Category Archives: 2011 Uganda

It’s not goodbye, it’s see ya later.

Alright, so it’s been a long two weeks to say the least. Besides dealing with the shock of re-adjusting to the American way of life, we’ve spent close to 5 hours per day editing and putting together all of the footage we shot. As surprising as it sounds, sitting in front of a computer screen for that long can really wear you out.
 
Throughout this experience, I’ve learned that I’m not the greatest at video editing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun & interesting, I just often feel like I don’t measure up compared to some of the other students.
 
So instead of editing film, I’ve spent my time blogging, working on our papers that are due Tuesday, & helping with random odd jobs, just so I don’t feel completely useless.
 
With the last day of class finally upon us, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit sad to say goodbye. We’ve spent the past five weeks together & I’ve gotten to know everyone so well. I mean, it’s kind of hard not to when you’ve been through the stuff we’ve been through. Between all of the inside jokes (“Peace is the fruit!”) and recapping of crazy events (the boarding pass incident), it’s safe to say I’m going to miss everyone a ton.
 
That being said, I’m also very excited to start my summer. However, while I’m enjoying laying out by the pool, going to baseball games, & hanging out with friends, I’m always going to keep the people of Uganda in the back of my mind.
 
It would be impossible not to. 

The Last Hurrah

I was looking at some quotes online to answer the question “what is peace/justice?” I found a great one from Harrison Ford, which is awesome because I love Harrison Ford. (When I was little, I would run around my neighborhood pretending to be Indiana Jones and Han Solo…and also Macgyver, but that’s another story) So, when I came across this quote and realized that it was perfect for the topic, I was giddy.

“Peace is not the absence of war but the presence of justice.” 

This quote is perfect to me. As bad as every Miss America contestant wants it, I believe “world peace” is unattainable. The world will always have war within it. Even though it is sad to thing about it but it is true. But the world can find peace through justice. Africa is the perfect example of this. Nearly everyone we talked to in Uganda said peace cannot be attained without justice. 

According to a dictionary justice means to be fair or reasonable. This definition basically sums it up perfectly. However, justice should not stop there. Justice also means more than that. It is not just a one time thing. Justice must be carried out everyday, all the time. Especially in Africa.

If you asked me if I thought Uganda was a just place prior to my visit I would have said yes. According to all the travel sites and webpages I had read, Uganda seemed like a fantastic place. But now that I have seen what I have seen, I believe Uganda is far from that. It still was a great place, I loved all the people I met. But it is far from a just place. The government is very corrupt and nearly all the money stays in the south. I know there are needy people everywhere but the people of the north need all the help they can and should get. They deserve it.

To them peace would be not having to live in fear everyday or not worrying if their children will be taken in the middle of the night or being able to provide their family with food and shelter. But that peace cannot be attained without JUSTICE.  

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog as much as I enjoyed writing it. Africa was incredible and I will never forget any part of it. Thank you for reading and I also thank you for putting up with my lame sense of humor and bad jokes. Once again, my classmates had some great blogs and you should check them out. And I know you all want one more Dumb and Dumber link so here it is.  Haha got ya. 

Yours Truly

Matthew W. Dorwart

PS You can’t triple stamp a double stamp

Coming To An End

Today was our final day of class and I can’t believe it.  These past five weeks have gone by so fast, its incredible.  The documentary is coming along great and after a couple more sessions of editing with Peter and Tim, it should be ready for viewing!

However, as this journey comes to an end, I have to ask myself the same questions that we asked the many people we came in contact with while we were in Uganda.  What is peace?  What is Justice?  What is forgiveness?

These questions are very hard for me to answer because the possible answers are endless.  I have the utmost respect for the people in Uganda who came up with answers to these questions because they are very difficult questions to ask someone in any circumstance.  

Peace to me would have to be a place where there is no violence at all.  There would be complete tranquility all around and everyone would get along in unity.  I also think that peace means people are not only getting along with others around them but they are also in complete sync and harmony with themselves.  I feel that in order for there to be peace in the world, it has to start with everyone finding that harmony in their own lives first.  I also think that peace is a state that people are in when they are free of worries and feel that everyone and everything around them is in perfect sync.  

