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:
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.