Monday, April 18, 2011

We are on what? Standfast.

Over the past week here in Uganda things have been a little hectic to say the least. The opposition leaders who lost the Presidential Elections have teamed up for the month of April to partake in the 'Walk to Work' campaigns. So far there have been three demonstrations around the country with the third taking place today. The demonstrations have resulted in arrests, tear gas, rubber bullets, real bullets and just over-all unrest. You see, the protests were in the form of 'Walk to Work Day' where people walked to work in protest of high gas prices and rising food prices, also known as inflation. Inflation in Uganda was probably caused by the government printing money arbitrarily to “fund” the election campaigns (side note: Musevini spent 3/4 of the annual budget between January and February). When the government has been in power for more than 20 years and can use government funds to back the party’s favorite candidates, and like other irresponsible monetary policy makers, when the government wants money it just prints it.

Short Econ Lesson:
1) Government wants money to do something (ex: build schools/buy failing company/fund campaign)
2) Government prints money (because they control the printing press)
3) Money goes into circulation
4) More money in circulation without added value to the economy makes the money worth less
5) Money is worth less so the price of other goods rises
6) Ta-da! Inflation!

Now people who had been saving money have x amount of shillings, the same as before, but they have less purchasing power than before. In severe cases, this can cause people to starve. That is why people are protesting. That is why the opposition is leading these 'walk to work' days. The government has had this miserable idea of arresting/shooting the opposing party and using the police/military force to shut down the protests. Problems with this method include:

1) Looking like an A-hole for shooting people walking to work (I mean really, the Lorax would walk)
2) Looking like an A-hole for messing with the opposition leaders in a less than polite way

I think it probably been better for the government to agree with the people that high prices aren't fair when due to government misuse, promise to separate party funds from government funds (aka people fund the politicians they like) and then allow (or join) the opposition in walking to work, thus unifying the country’s politics and look real mature. No burning tires required.

Today, opposition leaders Besigye, Mao, and Otuuno were all arrested while Jinja has stopped transportation going everywhere - boda boda drives and taxis are not running. Demonstrations in Gulu, Masaka, Kibale, Kampala, Jinja and now starting to move towards Mukono are taking place while NRM police lead opposition following close in toe.

Currently, Kayunga where I am living is quite. There are many people in town who do not agree with Musevini or the NRM, but who are nervous to start opposition movements due to the police presence here in Kayunga. In Bukoloto the next town over a group of people got together to express support for the 'Walk to Work' campaign and they were stopped immediately by police. For now Kayunga is safe and I am happy and healthy here at work and home in Nakalilo.

Peace Corps is keeping us up to date on what is happening in the surrounding areas of the country as well as having us all on Standfast. This means we must stay at our sites (where we live and work). Hopefully things calm down soon for the safety of Ugandas and others as well as so people can travel this upcoming holiday weekend.

If you would like to keep up to date on the 'Walk to Work' campaign and the happenings surrounding the events please click here.

Below is an article I would love to share with you from Uganda's President Museveni. It is a brilliant showing of how insightful, humble and caring for his people Musevini is (note: sarcasm):

1. "If you come and demonstrate in my farm here, I will spear you."
2. "I can see myself getting Nobel Peace Prize for managing the country, especially the army, very well."
3. "...if [Western forces] want another Vietnam, they will get it."

Enjoy - and be thankful no matter what your political beliefs are back home and how you feel about Obama that it could always be worse - thank the lord for democracy.

Demos won't topple me, we will defeat the West.
Daily Monitor April 18th, 2011

Ronald Ssekandi, Xinhua: Your Excellency, there have been demonstrations in town about the inflation and I am seeking your comment as the Head-of-State?

