Friday, December 18, 2009


I am currently working with the Millennium Villages Project in Ruhiira Uganda. This is part of the UNDP and partners with the Earth Institute at Columbia University. From what I understand, MVP is headed by none other than Professor Jeffery Sachs (From Columbia University if I am not mistaken). For those of you who have not read his book “The End of Poverty” and William Easterly’s book “White Man’s Burden” let me give you a quick synopsis so that this post makes sense.

Both books argue for their respective approaches to international development. If I was to summarize the argument of Sachs’ book into one phrase it would be “more money”. His main argument is that the west is not giving enough money in aid to developing countries and that if we would just give more money, then we could end poverty. A phrase summary of Easterly’s book would be “reevaluate our approach”. He argues against Sachs (his book is a rebuttal of Sachs) and says that the west has given billions upon billions of dollars and not much has been accomplished. He says we need to reevaluate our approach and try to figure out how to spend aid money better rather than just spend more of it. I side with Easterly.

Now, MVP and Sachs do a lot of good. It does spend a lot of money, and I can see the benefits of it here in this village of Ruhiira. The people told me that before MVP came, there were no roads, now there are roads connecting all the villages in the MVP area (the MVP area is actually a number of villages but Ruhiira is the main village in the area). MVP has built a health clinic, provides an ambulance, sponsors a micro credit organization, and has employed people in its offices, the health clinic, as researchers, etc to just name a few. It is also helping the people save money and the environment through distribution of stoves that use less wood and emit less smoke. MVP is doing this in villages throughout the world which is quite miraculous. So, I guess more money and a systematic plan can help development; however, what happens when MVP pulls out? This is where I have a problem with Sachs’ approach.

Yes, MVP is doing a great work here and improving people’s lives. People have especially raved about the ambulance and the stoves (and they have to purchase the stoves, we are not giving them out for free). However, if I understand right, I think MVP was originally supposed to pull out in 2011, but the head office in NY just approved for them to remain until 2015 or 2016 (I can’t remember exactly). The problem: who can take over and continue the project. The idea is that the government will take over, but that is not likely. The government is riddled with corruption and does not have the funds to continue this project. One example of the unlikelihood of the government taking over and running it well is the following: MVP has tried to help the government get its ambulance working again (in addition to the one that MVP has provided). The government ambulance has not been working because it got a flat tire, so MVP stepped in and fixed it. Is the ambulance in use now? No. Why? The government has to send someone out to inspect it to make sure its running properly before they allow it to go out and work. That’s fine, but they say it has to be someone from Kampala (not Mbarara, even though I am sure they could find someone in the local government that could do this task). It has been months and they haven’t sent anyone even though MVP keeps nagging them. So, the government did not even have to FIX the ambulance; they only had to INSPECT it, but they can’t even do this. So, the government does not seem to think that an additional ambulance is much of a priority nor can it organize to send someone out here (one would think the MP from this constituency would lobby for this but either this had not happened or it hasn’t been successful), so why would they be willing and organized enough to take over this extremely involved project? I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but I just can’t see the Ugandan government taking over on this one. This is extremely unfortunate because it does do a lot of good.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Some of my friends back in Provo, Utah say that I am a black woman because of my stance on many gender and race issue, and this post will probably only confirm this perception.

So my coworkers Gaby (Venezuelan), Jacob (that is not his real name, but he is Ugandan), and I were having lunch and Jacob brings up the subject of gender because he knows that Gaby is a feminist (and he soon learned that I am too).

He begins by telling me that I should marry an African girl because they're "better" and Gaby wanted to know why they're better. After probing him a bit, it came down to this: he thinks African women are better because, unlike muzungu (white) women, they don't want more rights, they are submissive, and they know their place. He didn't say it in so many words but that was the gist.

