GEF Fall meeting

This fall we had our GEF Fall meeting and it focused on the Fulbright Scholarship. We went over exactly what the program is (both the teaching scholarship and the research scholarship), how and when to apply for the scholarship, how exactly to navigate the website, and advice on applying for the scholarship. I really was so thankful to have the fall meeting be about applying to the fulbright because it is something I am very interested in and have been thinking about since Freshman year. In the meeting I learned that picking a location is sort of a strategic thing because some locations have a ton more applicants than others, but only accept 1 or 2 applicants per cycle. I am thinking about either applying to do research in Uganda, which has accepted applicants for the past 3 years, or the Dominican Republic. I am thinking about Uganda because I have already studied abroad there twice, and have done really meaningful research that I could easily work off of if I went back for a fulbright. I also have established many relationships in Uganda that could help me to stand out as an applicant. I am considering applying to the Dominican Republic because I am taking a lot of Spanish, and have even decided to minor in it, so I would have the language skills for the location and it would give me an amazing opportunity to get even better at the language. The Dominican Republic also has many of the same infrastructure problems as Uganda, which I would be focusing on for my research, so I already have some knowledge about the field.


GEF Advisory Board Update

A little over a year ago,  I applied to be part of the Global Engagement Fellowship Advisory Board (this was the first time there was to be an advisory board). I applied to be a member of the Recruitment team because I really wanted t to help promote the program to high school students.I really wanted to get to encourage students to study abroad. I was and still am very passionate about studying abroad because of the two experiences I have had in Uganda. Jaci really liked my idea of sharing the short film I created about my Uganda experience. Unfortunately, the Recruitment team really hasn’t done much work recruiting to OU applicants, so I haven’t gotten to share my story or my short film. I really hope we are able to do some work with the team this coming semester and next year.  I think we really need to go out and speak to high schoolers so they know how relevant the program is. Without the GEF program, I wouldn’t be able to study abroad, so I want every student to have the opportunity to visit other countries and learn about different cultures. I cannot wait to go to Uganda in June and vlog my entire experience. In addition to the Recruitment team, I am also a mentor for the program. I haven’t had much success with my group of mentees. I have invited them to a few events, but I think everyone’s schedule is really full. I know my schedule is pretty packed, so I probably haven’t been giving the mentor role the full attention it needs. I hope to do better on this next semester.


All About WATER in Adjumani

Adjumani District in Uganda 

Community Ideas about Water

  • “Water is life” was heard in every village
  • “Water gives strength”
  • Water is used for drinking, bathing, cooking, cleaning, washing, animals, gardens, constructing, brewing, sanitation
    • Pavuraga 10 jerrycans of water for 4 jerrycans of alcohol
  • In Pavuraga, Paridi, and Mocope, the least number of jerrycans used per day for a household was 8 and the most was 16
    • Depends on family size
  • In Okawa and Okwa, the least number of jerrycans used per day for a household was 4 and the most was 12
  • Women in Pavuraga wake up at 4 am to get water, in Paridi either at 4pm or midnight, in Mocope 10 pm
  • Pregnant women can’t get water, and you can’t get it until the umbilical cord falls off
    • Once the umbilical cord falls off and a woman goes to the water for the first time, they spread ashes from where the woman begins to the water source itself
  • You can’t wash utensils at the river because you will get a taboo
  • Pregnant women cannot cross a stream unless you have a rope and cloth, cannot get the scent of the stream on them


  • Every single village wanted a new or repaired borehole
  • Day 2 villages ranged from 1.5 km to 3 km away from the borehole they used
  • Pavuraga and Mocope have to travel to use Paridi’s borehole
  • Okawa and Okwa do not have boreholes
  • Pavuraga, Paridi, Mocope and Day 2 villages all had boreholes, but some were broken
  • Pavuraga, Paridi, and Mocope heard a shortest wait time of an hour and longest wait time of half a day
  • Many women sleep at the borehole, even staying overnight
  • Sometimes women fall asleep in line and miss their turn
  • Loa 1 has to pump for 20-30 minutes before getting water
  • Pavuraga-borehole was broken
  • Paridi-the shallow borehole dries up in dry season, another borehole is operational year-round but it is not within their village’s borders
  • Mocope-10 meter borehole that dries up during dry season
  • Loa 2-one borehole has dried up so they only have the Nile as their water source
  • Liri-only have one borehole, it is their only water source because their other water source has dried up
  • Loa 1-borehole breaks frequently
  • Paridi experiences conflict because Pavuraga and Mocope use its water
  • Loa 1 and Loa 2 mentioned that fighting at a borehole or near fetching points will “get a taboo on you” and breaking up a fight there will also “get a taboo on you”
  • None of the communities mentioned sickness from the borehole
  • Paridi uses chlorine and waterguard at the borehole
  • Pavuraga and Paridi-if boreholes are contaminated and deemed bad, they are condemned


