5:30am how I hate you

When my alarm went off at 5:30 am this morning for the fourth day in a row, I nearly threw my phone across the room. Thanks to the foresight of Babs who insisted I buy the mother of all cases, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world for my phone. It only felt like the end of the world for me. It couldn’t be 5:30 already!! I could feel every bump in the road from all the motorcycle riding I’d been doing the past three days and the weariness in my limbs that comes from long hours in the sun. Day four. I can do this.

This week has been all about the new youth resource centers that we’re building in conjunction with CARE International. CARE is building several, but we’ve been involved in the construction of two: one in Patiko sub-county, and one in Lamogi sub-county.

Monday morning was taken up by driving from one side to the other making sure everything was in order for the official ceremonies on Tuesday and Wednesday. I think I probably spent about 5 or 6 hours on a bike….talk about sore cheeks, man.
Tuesday and Wednesday were the official ceremonies! They were exciting, energy filled, wonderful events, but MAN those were long, hot, exhausting days. Each evening, I could do nothing but go home and go to bed.
Today (Thursday) and tomorrow, we officially breaking in the new youth center with trainings on peace-building for vocational teachers and role model youth in Lamogi sub-county.

Our crazy week had meant a few things:
1) I have so much reporting to do. And paperwork to fill out. Ugh.
2) I am stiff and sore and growing to really hate these Ugandan roads.
3) I’m really tired.

However, there’s a fourth result, and this one is really the most important…
4) The youth of Patiko and Lamogi now have somewhere to meet, attend trainings, organize themselves, and receive services. They have these beautiful new buildings that will be partially their responsibility to take care of, and they can be proud of them. These centers mark real progress in infrastructure development, and they will facilitate more and better programs for youth in the rural villages in the future. Upwards of 200 people attended each ceremony to hear talks, listen to music, be entertained, and learn about what the future holds for them in these centers. I believe that they’ll come, that these centers will be places of learning and growing and coming together. I hope that meaningful work will be done there by all, and I look forward to being a part of it.

The center openings were held during the first few days of a campaign in the area called 16 Days of Gender Activism. It is a huge event put on by many different NGO’s, so the ceremonies also carried the theme of advocating for more peaceful households and putting a stop to GBV. Local musicians and singers came and performed songs with titles such as “Say No to Gender-Based Violence.” Everyone in attendance received the trademark purple 16 Days ribbon to show their commitment to ending GBV, and it was really a beautiful sight.

So yes I’m tired. Yes I’m sore. Yes I’ve still got dust in my hair even though I’ve showered twice. Yes I’m a little sunburned. But these past days have been inspirational, moving, and exciting. So was it worth it? Absolutely.


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