He then went on to explain that the reason divorce is so common in the west is because women have rights and they can divorce for no reason at all. So, we asked him what he wants for his daughter (who just had her first birthday): Is she got married and then her husband began to abuse her, does he 1) want her to get divorced because her husband beats her and she hates her life, so then she can be happy and take control of her own life OR does he 2) want her to be married to this man for the rest of her life just because divorce is bad. He said that abuse to an extent is tolerable. I then asked, where he draws the line, and he couldn't answer. I was shocked that a dad would even say that he tolerates abuse to an extent because my dad told my sisters’ future husbands that if they abused his daughters in any way he would kill them (I imagine his exact words would have been “. . . I will rip your head of and shit down the hole!”). I understand and know that people feel this way, but for someone I know and work with, that is educated to say these things so bluntly too me by surprise.

He also mentioned a recent case in the ugandan news were a woman killed a man and she admits she did it, but that it was in self defense because he was trying to rape her. Jacob complained that the "feminist" groups came out and supported her without waiting to see if her story was true, but he says that she needs to be held responsible because we don't know (and can't know) if he really did. I agree that she needs to be tried, but on the premise of innocent until proven guilty (which I believe the Ugandan judicial system works on), and not the other way round! He was annoyed with the feminists coming so quickly to her aid but he was going so quickly to the man's aid: was he not doing the exact same thing as them? Also, given the ridiculously high rate of rape here, her story is very likely to be true.

In short, I think women’s education and empowerment are important for the well being for women, children and men. If half of a society is not allotted the same rights and opportunities, then you can be sure that country will not be able to progress and develop. Not to mention that because women are second class citizens in many countries their quality of life is as such.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Living in Ruhiira

As mentioned before, I am currently working in Mbarara which is a small town which is just a bit bigger than Idaho Falls; Mbarara has about 70,000 people in it but it is really spread out. The main office is in Mbarara, but I am conducting a survey in the nearby (about 45 minute drive away) village of Ruhiira. The field office in Ruhiira has about a dozezn rooms behind it for people to stay in, so I have spent a few nights there (no electricity and it gets dark at 7 pm, so not a whole lot to do at night) and I love it there!

The country side is beautiful! It is beautiful rolling green hills with banana plantations in every valley! Here are some pictures:

This is the road to the "restaurant" called FangFang (I know, Chinese name, but it is not Chinese at all!). On the right, you can see the health clinic built by the Millennium Village Project (MVP). Look at the beautiful rolling hils!!!

This is Ruhiira central. You can see the bodas (motorcycle taxis) under the tree. That is the boad stage as they call it. Then on the left, there is a house that is actually another "restuarant" and then next to that house, the taller building is the MVP office.

House amongst the banana trees. This place is covered in banana plantations!

Besides the beauty, it is really relaxing. The people are chill and you just go with the flow. If you are late, no worries, people understand. There is room to breath and think out there! It is such a relief from the crazy go go go of life! Everyone is really kind and the people that work in the office and the enumerators I have been training this past week are really cool! Genuinely kind and considerate people. Not that the people in the cities are not, but there is just something about being in the country!

Also: awesome food! All the fruits and veggies are as fresh as can be: I have had the best bananas, tomatoes, and avocadoes in my life in the past week! And it is dirt cheap! I can eat a whole meal for 800 Ugandan Shillings at the local restaurant which is like $0.42! Of course it is beans and matooke (which is a certain variety of not-sweet- banana that is boiled and mashed into a really heavy mound of yellow on your plate) but I love it! I really do. The matooke here is so fresh!

Bus ride to Mbarara

About 5 hours after running the marathon, I had to catch a bus from Kampala to Mbarara which was probably not the most wise idea but had to be done. I have been working in Mbarara ever since and I really miss my friends and home in Kampala. This bus ride is basically hell. It takes about 5 hours (but should only take 3) on dirt and pot hole ridden roads. These buses, which make greyhound seem like it has the luxury of a limousine. They are all rattling to pieces as they drive 75+ miles per hour on these crazy roads (which are only wide enough for one car at times). I sat in the back once and when we went over a bump, I seriously went 2 feet off my seat! Also, they never stop for bathroom breaks, the bus will stop every once in a while and let people relieve themselves in whoever’s banana plantation that is on the side of the road. Awesome right!