It is true inflation is going up. It was about 5 per cent; it is now going towards 11 per cent. The main factors seem to be food and fuel. There was some unreliable rain from August 2010 to January. Some of the crops did not do well.
There is also bigger food demand in the region. You people with your [Forum for Democratic Change party leader, Kizza] Besigye only think about the town people. When food prices go up, yes people in towns suffer but farmers are very happy. Farmers are wondering what Besigye is talking about. That prices have gone up is good for them.

This Besigye man during campaigns said the government has brought down the commodity prices. Now the agricultural commodity prices have gone up, he is complaining! What sort of person is Besigye? But anyway, that is Besigye. He does not make any sense to people who are serious. Yes, food prices have gone up but this is temporary because the rain is coming. So the problem of inflation will come down. In the long run, the solution to all this fluctuation is irrigation which we shall embark on in the 3rd or 4th year of the new government. We will first deal with electricity and want to increase the supply to 3,800 megawatts by 2016. Then work on the roads before launching irrigation.

Fuel is coming from abroad. In the next 2-3 years, we shall have our own fuel coming from Lake Albert. But up to now we are importing. I hear the price of a barrel of oil has gone to $135 (about Shs300,000). If you add on transport, by the time a litre of petrol gets to Eldoret, Kenya, it is about Shs2,300 per litre of crude petrol. Then you add other costs on the way, plus a small Shs850 tax of government. Now I hear a litre of petrol is Shs3,500. You can see that much of that is before Eldoret. The tax on diesel is smaller; Shs530 per litre.

Some people are saying we remove the tax. First of all the tax is small; it is not the main cost. Besides we need tax money to build those roads and develop the country. And we cannot subsidise consumption. When you get people who subsidise consumption, then you know that those people are headed for trouble. What I would call upon the public is to use sparingly some of this resource. Don’t drive going to bars… Therefore; the consumer must be sensitive and responsible for their personal budget. If things are expensive, then use less.

Now Besigye says he is going to demonstrate against inflation? Will the world prices go down because Besigye has demonstrated? We are going to deal with him; there will be no demonstration in Kampala. He will not. If you want to demonstrate, work with the police and they say; ‘pass here.’ The problem is that Besigye does not want to coordinate with the police. He wants to hold demonstrations without reference to anybody. If you come and demonstrate in my farm here, I will spear you.

We are seeing increasing neo-colonialism lately in Africa. The West is pushing out Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi from power. What is your comment on this development?
Europeans and Americans intervening militarily in Africa is a new phenomenon. Our immediate reaction was when our African Union Peace and Security Committee, of which Uganda is not a member, met in Addis Ababa before the UN Security Council March resolution was passed on Libya, opposed the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya.
However, African countries (South Africa, Guinea and Nigeria) voted at the UN in favour of the resolution. When I spoke to President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, he told me that they voted for the resolution to put pressure on Gaddafi.
But when the Western countries started bombing Libya instead of concentrating on protecting civilians, then the Africans got together. So the present position of African Union is ceasefire in Libya, then talks. I have had a lot of problems with Gaddafi but when it comes to foreigners interfering in the affairs of Africa without the permission of the African Union, I cannot support it. The position of Africa is; leave Libya to the Libyans to solve.

Tabu Butagira, Daily Monitor: Mr President, I am impressed you are encouraging dialogue in Libya. You worked in the past very closely with Dr Besigye; he was your personal physician in the bush. Why is it impossible for you, the two principals, to sit and talk so we don’t have this unnecessary tension and deaths during demonstrations?

Discuss with Besigye what? What are we going to discuss? Discuss what now? May be you could give me the idea. What politics? We don’t want to form a coalition government with Besigye because I have got too many NRM people to deal with. We are the majority in Parliament.
So discuss what now? Possibly, there is already an Inter-party forum created so that if there are some issues like how to organise elections, or things which affect all the parties, we can discuss them in that forum. (A journalist interjects: but both of you don’t attend). But I am the one who launched it in 2006. I can attend it any time; it is attended by the parties’ secretary-generals. I can attend; there is no problem at all. But we cannot discuss politics. What we can discuss are some national issues, for instance, oil, government funding political parties, Somalia, et cetera. But bilateral discussions between NRM and FDC parties; I don’t see what that would be because we don’t want to form an alliance with FDC. What would the discussion be about?