  • Pavuraga had a well that was filled in
  • Paridi has an artesian well or spring
  • Mocope has a 1922 open well
  • Every village that had a well or spring wanted it to be developed and protected
  • Okawa had an unprotected well but used tea sieve to treat water, frogs lay eggs in the well
  • All springs and wells were unprotected
  • Loa 1 wanted a new well, thought that would solve their problems


  • Okawa has a stream, to get to it they had to go up a steep incline with their jerrycans, doesn’t flow in the dry season
  • None of the streams or rivers were protected or developed
  • Mocope people bathe in creek behind their well

The Nile

  • Loa 2-said that one of the best things about their community was that they were close to the Nile, only water source, wanted water piped from the Nile, does not treat Nile water
  • Loa 1 wanted Nile water piped to their village because currently nobody uses it
  • No treatment of Nile Water
  • We observed animals and people drinking out of the same water source
  • We observed cow feces near the Nile

Other Water Sources

Besides the boreholes, wells/springs, and streams/rivers discussed above, some communities talked about other water sources. In all of the communities, private water was used as a last resort. An example of private water would be a borehole on someone’s owned land. Private water sources usually cost villagers 500 UGS per jerrycan filled. Village members in BLANK stated that most families can only afford two or three jerrycans of private water, and that using this waster and was reserved for an emergency. The Paridi villagers mentioned that wealthy people will pay 1,000 UGS per jerrycan to skip borehole lines or to have water delivered to them. Municipal water was only available in the Pavuraga, Paridi, and Mocope villages. Although municipal water is available in these locations, villagers expressed that it is too expensive. The Mocope village stated that they have very bad water pressure. The Okwa villagers joked (many people laughed), about the authorities piping water to them. Their laughter suggested that the villagers were extremely doubtful that they would receive piped water from authorities.

 Health Impacts of Water

  • Communities in all 3 days mentioned chest pain for women as a result of carrying water, especially when they have to carry their children as well
  • Okawa women said their heads felt like they were on fire when carrying a full jerrycan on their head
  • Worms found in water in the Adjumani district: tapeworm, hookworm, and bilharzia
    • We were not informed of these being found in working boreholes, but in other water sources
  • Liri said that malaria is a big health concern when going to fetch water
  • Neither Okawa or Okwa treat their water at all, only use a tea sieve
  • Pavuraga uses waterguard with their water
  • Pavuraga, Paridi, boil their water, but mentioned that it was time consuming
  • Mocope skips boiling their water because it is too time consuming
  • Mocope people get worms from bathing in creek behind their well
  • Okawa and Okwa mentioned gray and murky water
  • There are no trash and recycling services which pollutes water sources



All About Adjumani

Adjumani District in Uganda

Politics, War, Religion

  • Some villages in the region are strongly Catholic
  • Pavuraga and Mocope are both 99% Catholic
  • Paridi is inclusive of Mulsims and Sudanese
  • Okawa mentioned that new faces meant that their village was a good place
  • Pavuraga, Paridi, and Mocope all take in Sudanese refugees
  • The refugee camps exist as a result of the unrest in Sudan

Village Culture

  • Women fetch water and children help
  • Men do not fetch water
  • If a man is single, if a woman is sick, or if a man has a bota bota or bicycle would be the only times a man fetches water
  • A woman in Mocope was sick, but her husband still would not fetch water
  • We observed male drunkenness all three days, but it was most prevalent during Day 2
  • We observed male restfulness
  • The LC1 of Paridi said that men are not working the fields and that “laziness is killing his people”
  • All villages we talked to said no domestic violence, cooperation, no segregation, togetherness, family-oriented (will be addressed in limitations)
  • Okawa said they “only beat lazy women”

Government Promises and Mistrust

Several of the villages spoken with in the Adjumani district expressed their mistrust of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and the Ugandan government because the villages had been promised improved water sources, but these promises were never fulfilled. Specifically, the Mocope village had been promised a borehole by an NGO, but the borehole was never installed. After the promise from the NGO, the Mocope villagers said they saw the NGO vehicle drive by with no acknowledgement to their community. The Okwa villagers recalled that they had been promised a borehole by some entity (of which the name was not obtained), but the borehole wasn’t delivered. Villagers from Okwa also explicitly said that government officials do not do anything to help them. Both Loa 1 and Loa 2 villages were promised boreholes during elections but were not given anything. These two villages had also been requesting improved water conditions from the government, but they have yet to see any improvements. The Pavuraga village has a borehole that has been repaired by the government four times. The villagers have filled out the paperwork to get more repairs, but the repairs haven’t been made. It is also important to note that the Pavuraga village had paid for the repairs for their borehole, have a location for a new borehole, and know that the cost for a new borehole would be 22 million UGS. Several communities noted that their LC1 submitted plans and requests to the sub-county authority but no action had resulted. Over the three days of interviews in Adjumani (eight different villages visited), every village asked for the OU students and professors to advocate for them to someone who could assist with their water situation.


