lynn took me to meet her family, involved an incredible hike once again
Met her dad, a polygamist (3 wives, he is 78)
Met a woman and she had me name her baby
Went to the cliff again, but from a different direction
Was a good Sabeine woman and hand-washed my clothes
Saw homes that have been burning (many blame spirits/clan curse) across town
Visited Papa’s school and met the teachers and students
Ran in the rain along the road- laughed like a wild woman
Met a koko (gogo) and she was 90. She wanted to be my friend and asked me to come stay with her.
Fireflies came out to guide us home from the shops
Showed my family pictures of Florida- it’s hard for them to understand the ocean- I tried to explain anyway
Stars are bright tonight- no clouds
Went to weed the eggplant patch- not quite as easy as back home, involves a curved heavy hoe and a ton of upper-body strength
Chilled on a big boulder in the yard and climbed a tree
Went to Mama’s school and bonded with her co-teachers. They were young women who loved me for some reason. They called me Chebet, my Sabeine name and I really felt connected with them.
Karrid and her friends performed tons of songs for me and I recorded most of them
Played like a little girl with Immaculate and Karrid- they taught me a hand game:
DO DO DO
1, 2, 3, 4……
Went to bed and found one of the kittens under my blankets. He kept me company on my last night.
Day 8: Final Day
Got ready to go very early.
Took tea and breakfast with my family under the passion fruit tree. (Mama and Papa stayed home for the day to see me off)
Exchanged information and took last minute photos.
Mama and Immaculate saw me off at the road, I promised to see them again some day.
Reunited with fellow IMME students in van, cried with some as they said goodbye to their families.
Drove to Sipi Falls for the weekend (relaxation and debrief).