Tabu Butagira, Daily Monitor: Since September 2009 pro-Kabaka riots, followed by the Kasubi Tombs burning riots in March 2010 and again on Thursday in Gulu District, people have died allegedly of gunshot wounds. But there is no prosecution and a culture of impunity is developing among the armed forces because they know they won’t be punished. Does it worry you that perhaps when you are no longer the president, you could be prosecuted for the deaths of civilians since you are the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces?
I doubt very much, Mr Butagira, that in the world, that there is any group that is as accountable as NRM. Because since we came from the bush, we have condemned 123 soldiers to death because of killing civilians. I doubt if anybody has got such a record in the world. The Kasubi riots you are talking about, we don’t know who actually shot people. Because of the indiscipline of some people it is not easy to know who shot. That is what happens when you create this type of situation.
Museveni being worried about being prosecuted afterwards, I can see myself getting Nobel Peace Prize for managing the country, especially the army, very well.

Maurice Mugisha, NTV Uganda. On the demonstrations in Kampala, I would like to pick your mind is it really just about the food and fuel prices or is there another plan by the opposition.
I think it is more about the bankruptcy of the opposition. Because what other plan (chuckles)? (A journalist suggests mass uprising to topple the government). Aaaaaaaah! We had elections, the opposition lost. You think you can change that by anything else? There is no other plan. If they had other plan, it is an idiotic plan. It will never work. I always read this rubbish in the intelligence reports – that Besigye is planning this, Besigye is planning that. He is planning nothing, nothing, bure, bure bure (Kiswahili word for nothing). It is not possible, theirs is idiocy.
For us we shall deal with it for you because you entrusted us, very capable hands, to deal with that idiocy. It is true they are using any pretext to cause trouble but to cause trouble for nothing.
Unfortunately, you the media become accomplices. You are giving live coverage to Besigye’s idiocy as if it was a football match. That encourages some of those shallow people to think that this is the way forward. His plans are like unfertilised eggs.

Shifa Mwesigye, The Observer: What is your reaction on the brutal way in which the police handled the public; picking them from their homes and tear-gassing school children, and shooting at a pregnant woman (Brenda Nalwendo)?
I need to study each case; I haven’t studied it very carefully. Was this pregnant woman in the demonstration? (Journalists say she was going for antenatal checkup and got trapped). The police and I are preoccupied with controlling Besigye from passing through crowded places where 300 people move with him – of course he has no control over them - and they begin stealing things other people are selling.
That is why we have politely begged these people; if you want to demonstrate agree with the people so that we can see which route to pass.
Of course, some of these police may also be indisciplined. I have given orders to everyone to know what to do. Why do you follow somebody if they have gone into their houses? Leave them. Unless you saw somebody killing someone and in this case you follow to arrest him.
In Gulu District, three people were killed because the police there were not prepared and the army that came in is not used to this type of civilian issues and that is how we ended up losing some people. But we are going to be ready everywhere in the country to stop this nonsense.

You saw the embarrassing way in which former Ivory Coast President Laurent Ggabgo was ousted and picked from his home. What is your reaction to that? Doesn’t it worry you?

The issue of Ivory Coast is a complicated story because there are long-standing conflicts between some political groups in the North and South. I have not been following it myself until when I went to South Africa, just before the February 18 election, when President Zuma briefed me because he was on that committee. It was clear that this was a complicated situation, it wasn’t so simple.
Eventually the AU committee which was involved recognised Alassane Ouattara as the one who had won the election. They recommended that he leads the formation of a government of national unity. Before that happened then the French came in (and) I have not known how they came in or under whose authority they came.
Foreign troops coming into Africa without the permission of the AU is not accepted. We are going to deal with it. Because when it happened in the past, the results were always negative.
Can the European troops go and intervene in Africa? No, they will not. Because we will not allow it and if they want another Vietnam, they will get it.
My reaction is it will stop. We defeated colonialism in the past, and this one also will be defeated. So those traitors who are banking on that, they would rather get something more useful for themselves to do.

