Wednesday, August 4, 2010

a fresh start

Monday, I finally made my move away from Rwenjeru Campsite. The people whom I had lived with were all quite surprised to see the Peace Corps truck pulling up. They quickly set to work trying to make tea and set up a nice little outdoor meeting area to show the PC staff some hospitality, having no clue the real reason for their arrival.

I was given the option to attend the meeting where the truth would out, and PC would tell about their discovery of the corruption and their decision to remove me from the site. Looking back, I feel like I should have definitely been there, but at the time I declined to attend. I felt more nauseous than I can ever remember feeling. I just couldn't face them. Also not in attendance was Enock, who, in typical fashion, had left town for a one night trip to Kampala about a week or so ago. I elected, instead, to put all of my belongings into the truck. 90 seconds later I was all packed up and ready to go, but the meeting continued to drag on.

I knew they would try to contest the decision, and they did. I was told after that every one of them claimed to have been ignorant to what Enock had done, and each one of them severely condemned the actions despite the fact that everyone in attendance was related to the man (including his father and grandfather). Peace Corps, however, was not there to have an open dialog. They were fed up with the way things had gone from day one, and their decision was final. They told the members of the campsite that even if they had been ignorant, Enock was a representative of the campsite, and his actions were recognized as such. If I had continued to work there, it would be a serious compromise of both Peace Corps' and my own integrity. When the meeting eventually let out, they all came over to shake my hand, apologize for what had happened, and to wish me luck. I could see that some of them were crying.

By all rights, my time at Rwenjeru was absolutely awful. I spent my first two months living in a bare apartment with nothing to do and no one to talk to. The next three weeks I was happy to move into my new place, but I was hardly doing anything constructive. That was then followed by about three more weeks of dealing with the corruption issue and being forced to essentially live a lie. In my time there I saw alcoholism, laziness, corruption, and sexism taken to degrees I had never dreamed I would see. And yet, despite all of that, leaving that day was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I knew what a crushing blow it was to the dreams of the campsite, and to each one of the members personally.

After a one night stop in Kampala, the truck brought me to my new site here in the village of Kisoga in Mukono District. Despite the effect leaving Rwenjeru had on me, I feel like a weight has been lifted from my chest, and I am ready to start anew. I will be working in conjunction with the local Catholic Church doing whatever projects they and I feel will help the people. That sounds very vague, but they already have some ideas in place, and I can tell I will be more than busy during my service here. I'll have more details about what I am doing and how everything is going later. Even now, completely removed from Rwenjeru, I still feel badly about the way things turned out, but I am trying to concentrate on moving forward, and I know things will be better for me here.

*** Note ***
My new village doesn't have cell phone reception from my old provider so I had to switch back to my old number for now. You can find it to the right side of the screen under Contact Info.

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