Week Three: Adventures on the Nile

     Week number three is done now! At work, I am getting involved with a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) project, where I have been tasked with analyzing how effective SAFE’s legal trainings about land rights and alternative dispute resolution have been. I will help design a survey to measure the impact of the trainings, and then travel to several of SAFE’s field offices to administer the surveys to people who have run and attended the trainings. This is not the standard kind of legal research and writing that I was expecting to do this summer, and I am excited to get creative with this and hone a new skill set. I’m also thankful to have the opportunity to travel to new parts of Uganda with this project, and to really dive in and see what I can learn about SAFE’s work here. 
     Outside of work, I traveled back to Jinja this weekend to go a concert with my roommate and spend some more time on the Nile (one of my favorite places to be). Between the two weekends I have spent in Jinja, I have now gone white-water rafting, kayaking, rope swinging, and even bungee jumping. I have always been rather terrified of heights, but that is exactly what makes it so important for me learn to cope with them! So, I decided to go bungee jumping to push myself out of my comfort zone and teach myself to face my fears. As I inched up to the platform just before the jump and looked down at the water way, way below, I was so scared and my legs were shaking so much that I thought I might just fall right off the platform. (I’m sure that wouldn’t have actually happened—but it sure felt like it at the time!) It crossed my mind for a second that this was crazy and that I shouldn’t do this. (What if the bungee man tied the rope to my legs wrong, and I fell out? What if the rope just snapped?) But, I took a deep breath, reminded myself that I am more than capable of facing my fears, and launched myself off the platform, far out into the sky. The feeling of exhilaration as I hurled toward the water and as my hands touched the Nile was beyond comparison, and well worth all the anxiety beforehand. 
     White-water rafting was a similarly important and exhilarating experience. I got to try my hand at survival swimming when thrown into the rapids, and I even got to row the huge, heavy “safety boat” all by myself! The oars of this boat were twice as tall as I am, and my legs were barely long enough to even reach the brace in front of me. This meant that the first few times I tried to paddle, my feet literally went flying over my head! But, I got the hang of it after a few tries, and moving that boat down the river was such a great way to get in a workout on the Nile! Perhaps more importantly, I also met some really cool rafting buddies who are also working in Kampala for the summer, and who share a love of travel with me. We are already planning some more weekend trips together, and I can’t wait to explore more of this country with them.
Bungee jumping on the Nile. Pure joy.