Grace Matsiko, AFP: Could you give us a background to the acquisition of the Shs1.7 trillion fighter jets and have they arrived in the country yet?
The second-hand planes we have been buying and overhauling have got a limited range. Like the other time we went to operate against Joseph Kony’s LRA rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we could not reach him quickly. That’s how he survived and fled. So we acquired the jet fighters for two reasons; complete our plan for a smaller but better equipped army which we started in 1991, and secondly to give ourselves a better capacity so that we have a longer arm. You think it is a bad idea? Peace is the foundation for the economy to grow. Thirdly, because this is new equipment, we are now going on holiday, we are not going to buy new equipment for the next 20 years.

Daniel arap-Moi, WBS TV: Parliament last week exonerated your key ministers implicated in the Chogm scam and the media quoted you as directing the Prime Minister to punish these people. No action has been taken. What is your take on the talk that your government has no political will to fight corruption?
I only fight wars I am clear about. I could see there were some suspicious things but there was no proof. My original advice to these people who are involved was that why don’t you leave the investigations to IGG? But because people were fighting political wars so that the one you hate politically is smeared, they continued. That political ‘shadow-boxing’ has now concluded with nothing. If some money was stolen, is it the work of Parliament to investigate? Why not get the professionals such as the IGG, accountants and the police to catch the thief properly. It is just a circus. The IGG will continue (with the Chogm investigations) and if the IGG finds out; you will see what I am going to do.

Joshua Mmali, BBC: The Activists for Change group is promising to push with the demonstrations every Monday and Thursday?
(Museveni interrupts: Activists for Change; what change according to you BBC?)
Mmali: Maybe you could ask them, Your Excellency. But how exactly are you going to deal with them because they are going to carry on with the campaign?
No, they will not. The law of Uganda will stop them. If they think they will change the government of Uganda unconstitutionally, are you one of the witnesses to prove that? If you are a witness, I can even charge you with the offence of misprision of treason. If you want to demonstrate peacefully, inform the police. But there will be no illegal demonstrations.

Siraje Kalyango, BBC Kiswahili. It is said your May 12 swearing-in ceremony will cost Shs3b and if that is true, why don’t you do a simple ceremony at Parliament?
Parliament has approved Shs3 billion but I have told some people to tell me if we really need all that three billion. If we don’t, then we shall use less, save and do something else. But I have invited quite a number of African leaders. This is just not for ceremony; this is for business.

So you can call that swearing-in “economic swearing-in” (laughs heartily). You are just talking about things you don’t know. If only you could have some little humility and know that there are also some intelligent people somewhere who plan things, you could save yourself a lot of trouble. Since we hosted Chogm in 2007, I think we are now earning something like $1 billion from Tourism annually.

You think when I bring foreigners, I bring them to only look at them? It is business. These people are the ones who control decisions in their country – when they come, we discuss politics and business. When a man like Museveni is chairing a meeting, this man is not known to be an idiot (chuckles). But somebody comes, talks as if all the other people are fools except himself! Hmmnnn! Be careful! But of course these bureaucrats can use it (swearing-in budget) to put something here and there which is not necessary and I totally agree. That is why I told Parliament you study it quietly; do not go to the newspapers.