When I think of justice I think of the Golden Rule: do one to others as you want done to you.  I feel that justice is exactly that.  In order for you to get respect and acceptance from others, you need to show it as well.  I also feel that in order for there to be justice, everyone needs to be unbiased in their decisions.  People need to be able to hear all sides of the story in order for them to bring justice to the situation.  Without unbiasedness, there cannot be justice in a society.  

After hearing the people of Uganda talk about forgiveness, I feel that forgiveness is when someone does not hold a grudge against another person even though what they have done could have been very horrible.  I also feel that forgiveness is when people take what has happened and put it behind them and look forward to the future and hope that in the end everything will work out for the better.  Forgiveness is something that takes a lot of effort to show and I know for a fact that I would not be able to forgive Joseph Kony if he did those horrible things to my family, therefore I respect the people of Uganda so much because they have shown forgiveness towards everything that has happened to them throughout the years.  Because of them, I know that I too can forgive, no matter how big or small the situation is.   

 

Kuwe

We’re officially done.

Well, kind of. 

The video isn’t finished, but our class is. We had a reflection today before heading to Cali Taco for a last hurrah, and then we all went our separate ways. 

And, honestly, it was really sad. I’m going to miss everyone a lot, but it’s good that we can have normal lives again. Things were getting pretty funny yesterday because our brains have basically been fried after staring at computer screens for two weeks straight, so time spent at the pool and with friends is much welcomed.

Segue.

We’ve been told to write about what peace means to us (hence why I’ve titled this post “Kuwe,” which means peace in Luo. I’ve put this off for a while because I can’t seem to come up with the right words… and I’m usually pretty good at that. But the truth is, I really don’t know what it means. And, honestly, I don’t think very many people do. I just know moments when I feel it.

Like when I’m with my friends or when I come home after being away for a long time or when I’m laying in the sun or listening to a good song.

When putting these moments together, I can conclude that peace is when there is nothing upsetting happening. No anxiety, no frustrations, and no worries. It’s when you are able to just be present and content with the situation. But that’s only how I see it.

And it’s weird because since going to Uganda, I haven’t really felt at peace… I don’t think any of us have… probably because of how it affected us all. It’s definitely no fun not being at peace, but I’m still glad I experienced what I did because now I can do something (or at least try to do something) about it.

What is justice?

“What is justice?” I used to think of that word with an “eye for an eye” mentality. Justice meant, for me, that someone who commits a wrongdoing gets what he/she deserves.

Through this trip and the inspirational people we met along the way, I’ve realized that it’s exactly this kind of “justice” that rips nations apart.

True justice, in fact, comes by a wrongdoer getting what they most certainly do not deserve, and that’s forgiveness.

Because without that forgiveness, there is no hope for peace; and without peace, what’s justice but a never-ending cycle of wrongdoings?

Someone along the line has to be strong enough to stand up and forgive, rather than fight back. To forgive is the more difficult option, although it’s not always looked upon as the most admirable. 

The person that breaks the cycle demonstrates true integrity. If it is wholehearted, genuine forgiveness, then that deed starts, rather than a cycle of violence, a cycle of peace, and that kind of justice is what strives towards a society of solidarity. 

Attention Span

I’ve discovered that there is an inverse relationship between the number of days I spend on a computer and the number of seconds my attention span lasts.

Now that it’s the second-to-last day, I’d like to apologize to Bridget for only being able to focus on editing the video in 30-second increments. 

Also, sorry that this blog will be jumpy, because I literally can’t finish a thought before spinning around in my computer chair and forgetting what I was about to write.

Our class has now digressed into a frenzy of playing Cool Runnings clips and covers of rap songs on the projector screen. 

I’m amazed that the 17 of us are still functioning together as a team, without any arguments. I hope I’m not speaking too soon.

————

I’m finishing this post at home, since I obviously could not do so in Hitchcock 205 today.

What I need to blog about is the weird way that trips like the one we took to Uganda show up in your life after you return.

I’m in charge of a group of four and five-year-olds for Vacation Bible School at my church…the theme is African Safari. The first day, the cheesy video starring mediocre-at-best 13 year olds showcased a group of 4 kids going on a safari to find the “Ugandan kob,” which just happens to be one of the animals we spotted on our game drive.