I have made this trip three times and this most recent trip was particularly noteworthy. We were driving along and then had to stop because there was a car accident blocking the road. So we waited, and then the police moved the car but then because people drive really aggressively here, everyone converged on the opening that was left, and so no one moved for another 15 – 20 minutes: awesome again. Then, the guy in the seat behind me started shouting in whatever language and it sounded like a chant and I thought he was praying. Then he would shift to English and chat the Lord’s name over and over, so I knew he must be praying. Then everyone around us started laughing, so I asked the guy next to me what this other guy was doing, and he said that the guy was praying in tongues, and that he was also praying in Runyonkole to caste satan out because satan has caused the confusion around the accident. Pretty exciting. Then this same man later got in an argument with the other men around and every time he said anything he would shout right into my ear, (not a lot of room between rows of seats in these buses) and pound the back of my seat: awesome, once again!

One really cool thing though is that along the route there are people that sell BBQed plantain, BBQed corn on the cob, water, sodas, boiled/fried grasshoppers (when in season), and meet kababs. I really only eat the first two items.

Anyway, riding a bus, although really really cheap, is not the most ideal way of travel in this country.

Running 26 miles = not good for ones body :)

I ran the MTN Kampala Marathon on 22 November 2009. It is actually an Olympic qualifying race in East Africa which basically means that there were some really awesome athletes there. There were 10s of thousands of people; it was a mad house.

First, I arrived late to the race which is quite ironic because I am not the one this is supposed to be working on “African Time”. From living in South Africa and Uganda, I have become accustomed to what people call “African Time” which is a lot more lax than any other time system I know of. Nearly everything starts late and people use terms such as Now (which can be anything between 30 minutes and 2 hours), Just Now (which is basically whenever I feel like it), and Now Now (which means in the next like 15 minutes) to tell you when they will arrive for a meeting or something. Also, if someone here says they will come at 2 pm then you can expect them to get there about 3/3:30 but don’t be surprised if they don’t show up until 5 pm. So, me, the one who gets frustrated with African Time at times was actually working on African Time the one time things start EARLY! I was shocked. So I get to the race and realize that my race has already started, so I run to the starting line (as if running 26 miles was not enough, I added a few yards onto it). So, I had to play catch up.

Near the beginning, a big group of very fit men and women wizzed past me, and I realized that I had started so late, that the half marathoners (which were supposed to start 15 minutes after the marathon started) were passing me.

I ran really well for about the first 20 miles and then I realized “I am running but could speed walk just as fast”, so I did (seriously, it was like my legs were made of concrete and I was barely moving them one in front of the other). I admit, from about the 20 mile mark, I walked, sped walked, and ran on and off, but I did run the last half mile into the finish line cause I of course could not be seen walking to the finish line.

So, in short, I need to train harder next time (if there is a next time). And it really took quite a toll on my body. About 1 hour after finishing the race I was eating everything in sight and my body ached for the next 3 days and I still have bruises on my toes :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I once again suck at blogging

So remember when it has been over a month since I have blogged? I remember.

Work has been a little bit slow. The NGO that we are partnering with has been having some budget issues and we are waiting for the donors to sign the next installment. Thus, we have no funds to conduct any more workshops or do our constituency research.

However, my boss at Columbia has another project he is working on with the Millennium Villages Project (MVP part of the UNDP) in Ruhiira which is a village just about 20 km from the Tanzania border. The MVP project is the UN's attempt at development. They have selected villages all over the developing world and are trying this development scheme in an effort to understand what development approaches used in these villages is exportable.

The aspect I am working on is stove distribution. MVP has some stoves that reduce the amount of wood needed to cook as well as reduces the carbon gases that are emitted. So, the stoves will save the family time and money (gathering and purchasing wood) and will help the environment (less gas emissions and less wood will be burned; this area of the country is suffering from a huge wood shortage; sometimes people have food but starve because there is no wood or any other way to cook the food).

