In the past five weeks, we have come to familiarize ourselves with and love our new family here in Gulu. Today’s post will introduce you to the lovely members of Pamela’s household!
Prince definitely owns his name. We all agree that we have never met a child so adorable yet so exasperating. There is never a moment when he is not ordering one of us to do something for him: “You make for me dragon! You give to me game! You put for me movie!” Recently, we finally got him to say please, thanks to Rose’s diligent training. He is a bundle of energy, constantly running around the house, jumping from couch to couch. One of Prince’s favorite tricks is to climb up a doorframe, pretending he is Spiderman. In the first week of GROW, we showed him the movie Spirited Away, and now he is to be forever obsessed with dragons. Prince also enjoys dancing the Macarena with us.
If he could have any superpower: “Breathing fire.”
Favorite animal: “Dragon.”
Favorite place: “Senior quarter.” [This is a neighborhood in Gulu with nice houses, where wealthy Ugandans live.]
Home village/parish: Areua, Uganda
Bio: Doreen is Pamela’s primary live-in helper. She is the one who keeps the house running smoothly each day. Each morning she is up before the sun rises, ensuring that every room in the house is spotless. It’s safe to say that she is the one person whom Prince obeys 24/7. As soon as she calls out his name, Prince jumps up and runs to Doreen. We often wonder how she manages to control the kid, since we have all attempted to do so to no avail. She also has the best laugh, unafraid to show her amusement when we end up making fools of ourselves (which is really all the time). So basically, we think of her as the queen of the house. Without her, we would be completely lost.
Favorite thing about being in Gulu/Pam’s house: “Being at Pam’s makes me feel like I’m at home.”
If she could have any superpower: “I’d be invisible so I can go anywhere I want. Also, I would be able to deal with people properly.”
Favorite animal: “Horse.”
If she could travel anywhere in the world:“Sweden. I like the idea of it.”
Home village/parish: Kalongo
Bio: Sharon is soft-spoken and serious, but has a fun side when she is playing with Prince or joining the GROW team in a game of cards. Her favorite game is UNO. After we taught Sharon how to play, she proceeded to win game after game. Aside from being a card-shark, she is also an amazing cook. Her chapathi is crisped to perfection, and we always inhale her rice and beans. We really hope that she gives us a cooking lesson before we leave Pam’s house!
If she could have any superpower: “Turn back time.”
Favorite animal: “Zebra.”
If she could travel anywhere in the world: “New York.”
Home village/parish: Awac
Bio: Emmanuel is not only the house guard, but also our daily workout buddy. A beast at push-ups, he joins (and dominates) us for our Insanity exercise videos every morning. He is also incredibly friendly and helpful, always greeting us with a smile. Each time we come home from the field or from a stroll around town, we can always count on his warm welcome as he opens the gate to Pam’s house.
Favorite thing about Gulu/Pam’s house: “Everyone is so caring and loving.”
If he could have any superpower: “Flying.”
Favorite animal: “Lion. I think that their manes are so beautiful.”
If he could travel anywhere in the world: “Switzerland.”
Home village/parish: Kitgum
Bio: Pam. The woman who started it all. The mother goddess.
But actually, Pamela has the biggest heart of anyone we know. She is the founder and executive director of GWED-G. Her passion for human rights, empowering victims of the war, and supporting women really shines through with everything she does and all the stories that she tells. She welcomed us into her home, immediately making us feel like we are a part of her family. Each day, there are always multiple visitors who come over, seeking her advice and company. However, we realized that she is not only extremely kind and hospitable, but also has mad leadership skills. When running GWED-G meetings, she is not afraid to take charge and reprimand any employee who may be slacking. Needless to say, we have endless admiration for this incredible lady and feel so lucky to be able to work with her.
Favorite memory from childhood:
“I had mobilizing skills ever since childhood. I would mobilize all my friends and siblings to go play, and I was always the leader. They would call me the woman M.P. [member of parliament]. I would collect so many children and address them on democratic issues. This was when I was around 7 to 10 years old. Boys would move with me and I’d call them my escorts. They were my bodyguards. One day we went to a simsim garden. There are a lot of bees that fly around the white simsim flowers. So I would go with my escorts, and I’d use the buzzing of the bees as my make-believe crowd. And then I started addressing the garden, pretending that all those bees were human beings. Whenever the bees make too much noise I would tell my escorts to ‘beat those people’. Then they really started slashing down the simsim garden, and I would tell them to continue beating the people because they were stubborn.
“My mom told me that women’s issues were in my heart even as I was growing up. I would only play those things. So there were about six boys. They destroyed the entire simsim garden. We heard the owner of the garden yelling and crying. But when I came back in the evening (my escorts brought me back home), my mom asked me what I was up to. I told her I was addressing the crowd. She asked me where. I said, ‘Somewhere. The people were very stubborn and we had to beat most of them.’”
“The next day, I planned to go back to the garden because I didn’t finish my speech. People in the village were saying, ‘Is there some sort of wizard here? What is happening to this garden?’ They all gathered around the garden, shaking their heads, because it was one full acre all destroyed.
“Anyhow, I still got up and dressed myself up nicely. My escorts came and asked, ‘Are you going?’ and I said, ‘Yes, I’m already dressed so smartly.’ So we went, and the people caught us red-handed because we went back to the same exact place as yesterday. They found us slashing the only remaining part of the garden! And they arrested all of us.
“Then, they brought us in front of the elders. I kept protesting, ‘But I was addressing the crowd! And they were being stubborn, so we had to beat them.’ They asked me, ‘Was that really a crowd?’ We said, ‘Well, we were just using them for play. Those bees were making noise like a crowd while we were talking.’”
“The lady who owned the garden just looked at me. This was the first time this sort of thing had happened. So my mother and father said they would pay for the garden. But the lady, after learning it was me, just laughed and said, ‘It’s okay. After all, she’s just a child.’”
If she could have any superpower: “I’d have an amplified voice. Amplified in terms of strength. Voice can unify people and make anything possible.”
Favorite animal: “Giraffe, because they are such peaceful animals. They can see very far and know the earth very well.”
If she could travel anywhere in the world: “Canada, Spain, and Paris. I also would like to go to an Asian country, like China or Japan.”
As we approach the final days of our trip, we realize how much we will miss all of these faces. Every person at Pam’s has made our experience one to remember. We hope that these short bios offer you a glimpse into our home lives on the GROW trip, and that you enjoyed getting to know a bit about our wonderful family in Uganda!
GROW team out.
- Diane Wang