Community Health

  • Okawa and Okwa said that the health center blamed them because their children smelled
  • Loa 1 thought that health center should be responsible for implementing water solutions they suggest, said that health center does educate them on health and sanitation
  • Pavuraga, Paridi specifically mentioned they liked their community because they were close to a health center
  • Mocope mentioned that they would like to be closer to a health center
  • Loa 1 said they liked their community because they had good health


  • Loa 1 said that one of the best things about their community was that it was near the Nile because of the fishing industry
  • Okawa and Okwa mentioned their fertile land and that they had plenty of it, had plenty of food as a result, had free land for grazing animals, also had lots of rain for crops
  • Loa 2 said that men fish during the wet season but bricklay during the dry season
  • We observed all villages with chickens
    • Most villages also had goats and ducks
    • Some villages had pigs and cattle
  • Main livelihood is growing crops
  • Women brew alcohol
    • 10 jerrycans of water=4 jerrycans of booze

Village Finance and Organization

  • Paridi, Mocope both mentioned collecting money in a village fund
    • Paridi-water specific, used for waterguard and borehole repairs, 1,000UGS per household per month
    • Mocope-general fund, used for school fees, medical expenses, and also water purposes, 1,000UGS per household per month
  • Pavuraga and Paridi had a water and sanitation committee and an assigned caretaker of the borehole
    • Caretakers are volunteer (unpaid) and voted on by the community
  • Loa 1 said that their village savings bank was one of the best things in the community
    • Pays 1,000UGS to the village savings banks
    • School contributes 50,000UGS per month to the village savings bank
  • Okawa mentioned having a village bank (general fund) that community members contributed to


  • Education for children was the primary focus of the communities
    • Both general and water-related
  • Pavuraga and Paridi were happy to be near schools
  • Water queues can make children late to school
    • Paridi and Mocope schools lock out children if they are late, this is a disciplinary tactic
    • After being late a lot, children get discouraged, drop out, and get married (Paridi)
  • Loa 1 said that one of the best things about their community is that there is a school in their village, all kids are in school, teachers are good
  • For Redeemer: school fees are paid by the term, ask for $60 from everyone but people pay what they can

Community Priorities and Requests

Every community expressed that installation of a new or deeper borehole was a top priority. In addition, Loa 1 mentioned that a rainwater collection system was a priority. It is important to note that they were the only village in Adjumani to mention a rainwater collection system. Loa 2 suggested a real engineer to help repair boreholes. Liri villagers said that getting water piped from a training center that is 2.5-3 km away from the village is a top priority. Every community also expressed that installation of a new borehole was a top priority. Every community with a spring/well expressed that getting these springs/wells protected was a secondary priority. After top priorities, villagers also requested other water improvements. A village during DAY 2 requested solar powered pumps. After water related requests, villagers requested improvements to education and health. Finally, villagers asked us to spread their word. And finally, villagers asked us to advocate for them. 


Sister Rosemary Event

On September 27th, Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe came and spoke at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. She was the keynote speaker for the inaugural dinner for the opening of the new Center for Peace and Development. This center is focused on building Community-Based Partnerships in Post-Conflict Environments. It builds on OU’s long time work with communities in northern Uganda. It brings together faculty and students from across the University’s varied disciplines to build collaborative partnerships with communities affected by conflict. The Center is directed by Dr. John Harris and Dr. Sally Beach. I have spent time with both of these professors during my trips to Uganda. Dr. Jarrett Jobe, who I worked with in Summer of 2017, is on the executive committee of the center. The partners in Uganda include St. Monica Vocational School for Girls, Gulu University, Women’s Advocacy Network, and Pros for Africa. I was so excited to learn about the opening of this center, and I really hope to work with the center next semester and during my senior year. Since I have already worked with the directors of the center and many of the people on the executive committee, I think it would be a great opportunity for me to get to further my connection with Uganda and with the other partnership programs in Uganda. I will not be going to Uganda this summer, so I think working with this Center will be the best way for my to continue my studies. The Center has so much going for it, and I cannot wait to see it begin to thrive!


