Nick and Sarah Eiden are Hays residents, but for the next year are hanging their hats in a different continent. The Eidens are in the capital city of Kampala, Uganda on a mission trip. They began their journey in June of this year, taking their two young children to Uganda.
Hays Post: “Could you tell me a little bit about what you’re doing there and where exactly you’re located?”
Eidens: “We are in Kampala, which is the capital city of Uganda. We work with an organization called a.k.a. Hope. We work with underprivileged kids living in a slum. Most of them are orphans who have been taken in by people in the community. We teach at a primary school where the children attend for free and receive a meal each day.”
Hays Post: “What sort of living conditions are you in right now, and what are the conditions where you are teaching?”
Eidens: “As you can tell, sometimes our utilities aren’t up to American standards, but for the most part, we have a comfortable living condition. We live in an apartment complex with three other units. We have running water (although we can’t drink what comes out of the tap), indoor toilets and showers (with a water heater!) but no dish washer or oven in the kitchen. The biggest change to daily life would be the laundry – it is all done by hand.
The community where the school is, and where the children live, is literally a slum. There are thousands of people in a small area of land, without electricity, running water or any sort of sanitation. Each “house” is at most ten feet by ten feet, with most being home for at least six people. They are made out of whatever material is available, including mud, sticks and scrap materials.
One big bonus to our living situation is the weather! It is about 80 degrees every day, and it rains sometimes. Very consistent, and absolutely beautiful!”
According to their blog, it is tradition and common practice in Uganda that when you see a cute baby, you run up, grab the baby away from the parent, and walk away saying, “Ah, Baby! I take you!”
Hays Post: “I’ve been reading your blog and I see a lot of things that would be considered a culture shock, like someone taking your child. What is one situation or cultural trait that you have had the hardest time adapting to?”
Eidens: “Actually, that is getting better. Our kids are getting more comfortable with that, as they have learned that they aren’t going too far, and that we are still with them. But, it did take a few times for them, and mom and dad, to get used to that.
The biggest culture shock would be what is commonly called “African time” which can be 2 to 3 hours behind “actual time”. Appointments are much more fluid, with late being not only acceptable, but expected. We are getting used to it, and even use it to our benefit sometimes. Kampala is a big city, much larger than Hays, so African time plays well with getting stuck in traffic, or
We are pretty punctual people, so we are learning to relax a little bit.”
Hays Post: “It sounds like it’s much slower paced, have you been able to enjoy yourself a bit more?”
Eidens: “We are enjoying the adjustment. We definitely have more family time, and Nick has significantly more time with the kids. We take turns teaching, while the other parent stays home with the kids. It has been a change to the family dynamic, but a big blessing.
We do take our children to the school with us sometimes, but not for a full day. That would be too much for them, and we wouldn’t get much teaching done. They come visit and play games and such. Which all of the kids involved (ours and the students) love!”
Hays Post: “It looks like your kids are loving it down there from the pictures you post.”
Eidens: “Yes, they are having a great time. They miss family and friends back home, as we all do, but life here suits us. God is definitely taking care of us.”
Hays Post: “Do you have any specific goals / items you want to accomplish while down there on top of what you’re already doing now? Do you have any big projects planned?”
Eidens: “Phase one of the project is to hire another teacher, and rent an additional classroom, so that the day school can expand. Phase two is a boarding school. A.k.a. Hope has a long term vision to build a boarding school for the students, rather than just the existing day school. This would meet more of their needs, obviously, including providing a safer living environment. Phase two will be implemented when more funding is made available.
The teacher to be hired will be Ugandan. We teach at the school, but are volunteers. The idea is to empower the community at every turn, which includes providing jobs to locals.”
Hays Post: “Did I understand correctly, you’re there for one year? “
Eidens: “Yes, the plan is for one year. God will continue to lead, and we will continue to follow. We feel like we are just getting the hang of life here, but we love it. “
Stay tuned to Hays Post for an update on the Eidens. Their blog can be found here at http://eidens.weebly.com/