We are running an experiment to see if local “ambassadors” are effective in marketing the stoves. I will end the explanation there because any further explaining has the potential to bore many. My role in the whole thing is running a buyers/non-buyers survey to assess why some buy and other don’t.

This is very interesting because there are a lot of issues surrounding the purchase of these stoves. One is the gender issues.

The biggest issue is that the stoves benefit women because they are the ones that gather wood and cook. However, men control the money, so if a woman wants to buy a stove, her husband has to approve, and this is much easier said than done. Also, men will only see an economic incentive to purchasing the stove if their household purchases rather than gathers wood. If the household gather’s wood (when I say household I actually mean the women in the home), then the household does not save money from buying less wood; the woman only saves time from gathering wood. Thus no direct economic benefit for men; therefore, we would see fewer homes buying stoves when the household gathers rather than purchases its wood.

This is a very interesting situation, and hopefully we will find something that can help us help as many households as possible get these stoves because it is actually a huge benefit to them, their community, and environment.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Quest to Get Chapatti and the Lack of the Capitalist Mindset

My housemate, Kate, and I went to get chapatti. Remember, chapatti is the amazing Ugandan tortilla that is one of the best flat breads I have ever put in my mouth.

Our house sits on a hill and if you go down the hill, it is slums on either side; this slum area is appropriately called "the go down". The go down has probably 8 chapatti stands, so we didn't think we would have any trouble getting a chapatti.

We went to the first stand. I walk up and say nothing, but the guy says "not yet" . . . not yet what? . . . i was really confused. So, I ask him what he is talking about, and he just repeats himself. So, i finally deduce, that although he has a table full of dough balls (that just need to be rolled flat and put on the hot plate), he is not currently making chapattis, even though he has a customer willing to buy them.

So, we go across the street (literally) and there are 2 guys frying up chapattis. We ask them for 6 chapattis and they say "yes, 3,000". Now 300 Ugandan Shillings is about $0.15, but the guy directly across the street and the other stands I have gone to sell chapatti for 200 which is about $0.10. So, the price difference is very small, but I hate being taken advantage of, so we say "no! we can get it for 200 just up the road" and walk away. They don't even stop us, even though they know we will get it for 200 elsewhere.

So, we go to another stand. Once again, this stand has rolled up dough that is ready to be rolled out and fried. There are 2 guys behind the counter and I make my order and they stare at me. From my experience here, when people don't understand you, they just stare. So, I repeat myself slower, and the guy says "It's over." And I was like, what!?!?! . . . He said "its over" as if he was breaking up with, but that couldn't be it. And the dough was there, so they can't be finished making chapattis . . . then finally the guy that I bought chapattis from last time I came to this stand showed up and said they would fry some up for us.

It was mind boggling that people at these shops were so unwilling to fry up chapattis. I mean, they are chapatti stands frist of all. Second, these things are really cheap, we are in a really poor area, and I doubt they get many orders that large. So, this should be a great opportunity to get some business and keep business from us. The capitalist mindset just really has not set in among the chapatti dealers of the Naguru go down of Kampala. Not to mention that once again, I am having communication breakdown left and right!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Riots in Kampala

Kampala erupted with fires, tires, road blocks, demonstrations, tear gas, and looting yesterday. Riots had started in a nearby town called Kyunga earlier this week, but have since moved to Kampala.

The issue is this: the Baganda tribe's king (kabaka) is trying to take a tour of the country (or just regions of the country). Now, the Baganda are the largest ethnic group in Uganda and is the vast majority in the central region which includes Kampala. However, there is a sub-ethnic group within the Baganda tribe called Banyara who actually want to have their own king and do not recognize the Baganda king as their king even though they are part of the Baganda tribe. So, this small group, which is being backed by the government (the government is in the business of divide and rule in order to maintain power), is preventing teh king from visiting these different areas. They and the police are blocking the King's way out of Kampala.