Water is Life

As almost everyone in Northern Uganda says, water is life and life cannot continue without water. To emphasize how important water is to the people of Northern Uganda, I want to highlight the difficulties that they face. In the United States we don’t usually face difficulties with water because we don’t realize how heavily we rely on it because it is available at our fingertips. Some of the biggest challenges with water are that villages are very large and it’s an extremely long distance to get to water sources and the lines to use the water sources are also extremely long. There is such a small amount of water and usually people can only bring back one Jerry Can at a time so it takes multiple trips to get an adequate amount of water. The villages that people live in are often very spread apart from the water sources and sometimes a walk to the closest water source can be as long as 2 km. Boreholes also break very often because they are not maintained monthly, and getting enough money for repairs is very difficult because people in the village often don’t have any extra money to spare. Although the villages do have water and sanitation committees to organize these repairs, pipes bursting and rusting are still very expensive and the village cannot collect enough money to usually pay for the repairs. Another problem with getting clean water is that normally it takes around 20 to 30 minutes just to pump other hand pump from the borehole even before water comes out in addition to this children are often the ones that are collecting water and most of the time they don’t know how to properly use the hand pump so they often are slamming it down so it breaks really easily. A solution to some of these problems could be drilling another borehole or new wells near the villages or pumping water from the Nile through a pipe leading to the villages that surround the river. We can also see that water is extremely important to the people of north and Uganda because they have mini customs about water some of these customs include not fighting Atwater points including while waiting in line for a bore hole or waiting in line for a spring as well as when you’re at the Nile collecting water you’re not allowed to fight anywhere near the water site. Another custom is that there can be no fighting for water so someone has collected water and they are walking back to the village you’re not allowed to fight in order to take the water away from a person. Another custom is that if women are pregnant you cannot fetch water until 8 AM and if you have just given birth you were not allowed to fetch water at all in addition to this you cannot wash any eating utensils at the river or else you’ll get a taboo put on to you which basically means you’ll get a curse put onto you and your family. The reason I chose to include a picture of a borehole with a hand pump is to just show how many people get their water in the villages of Northern Uganda. This picture is an example of a well-maintained borehole since it does have the concrete around it and the concrete is it cracked however this borehole does not have any fencing around it to keep animals away from it nor does it have a card to keep the hand pump from crashing completely all the way down onto the rest of the metal structure.


Uganda 2017


Although I have been to Gulu before, there were many things that I noticed this summer that I didn’t notice my first time here. My impression of the town has definitely changed since the last time I was here. The first time I arrived in Gulu I remember being overwhelmed by the differences between Gulu and the cities in the United States. This time however, these differences no longer overwhelm me because I was expecting them this summer. Some of the most noticeable differences were with the roads and the buildings. These differences were most noticeable because they are the ones you can see immediately when you arrive in Gulu, but you are also reminded of them every time you walk or drive through town. Unlike the United States, Gulu does not have stop signs, yield signs, stop lights, or really any traffic right away rules. In the United States, traffic rules are taken very seriously and we get tickets for simply turning into the incorrect lane. Because Gulu has a lack of these traffic signs and rules, I was surprised to see that they have a driving school. In addition to differences in roads, there are also differences in buildings.

The buildings in Gulu are very close together and don’t really have parking lots or parking spaces in front of them like the more spread apart buildings in the United States do. I also noticed that walking is a major mode of transportation in Gulu. Coming from Dallas, a city where most people drive cars or take public transportation (buses and trains) to every destination, it was very different to see so many people walking to every one of their destinations, especially when the walk was a pretty long distance. People from cities such as New York City or Chicago may be less overwhelmed by these differences because these cities tend to be more compact and walking is also a major mode of transportation.

Aside from these viewable differences, I also noticed that greetings are very important in Gulu, and very often people will greet you just as you pass them on the street. As I mention this I realize that we may get more greetings from people simply because we are “mzungus”. In Dallas people are friendly, but often times people keep to themselves when walking and are mostly focused on their own agenda rather than interacting with others. Along with these interactions, I also noticed that people in Gulu will say “sorry” to you when you experience any sort of mishap. For example, if you are walking down the street and trip over a ledge, almost everyone around you will sort of mumble “sorry” under their breath or even say it directly to you. Many people also say “you are welcome” in the sense that they are happy to have you in their shop or happy to see you, not in the sense of a response to thank you. Another specific detail I noticed is that in Gulu, “to let,” which is placed on buildings, is the equivalent of “to lease” in the United States. I was really excited that I was able to discover new things about the community we were staying in. I chose to include the picture of the Uganda flag on this journal entry because I wanted to represent the community we were experiencing.






