Thursday, September 27, 2007

obolo kome

Day #1
wow. we just got back from a re-settlement site called obolokome. i think the translation means the poor unite. it's hard to wrap words around everything i'm seeing. these re-settlement sites have better conditions than the first idp camps (called mother camps) because there's a bit more room but nothing compared to their normal village life where they had tons of land and small communities spread out across a large region. their true village life and culture that goes along with it can't be fully realized given the very tight constraints. but, the trade has been safety while in these camps.

there's still a ton of joy wherever you go. smaller kids are running around taking care of their baby siblings. they live in mud huts with something like straw roofs. and the school is in the very center of the site. kids made a soccer ball by rolling plastic bags and tying them together in a round ball shape. women sit outside their huts and open corn/nuts/eggplant to dry out in the sun. chickens and small goats are running around. kids are gathered under the shade of trees and follow closely behind us walking thru their sites giggling every time we turn around to speak to them. some of the littlest ones started to cry if i smiled or waved. i think i scared them by looking so different. a swarm of kids gathered around me and i asked if i could take their picture. afterwards i showed it to them and they shrieked with curiousity and joy. it became a game we kept up for a few minutes.

we came to one hut with an elderly woman sitting on the ground peiling corn. i didn't see many elderly people in general so they stand out. betty, an advisor who is from arua, the northwestern tip of uganda, sat in the dirt with this woman and they began a long discussion about life in the camps.

we walked over to the school where diana interviewed a group of students asking about their hopes and dreams of what they wanted to be when they finish school. these gorgeous kids with huge smiles lit up and answered, "teacher, doctor, leader" one after another. the school has a nursery and a garden. they're learning all about agriculture. i spoke with one of the teachers in the school. he teaches agriculture and mathematics. he said classrooms are full of 75 kids.

its so hard to capture the feeling of community in these camps. they're all for each other and with each other all the time. the contrast of how solitary our lives can be in the states is amazing. our culture seems so based on our dire need for privacy and we could learn a ton from these communities.

tomorrow we will go back there and they will sing and dance for us. i will also bring my guitar and reciprocate!!

on our drive back to mc headquarters we saw women carrying children on their backs and HUGE sacks of kasava root on balanced on their heads. these bags are the size of a really large back of soil and i have no idea how they balance all they carry for so many miles. they make this 4-5 mile trek so often. and school children in their uniforms were walking the long road home. these kids have so much joy in their faces pouring out of their eyes. what's amazing to me is how resourceful and organized these communities are. the picture the media paints in the us is so limited. it's easy to assume that they are hopeless and helpless given the facts about their lives and political history of the last 20 years. but it's not accurate it all. these are brilliant people in thriving communities making the most of their lives which have been so displaced by the war. i have a hard time with the name of our concert series. i wouldn't call these people a disaster -just the opposite. it's remarkable.

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