So, the Baganda people are rioting in order to break down the police barriers and allow the king to get through.

President Museveni (who is actually a dictator, not a democratically elected president althought that is what he says . . . Uganda is not a democracy really) is trying to meet with the king but he won't meat with him because the king cannot talk to commoners (Museveni is seen as a commoner and is actually not even Baganda but is Munyankole).

So, anyway, the riots continue and people are freaking out here. In fact in a suburb called Wandegeya, the rioters have taken control of a police post.

The most interesting thing it that teh government is making such a big deal about htis when most government leaders are Munyankole. This really is not their dispute, but they are strongly taking sides with the Banyara. This is not hte first time Museveni has done this. He has been slowly breaking apart the Baganda nation. He as already crowned kings of the Banyala, Baluli, and Sabakoki groups which were all sub-groups within Baganda. So, it seems that Museveni is trying to break down the Baganda tribe and thus weeken it. By doing that, he also gains support of those parts of the Baganda because he is the one that crowned their king and thus they will support him. I am guessing that Museveni sees the Baganda as the greatest threat to his power, so he is attacking them before they attack him. This is a very intersting mix of inter- and intra- ethnic politics and conflict.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Apt

So, I am now living in, what i think is, a really nice house. This is a many steps above La Fontein :) I am renting a room in a five bedroom house. There are 4 other Muzungus (white people) staying here with me. There is a girl named Elizabeth who just graduated from Duke Law School and is working with an organization that deals with ICC (international cirminal court) legislation and implimetnation. Sarah is from Minnesota a free lance journalist who wants to write some stuff on maternal health for the NYTimes. A girl named Daisy, from Germany, is moving in tomorrow. A girl named Kate is moving in this weekend and is a doctor from England and seems really really cool. And finally, Janet is a PH D student in Political Science from Harvard who is doing her dissertation research. Yes, I am the only guy, but what I have realized is that most people that come to Africa and do NGO and other type of development work are mostly women. but, here are a few pictures of my house; there are no poeple in them, so they are pretty lame, but I thought my mom might want to see what type of place I am staying at.

It is actually really nice because we have a guard that stays all night every night and then a lady that cleans, does the dishes, and does the laundry, and I have my own room all for just under $250 per month, eat that provo BYU housing!

Here is our front room . . . I know, our TV is sadly small :)

And the kitchern . . .

And this is my bedroom; it is the second biggest in the house since I have been here the second longest. Then, once Janet leaves, I will get the master bedroom with my own bathroom and office area for that same $250 price!

And of course, no Muzungu house in Uganda is compelte without its subtle, African tribute to Obama :) this beauty hangs in our dining room.

Dissemination Workshops

As part of my job, we are doing workshops where we present various constituencies throughout the country with the scorecard for their MP (member of parliament). We have these workshops in order to measure the impact of the scorecard on the voters. In these workshops, we present the scorecard and explain what it means. All the scores and grade we give are relative to other MPs, because otherwise i fear that too many would fail :) We also invite the MPs to come to these workshops to defend their actions and explain why they scored the way they did. We had our first workshop on August 21st and there were two MPs for this workshop and both of them came. The reason there were two MPs for this workshop is because there are different types of MPs: one type is the "universal adult suffrage" (UAS) MPs who are voted in as we woudl vote in Senators or Reps. Then there are Women MPs, and each district has a Woman MP, only a woman can hold this position, but all voters, both male and female, vote for them. So, this workshop was for the constituency UAS MP (Honorable Kawuma) and for the District Women MP (Honorable Seninde). And everyone addresses MPs with the titel "Honorable".

Anyway, the reason I tell you this, is because I had to do the methodology and results presentations. I had to explain how we came up with the scores and then what the scores mean. So, I was explaining that "Hon. Seninde got an F in constituency, which means that she performed worse than the average Women MP and the average MP from the Central Region . . ." needless to say, she was not very happy.