Sooners Without Borders pt.3

I have written about Sooners Without Borders for the past two semesters, and I am here to do an update on my experience with the program this past semester. Unfortunately, I do think that this will be my last semester with Sooners Without Borders, just because the program doesn’t meet as often as I would like, and also doesn’t do as many programs as I would like. I think I mentioned this earlier, but the organization is aimed a little bit more toward engineering majors, and since I am not engineering, it really isn’t inline with my interests or career plans.  In fact, the organization did used to be called Engineers without Borders, but the name of the program was changed so it would appeal to students of all majors, but  most of the students involved are engineering majors and the main trip it does to El Salvador during spring break is engineering oriented. Also, a lot of the members are older, and many are even graduate students, so I haven’t really made any relationships with people in the organization. Meetings still don’t happen every week, which I wish they did, but instead are based on when the group has a speaker. The president of the group will send out an email alerting everyone that there will be a meeting that week, however often times this meeting is sent last minute. The organization does still have a relationship with Earth Rebirth. I mentioned this in my post about Sooners Without Borders last semester, but it’s still  so interesting how last spring semester we discussed doing a bottle house fundraiser for Sister Rosemary, and then I actually got to go to Uganda and see a bottle house in person. It was amazing how at the time I really didn’t know anything about Sister Rosemary, but a few months later I developed a personal relationship with her that will continue for many years to come. Collection of water bottles for these houses is really important because the houses are truly built from thousands of water bottles, and in Uganda it is extremely expensive to buy bottles of water. Fun Fact: The bottle houses are really cool inside, even when it is extremely hot outside, and there is no air conditioning in these houses. I am really excited to see the new progress that the compounds in Uganda have made with the pop bottle houses.


GEF Advisory Board

Last year I applied to be part of the Global Engagement Fellowship Advisory Board (this was the first time there was to be an advisory board). I applied to be a member of the Recruitment team because I really want to help promote the program to high school students. I love talking to younger students about activities that I am passionate about, and I am truly passionate about the GEF program. Because I studied abroad in Uganda last summer, I hoped to use my experience abroad to get high school students who were planning on attending OU to apply for the fellowship!  I had the idea to film my experience, vlogging style, and put together a short video that could be used basically as a recruitment video to get younger students interested in studying abroad. I did get some video of my trip, but not as much as I wanted. Since I am going to Uganda again this summer, I hope I can get some more footage so that I can make a more complete video of my time there. I think I mentioned this about the program, but I just happened to stumble upon this opportunity when I was on my OU account, but I hadn’t heard of it until right before the application was due. I was very lucky to notice a little blurb about the program, but I am sure many people missed the opportunity to apply because they didn’t know about the program. I really want every student applying to OU to be aware of the program. My goal is to make a recruitment video that shows how awesome it is to go abroad, and basically inspire people to not only apply to the program if they are eligible, but also to get those students who are already at OU, who aren’t eligible for the program, to study abroad anyway. I think we really need to go out and speak to high schoolers so they know how relevant the program is. Without the GEF program, I wouldn’t be able to study abroad, so I want every student to have the opportunity to visit other countries and learn about different cultures. I cannot wait to go to Uganda in June and vlog my entire experience. I plan to make several short clips to post on here, but my actual recruitment video will be more action (go pro) style. Unfortunately, we didn’t really get to do anything with the advisory board this year, but we did have a few meetings early on to discuss what recruitment could look like. I really hope we continue the advisory board and get to do some great recruiting in the future!


My Spring Break Trip

I just realized that I never talked about my Spring Break trip! Over Spring Break I had the opportunity to travel to Europe. This was my first time in Europe, and my second time abroad. The only thing was that this time… I was traveling completely by myself. One of my best friends, Libby, is studying abroad in London this semester, and she invited me to spend the week with her. I could not believe that I was going to get this opportunity! I never really had plans to travel to London, but because this opportunity fell in my lap, I was definitely not going to turn it down! I took three flights to get to the Heathrow Airport and then met up with Libby. Her school is located in Hatfield, which is just a train ride away from central London. In addition to getting to explore London, we also took a trip to Paris! The two of us hopped on a flight and spent two days in Paris. It was amazing! Of course I got to visit the Eiffel Tower, but to be honest I was definitely afraid of how high up in the air we were! The entire trip was definitely a once in a lifetime trip, and I was so happy to get to spend it with one of my best friends! Some of the other places we visited were:

London Ice Bar

Shopping on Oxford Circus

St. James Park

Buckingham Palace


Notre Dame

Champs Elyses

Arc De Triumph

London Eye

Big Ben