Halima Othman, Uganda Radio Network: As President, does it concern you that we don’t have fuel and food reserves unlike in the past?
Uganda has financial reserves which are easier to look after than grain reserves because grain reserves, there is a cost involved in keeping it. If it became absolutely necessary to buy food, we would buy it. There are people who are arguing that we should interfere with the export of food to neighbouring countries, which is a wrong argument because it will suppress us, we the farmers.
That means you will deny us selling to all these buyers in the region and you will make us your slaves to keep selling to you the ones in Kampala only. This will turn Ugandan farmers into ‘captives’ - that we only sell food to these Kampala people who are playing matatu (cards). That will discourage farming.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Rebecca & Ryan Build a Basketball Court Part 2

So the space behind the volleyball net is going to be where the court is going

These are the types of hopes we want to install at the court. They are sturdy and wel supported though they will not have springs. They will be the first things to go into the ground once we start construction.

We are going to do layered court building - rock foundation, compressed dirt, cement and then tarmac. We are going to use (hopefully) a 2 - 4 inch fine aggregate base tarmac like above.

Court with curbing.

This is what happens to a court that does have curbing around it unlike the first picture. Our court will have a curing built a little lower then the court surface.

Ryan and my's argument for a chain link net because the cost upfront is more, but up keep is less - argument was accepted!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Live Like a PCV Challenge!

Some Peace Corps Volunteers have gotten together to form a fun project that shows the rest of the world how people and mainly PCV's can live in their host countries. The goal of this project is to raise awareness of Peace Corps in America and give those participating in the Challenge a small taste of Peace Corps life, hopefully while having some fun. PCVs in Kenya adapted the challenge to reflect realities of serving in Kenya. The challenge celebrates our 50th anniversary while at the same time addressing our 3rd goal. Perhaps the only things missing from this challenge, things that are extremely difficult to replicate in other settings, are the inherent benefits of service- the sense of accomplishment in mastering your new language, the joy of making a new friend in spite of massive cultural differences, the beauty of the environments in which we serve… Nevertheless, this is a great activity for stimulating discussion about how two-thirds of the world lives.

The Challenge: Kenyan Rules

For one week you are asked to give up some of the everyday conveniences that we PCVs and our communities do without. The levels are arranged from more common to less common living conditions of PCVs in Kenya while also taking into account the difficulty of completing the challenge in the US. So while none of us here have a car, it ranks quite high in the challenge as it is much more difficult to do without one in the states. Kenya is known for its beautiful safaris in which you can spot the “The Big Five” animals, for which we’ve named our levels (they are in order of rareness in the Mara).

  • First, decide which month you want to participate. The first week of the month you choose (the 1st-7th) will be when you need to forgo certain items.
  • Next, look through the list below and decide which one of the five levels of difficulty you want to take on, and which items you will abstain from (although your items may come from multiple difficulty levels you are only trying to complete one level, the most difficult you think you can manage).
  • Finally, let us know that you’ve taken up the challenge by completing the Accept the Challenge section of the general “Live Like a PCV” at Live Like A PCV
Lion: Difficulty Level I

(choose two)

  • Forgo the use of the microwave.
  • No checks, no debit cards or credit cards, cash only all week.
  • No washing machine or dish washers - plus you must attempt laundry by hand once. (Let’s be honest you probably have enough clothes to easily go a week without washing.)
  • Cook dinner by candlelight.
  • Keep a journal or write a handwritten letter to a friend about your experiences this week.
Buffalo: Difficulty Level II

(choose two plus one item from Level I)

  • No television (This includes Hulu and Adult Swim online, they are not available outside the US)--You can listen to the radio and read local newspapers.
  • Baths or showers allowed only every other day- You can wash yourself at the sink with a cloth each day.
  • No fast food, no restaurants (this includes coffee places, bars, and delivery).
  • Internet only every other day. (You can use the internet for your job but you're on the honor system here.)
  • Start and finish a book this week.
  • Buy your fruits and vegetables for the week locally.
  • Wild Animals! You can't leave your yard between 7:30 PM and 6:30 AM unless accompanied by 3 or more people.
Elephant: Difficulty Level III

(choose two plus one item from Level II or two items from Level I)