Niether of these MPs performed particularly well, but Kawuma was quite respectful and said things like "I will use this scorecard to strengthen my weaknesses" but Seninde was like "How could they give me an F!?!?! AFLI [the organization I work for] has no moral authority to judge me! It is you, the voters to judge!" It got pretty intense, but it was really fun and people seemed to support what we were doing. We are not out on a witch hunt, we are just trying to help the peopel see how their MPs are performing.

After the workshop, I was interveiwed by one of the TV stations and they aired it on TV the next night which was pretty cool.

Here are some pictures:

These are the two MPs (from left to right): Kawuma and Seninde. This is them while I was doing my presentation, she looks like she wants to rip my head off!

This is me presenting the methodology and results; behind me is our last minute way to post the large copies of the scorecard :) yeah, we were not that organized :)

Here I am using the make-shift pointer, and yes everyone laughed when I pulled it out to use :)

And here is Hon. Kawuma responding to his results

And here is Hon. seninde cussing AFLI and me out for giving her a bad score . . . if you want a better score then do your flippin job!

And here is a picture of past of the audience; we had about 160 peopel come, which was really cool.

Rafting the Nile

So, Uganda is home to the source of the Nile River (Lake Victoria), and there are some great rapids to be rafted!

I am staying in Kampala, Uganda, and the source of the Nile is in Jinga, Uganda which is about 1 hour away from Kampala (keeping in mind that my distance/time estimates are really crappy).

So, my friend Jeff and I went on Saturday and rafted the 30 kms!

It was freaking awesome. There were about 5 class 5 rapids and a lot of classes 2-4 (for anyone who does not know, there are 6 classes of rapids, with 5 being the biggest and 6 being so big that they are un-raft-able). The raft flipped like 5 times i think, but we did successfully ride 3 of the class 5's. We ashamedly flipped on a 2.5 . . . yeah, I don't know how that happened.

And unfortunately I did no put on enough sunscreen . . . I put on sunscreen like 3 different times throughout the day (and 30 spf at that), but I still got burned like i have never been burned before! I realized later that evening that I got so burned because my malaria pills make me sensitive to the sun: damn you malaria pills!

and don't worry, i don't have leprosy, I'm just burned like you wouldn't believe! And I will spare you a picture of my violently red thighs :)

I don't have any pictures of the rapids, but if you check out you tube for some cool footage of the rapids that I did. Just you tube "Nile River Explorers" or here are a couple that I thought were pretty good: and

Then, you can see and get a feel for the rapids that we did.

And here are some pictures of the Nile:

Beautiful place hey!

African Bureaucracy = Hell

This post is going to be long and full of my venting, so get ready!

So, I just got back to Uganda from South Africa, and it was a unnecessarily crazy and frustrating process to get my visa to Uganda:

I decided to do the visa in South Africa because the Immigration office in Kampala was giving me hell about getting a visa, so I thought it would be easier to do it in South Africa . . . boy was I wrong.

I had to go to the Ugandan Embassy in Pretoria (about 45 minutes from where I am working in Joburg) 3 times:

First Visit: I get to the office and try to submit my application; the time is 12:15 pm. The secretary looks at me and says: we're closed, you have to submit your application before 11:45. I look at her and her desk that has the applications that need to be processed, and I say "Can you just take mine? I can see the other applications." And then she acts like I just shot her and huffs over to take my application. She looks at the application and says, "Where is the attachment?" and I say "What attachment?". She then explains to me that I must have a letter of invitation from someone that I will be staying with (proof of a place to live while in Uganda) and a copy of my return plane ticket. I then explain to her that this is the second visa I have applied for and the first one (which is of the exact same type as the one I am currently applying for) did not require that. She then says that since I applied for the first one in the US, it is different because we are in South Africa. So, I leave it at that and then I get those other documents organized. First trip to Pretoria = a waste of time.

