Fall Winter 08

The Core


The Ambassadors

They've Got Game

Meteoric Metcalfs


Editor's Note

Vox Populi

Secret History

It's A Small World

Remembering One of the Greats

Full Circle

Photo Finish

Ugandan Diaries

Go Ask Alumni

Beyond the Quads

Ugandan Diaries

Last summer, fourth-year Sarah Butler traveled to Uganda on a Summer International Travel Grant. Her goals: to do research for her BA project on HIV/AIDS education for the deaf and learn Ugandan Sign Language. During her trip she chronicled her adventures on her blog, sarahinkampala.blogspot.com. Butler gave us permission to share some excerpts.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I left Chicago Thursday afternoon (July 10) and arrived in Uganda Friday night. The hostel, the Red Chili Hideaway, had a restaurant, which was very helpful in preventing starvation until I worked up the courage to attempt public transportation. I couldn’t sleep so I stayed up listening to audio books on my iPod.

Saturday (July 12), I ventured out of the hostel compound to find an ATM and a cell phone store—a successful but surprisingly tiring adventure.

Sunday (July 13), I headed out to attempt to find Kampala Baptist Church. Here’s why: my contact in Uganda left for a month the day before I arrived (which I found out via her blog!). My boyfriend’s father’s friend knows a pastor in Detroit who was a missionary in Uganda, and he knew the pastor of Kampala Baptist Church.

Well, my driver claimed that he didn’t know where it was, because there are so many Baptist churches in the city. But he picked one and it was exactly the one I wanted. Unfortunately, the service was held in Luganda, so I couldn’t understand a single word. Fortunately, very few white people attend that service, so I stuck out easily as someone who needed friends.

Long story short, I moved into the home of missionaries relatively new to Uganda, Cindy and John. It looks like I will be staying here my whole time.

Monday was the first day that I went to the Uganda National Association of the Deaf (UNAD), where I am volunteering and researching my BA thesis. I arrived to the most pleasant surprise: a number of people who work for UNAD know American Sign Language. I signed with a weird mixture of ASL and Ugandan Sign Language, and they continually taught me new words in USL.

Two of the men from UNAD took me out to lunch at a Ugandan restaurant. Honestly, I have no idea what I ate because they labeled all of the food in USL. One thing about Ugandans, they stare. And the sight of a muzungo (the word meaning white person that is constantly yelled at me on the street) and two deaf Africans must have been quite the sight.

Thursday, July 17, 2008
This morning I headed to UNAD for the first time all by myself. I met Florence, the coordinator for HIV/AIDS training and education, who invited me to four or five conferences on education for people with disabilities. The first one is tomorrow and held in Kampala.

Afterward, I went shopping at Game, which is like Target. I bought disposable cameras for taking to areas that are more risky. I also bought pens and notebooks, because despite my mother’s advice, I only brought one of each and promptly lost both.

Saturday, July 19, 2008
Yesterday (Friday, the 18th) was really rewarding. I went to a conference on AIDS and disability with Florence and Barry, who thankfully is hearing and speaks English. Florence is one of the nicest people I’ve met here. She grabs my hand when we cross the street. Keep in mind that crossing the street is no easy feat here.

The most helpful part of the conference was the handout that listed the organizations that focus on disability and/or HIV/AIDS in Uganda. Tonight I am researching these organizations, finding them on the map, and planning routes to get there. I am basically creating a scavenger hunt to collect data for my project. The prize is getting to write the actual BA paper!

Sunday, August 17, 2008
Tuesday, August 12 was one of the best days I’ve had in Uganda, maybe in my whole life. I rode a boat on the Nile. I saw where Lake Victoria ends and the Nile begins. This is a lifetime dream come true.

Thursday, August 21, 2008
In the last two days, I interviewed five deaf people who don’t work for UNAD. Everyone has different opinions on how the deaf should be educated about HIV/AIDS, so it should lead to an interesting paper.

Yesterday I watched the rehearsal of UNAD’s Deaf Silent Theatre Company. Theater is one of the main ways that UNAD tries to educate deaf people.

One of the actors and I were chatting during the tea, samosa, and chapata (flatbread) break. My Ugandan Sign Language skills are pretty minimal, but I guess I understand a lot more than I can say. He was telling me that I should get my hair braided to surprise everyone in the US. Florence turned to me and asked, “You understand him?” She looked so proud. I smiled and signed, “I’m learning.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Way back in January when I started researching for this trip, I read about Alex Ndeezi, the first deaf Member of Parliament in Uganda. He is quoted in multiple articles discussing the dangerous results of not educating the deaf about HIV/AIDS. His urgency is part of why I chose Uganda as the site for my summer of research.

On Tuesday, while I was at UNAD, a man walked through the lobby. So here’s the funny part (aka Sarah doing something dumb): I didn’t want him to know that I was talking about him, so I signed to a woman nearby asking if that was indeed Mr. Ndeezi. But the woman is hearing and knows English, and he’s deaf, so I could have just asked out loud. Instead I chose to speak in the language he does know, so he would have understood me if he had come back in the room.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008
This morning I met with Alex Ndeezi. It was one of my very last interviews. Yay!

Tomorrow I am going to UNAD to say goodbye to everyone. Then I’m running errands like picking up some African clothes I’m having made.

Thursday, September 4, 2008
This is the last post being written while in Africa. As everyone warned me before I came here, I have mixed feelings about coming home. I will miss my new friends, the weather, and UNAD. But I am ready to be home where I do not break the cultural norms on a regular basis.

I did not learn a ton of USL and I’m sure I will forget some as I return to ASL, but I will never forget the signs I learned and used every day to explain who I am and why I’m in Uganda, especially the word “research”.