  • You can use your toilet but you must manually fill the tank or do a bucket flush. (Turn off the water to the toilet.)
  • Lack of temperature control - No heater or air conditioner in your car.
  • Greet everyone you know with a handshake and genuine questions about their family, home, and health.
  • You can only use one burner on your stove and no oven.
  • Ration your water to only 10 gallons a day. This includes cooking, drinking, bathing, and washing clothes.
  • Teach someone the 4 ways the HIV virus is transmitted.
Leopard: Difficulty Level IV

(choose two plus one item from Level III, or two items from Level II, or three items from Level I)

  • Reduced living space. You may only use your living room, bathroom and kitchen.
  • Bathe only once this week. (You may wash yourself with a cloth at the sink each day.)
  • No driving. You can use public transport, bicycle, and walking.
  • Internet one day this week. (Again, you can use it for your work only.)
  • Power outage. Throw a dice (6 sides) every day for how many hours you will be without power sometime between 5.00pm -11.00pm (turn off your power breakers).
Rhino: Difficulty Level V

(choose one item from each Level)

  • No running water from your house, you must go fetch it from somewhere else (a neighbor’s house is fine).
  • No English for the entire week. (You can speak English at work only.)
  • You can’t use any toilet in your house, you must go somewhere else or improvise.
  • No refrigerator.
  • Spend the whole weekend in one room of your house. Using no electricity - you are allowed 3 books and the battery life of your computer (no recharging).
Questions for Reflection:
  • How did you find this challenge- difficult? Easier than you had anticipated?
  • What surprised you about participating in this challenge?
  • What did this challenge teach about how people in developing countries live?

PLEASE take the time to do this at home if you can! It is a great experience to have and I would love to hear your stories at some point!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rebecca & Ryan Build a Basketball Court - Part 1

I'm so excited to say that my proposal to build a MUWRP funded basketball court at the Youth Center has been accepted and we have started the process of building a standard size court in the back lawn of the Youth Center. Ryan Luckie, who is a health volunteer from my August 2010 group, is a civil engineer and he is partnering with me and my work for the project. I feel so lucky to have him on board because he is going to make sure that the court is being built properly and will last for a long time without needing improvements right off the bat.

This past Tuesday we went around and looked at five different basketball courts in Kampala and Mukono District to figure out what we wanted our court to look like and names of contractors who we could start getting building quotes from. After looking at the courts Ryan and I put together a scope document to give to the contractors who are bidding for the project to let them know what we are expecting from them throughout this whole process. Between the scope and the blue prints we have enough of an idea of what we want to start the bidding process this upcoming week! I will make sure ot keep you all informed about how the process goes!

Peace Corps Uganda 50th Anniversary Service Day and Reception

So this past Friday was Peace Corps Uganda 50th Anniversary Celebration in Lweza, Uganda. Myself, Dave, Lisa and Matt worked very hard to pull off this event and I am super duper happy to report that the event was a success!

The day started off with a kick - off tea where the 120 PCV's, numerous staff and a few Returned PCV's who live in Uganda came for the beginning of the days festivities. Around 9am we walked down to both of the schools where the Service Day was taking place.

Throughout the day the PCV's worked very hard on 9 different service projects. One of the first projects was a student mural that accompanied the idea of 'peace' with the phrase Happy Are The Peacemakers written across the top. The phrasing was donated to the project from the school's headmaster who was absolutely thrilled at all the projects taking place at his school. We had many PCV's who worked on this project, but most importantly the 350 students all got to lend a hand at painting!

PCV's also painted three massive rooms and cleaned the walls. They painted two dorms and one classroom. Another project was to help keep their school's campus clean by implementing a waste management program as well as a compost by their kitchen. Not only did the PCV's work with every student to create a waste bin for each grade level, but also the students got to learn about waste management and the importance of keep their Earth clean.