Second Visit: So, a few weeks later (this past monday), I go back; I spent the whole day in Pretoria because I had to drop the application before 11:45 and pick it up between 2 and 3. This time, I drop of the completed application. She looks through it and complains that the letter from my friend Janet is not on letterhead, so how will she know it is from Uganda (I don't really see how letterhead makes that much of a difference because I can make up any letterhead I want and say it's from a Ugandan company or whatever, but oh well, I guess letterhead legitimizes all letters!), and she also complains that I printed the application form on the back of something else (but really?!?! what difference does it make, the information is there and that was all the paper I had at my office). Then, she says "Come back between 2 and 3 . . . if they will even give you a visa!" Wow; she really likes to be a pain in my ass!

So, I come back at 2. She says the visa is not ready. While I wait, a Ugandan lady who is waiting for her travel documents is asking to speak to someone else because she has a question that this secretary woman cannot/refuses to answer. the secretary says that this woman as a Ugandan will not receive special treatment here and that only South Africans get special treatment. WHAT!?!?! This secretary is South African, so how dare she insult this Ugandan woman in such a way; in her own embassy, which is actually Ugandan soil if I am not mistaken. Can anyone say xenophobia . . . how can they get someone like this to work in an embassy?!?! Then, after waiting for an hour, this secretary woman says that we must all come back (there are about 4 of us) tomorrow because the visas and travel documents are not finished. At this point, I am fuming mad!

I ask her why. She says that there is a problem with my passport/visa application that the guy upstairs cannot understand, so someone else needs to take a look at it, but that person is not in the office at the moment (now it took me like 15 minutes to get her to actually answer me, because she just kept saying: "There's a problem, come back tomorrow!"). Then I asked her if she could let me talk to the person upstairs so that I can see if there is a problem that I can fix, so that it can get done today. She refuses but I push and she calls the guy (does not let me talk to him) and says the same thing "There is a problem, and you need to come back tomorrow." So, I tell her that I cannot spend an entire day in Pretoria again, so I need to know exactly when it will be done; I ask her to promise me that it will be done by 9 am (the time she told me to come back) because I don't want to come back and see that it is not finished. She promises that it will be done by 9 am. I then ask her what time the embassy opens; she says 9 am. So, I say "If you say it will be finished by 9 am but you only open at 9 am, then this person that needs to check my application must be coming in sometime later today because he will need time to work on it; so why can't I come back later today so that I don't have to make another trip?" She then realizes that I caught her in her lie and she resorts to repeating herself without explaining and without making sense "No, it will be done at 9 am and he is not coming in until tomorrow." So I keep arguing with her and she just walks out of the office into the back, so I wait! She comes back; we argue more because I am stubborn and want to make my point. She then says "Don't ruin my day! I am not coming back!" And she leaves the office again. She has to come back because it is the front desk of the embassy, but I leave anyway.

Third Visit:

I get to the embassy at 10:30 the next morning and is the visa ready? Nope! So, I wait and then she has me talk to “the guy upstairs” and he tells me that they can not give me a visa because my letter of invitation from my housemate needs to be more specific and they need proof of employment in the US. WHAT!?!?!?! If they would have told me that yesterday, I could have organized to bring that stuff today, but now I can’t afford to come here again (too much to do). So, I tell him that I cannot come here again and that I will just get a visa at the airport. He then tells me not be arrogant. WHAT!?!?!? He goes on to say “Whose airport is that? Is it your’s?” . . . . um, no!? . . . He then goes on to explain to me that Uganda is a sovereign nation, just like the US . . . wow! that is amazing, because I actually thought that Uganda was not a country of its own! . . . So, I just ask for my passport back and I leave. R500 ($62) down the tube, but at least I did not have to deal with them again! And, when I got to the airport to get a visa, guess what they needed . . . $50 and my passport, That’s all!!!! But at least I am safely in Uganda again.

So, if you ever need to go to Uganda, just get your tourist visa at the airport!

Oh how I hate African bureaucracy! And guess what, I still have to get my year long multiple entry visa . . . good luck right?