Brian Dunn talks about his service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uganda
This isn’t your father’s Peace Corps! My idea of the Peace Corps before I came was that I would be living in a mud hut in a very rural African village a thousand miles from nowhere. One of my biggest concerns was what would happen to me if I became deathly ill and couldn’t contact anyone for help and would inevitably die from some strange African disease and my body not be found for months! Although each Peace Corps Volunteer’s experience is exponentially different from one another, my perception and my reality also differed greatly.
For one, I have a cell phone which I use several times a day to send text messages to friends both here and in the U.S. I use my laptop on a daily basis for everything from e-mail, Internet, blogging (http://pervispc.blogspot.com) databases and to watch DVDs which I rent from my village.
One of the biggest lessons I learned was that getting here – leaving friends and family, selling my home and truck- was much more difficult than actually being here (although being here has its own daily quirks, believe me), and that I have a rich network of support and friendship from the 70 or so other PCVs who currently serve in Uganda with me, as well as a top notch PC staff, including 2 nurses on call 24/7. The reality also is that, as one of the only Caucasians in my village, if I do get sick or something does happen to me, the villagers couldn’t help but take notice.
Compassion works. I’ll personally vouch for it. I’ve seen lives literally saved because of the Compassion program. I’ve also seen those same Save the Children commercials on local Christian TV at 2 a.m. that you’ve seen. The ones where you wonder if they really do help the kids they portray. Their job, it seems, is to find the poorest of poor children, the ones covered in flies, and then emotionally move people to help. That’s my take at least. But those conditions are real, they do exist. I’ve seen some of them. I’ve been in their homes. Fortunately, I don’t see them every day. Fortunate, because not everyone here lives like that. But some do. And I see the need for aid, development organizations and people to help people out of the recurring poverty trap. A trap that they can’t get out of through hard work alone. Not without assistance. Read more.
Read more about Peace Corps Uganda.