Speaking of keeping the Earth clean - another group of super ambitious PCV's worked at the second school during the day building a rocket stove for the school cook. A rocket stove usually isn't that big - the two openings are usually big enough for one medium sized pot and one small pot, but this one was built with a 54 inch diameter - which is huge! Kudos to Jill who lead the team to build this amazing stove.

There were also PCV's who worked with the students on sport skills surrounding the ever popular game of football. They taught the children how to properly stretch, different football drills and finally they just got the chance to play around the pitch whether it was football, tag or random shenanigans. We also had a life skils group that worked with all the students on gender equality issues, early sex and the problems it brings. We also taught them how to make their own paint so they could make their own life story books. The day was amazing and all the projects were completed.

Probably my favorite project to watch during the day was the construction of a Peace Garden in the middle of the school grounds. The headmaster of the school wanted a safe place for children to sit in the shade and also quietly study or meet with their teachers. Dave and I bought all the materials for this project, but mainly let the project manager, my friend Alexi, and his crew come up with the plan of the garden themsleves. A RPCV who was at the Service Day Event, Annie, kindly donated a bunch of bricks which ended up making the boarder of the walking path. They did an amazing job with the space and made the campus that much more beautiful.

I spent most of the morning with Dave helpign to organize the volunteers and the project managers so they could have a productive day. The rest of the volunteer day I spent taping the projects and organizing the pictures into a video that was shown at the reception and be found here.

That night all the PCV's got dressed up and headed to Lubowa Gardens which is a swanky African hotel in the town of Lubowa between Kampala and Lweza (where we had the Service Day). Once at the reception people were able to get drinks and mingle with the other PCV's, RPCV's and peace Corps Staff that were in attendance. We started off the night with the showing of the video that I made which was received with much enthusiasm. I was very proud of the way it turned out in such a short amount of time that I had to complete it in. Then we had four speakers: Herbert the Luganda langauge instructor spoke to the crowd about how Peace Corps has affected his life for the better over the past 10 or so years. He said that it has helped him become a better teacher and learn more about himself as an educator, his Ugandan culture and American culture. Then Jan, our Programing and Training Officer who is acting Country Director when our CD is out of the country (which side note: he wasn't there!), spoke to us about the history of Peace Corps and how she is proud to be a part of Peace Corps Uganda.

I got a chance to speak letting all the PCV's know how proud I was (and still am) to be a part of their group and the amazing things that they all do at their sites. I also had the honor of speaking on behalf of Director Williams, the Director of the Peace Corps, to relay the message he sent to Peace Corps Uganda in honor of the Service Day Event. Below is his message:

"Although we've come a long way since 1960, our journey is not complete. As long as there is suffering and strife in the world, we know that our work is not done. It's a timeless idea - as vibrant today as it was half a century ago. The passion and the hope, the empathy and the enthusiasm - what motivated Volunteers in the 1960's still moves Volunteers today. And my great hope is that this vision will remain forever young, embodied in the idealism of University of Michigan students, and college students across our great country and in the spirit of older Americans too... like Muriel, in Morocco, who said I have the rest of my life to relax. Right now is a good time to make a difference." I envision a Peace Corps that grows and adapts to the challenges and opportunities of our time. In this, our 50th anniversary year, we honor our past and continue to advance our mission of world peace and friendship through education and engagement. Thank you for being an integral part in helping the Peace Corps continue the important work it has been privileged to do for the last 50 years. This towering task, that is the Peace Corps, still calls us to action. Let's see what we can build together in the years to come."

Dave, my partner in crime for planning this event, also spoke and finished up the speeches with his own personal addition. I thought it was very well wrote (it comes from a late night group effort from Matt, Lisa, Dave and myself) and it can be found here.

The rest of the night went on until 2am with dancing, drinking adn catching up with PCV's we all don't always get the chance to see. It was a wonderful event and I felt so privileged to be able to help plan it and watch all the amazing things my fellow PCV's completed throughout the day.

This day was on that I'll never forget and makes Peace Corps for sure the thoughest job I will ever love.