I tried my best to explain that yes, I slept under a mosquito net just like the ones the kids’ offerings were going to buy, and that yes, I do mind when you call me a “tribe leader”.

And I was worried about forgetting my experiences there. I feel like there will always be little reminders, regardless if they’re as blatant as the Vacation Bible School coincidence. 

Peace. Justice. Forgiveness

It is so difficult to put into words what I have gathered from the people in Uganda. Many of those we interviewed spoke of peace, justice and forgiveness. Their answers were always so beautiful and genuine. Their desire for peace, through justice and forgiveness is so strong. Peace, justice and forgiveness are perhaps some of the most abstract concepts to define yet, at the same time, it is easy for us to identify actions of peace, justice, and forgiveness. In order to define these ideas, we must not only describe them with our words but define them with our actions. That being said, the words I write to describe these concepts, most certainly, cannot come close to defining them. They are just a few of my thoughts….

peace

– no violence or animosity between people

– acceptance and understanding

– loving others

– free of worry

– constant movement toward peace

– harmony

– open conversation, listening, learning

– in peace with God and self to live in peace with others

justice

-giving others what they deserve

-many times thought of in terms of when a crime is committed but it is important to consider its meaning outside of that train of thought

-if it is giving others what they deserve, it is giving them what is rightfully theirs

-protection of human rights and justice when there is a violation of human rights

-also, we are given so much more than what we deserve

-we are a sinful people and despite our shortcomings we are still loved

-in terms of justice then, there is an element of mercy

-even if someone’s actions warrant justice, in everything we do we need to love others

-we must treat others the way we would want to be treated in the same situation

– unbiased

forgiveness

– expression of love

– not seeking revenge, not holding grudges

– unlimited

– not always easy, but always necessary

– unselfish

2 weeks later…

So tomorrow will be the 2 week anniversary of returning from Uganda. I think I’ve hit every emotion possible within that time frame and it seems like everything in my life has changed. I have gotten a new tattoo, volunteered to transfer locations at my job (pre-Uganda, I would have quit if they ever made me transfer), and started mending poor family relations that I had been too stubborn to confront.

My personality has even been affected. Visiting Uganda was a humbling and sobering experience. I’ve learned that I am truly blessed (in case that wasn’t clear enough in my previous blogs) and that life MUST be celebrated! Coming back to the US was extremely hard. The feelings of disconnect and bitterness were not easy to cope with, and I know they will stick with me. But at the same time, I shouldn’t spend my life being sad or angry. If there’s one lesson the Ugandan people intended to pass on to us, it is to celebrate life.

Praise God, be grateful for what you have, and celebrate.

 

I’m going to miss this

While I was great at getting that b-roll, I’m not quite as good at editing it. Seriously, it’s really hard.

Good thing today is the LAST DAY OF CLASS (where has all the time gone??) so Tim and Peter will be taking over the rest of the editing of our documentary. We get to see another rough cut of it again today and I’m pretty pumped to see all of the progress we’ve made. 

It’s kind of a bittersweet feeling having this class finally end. I can’t wait to sleep in and spend my days outside instead of in a classroom but It’s also going to be really hard not to see all of the people in my class regularly. We’ve been through A LOT together and have seen some things that most people will never see. We have pretty much been together constantly throughout this class and it’s going to be really weird being separated. Yes, I’m sure we’ll get together throughout the summer but it’s still not the same.

So I would just like to say thank you; thank you to my teachers and classmates for the last five weeks. This has really been a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one that I know I’ll never forget. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Take me back.

I want to go back to Uganda.

Honestly, that’s something I never thought I would say… at least not for a few years. When I was in the country I was always uncomfortable. I was covered in mosquito and spider bites, we spent the majority of our days crammed in a small bus, I was constantly sweating, and the food kept making me sick. At the time, it was really hard. Thinking back, though, the little things that bothered me while I was in Uganda are not what I remember most about my experience. I remember the friendships and the stories I heard there over anything else.

Everyday we spend in class watching and editing all of the footage makes me miss the country even more. We have spent so many hours watching the people we interviewed, all of the kids we held hands with, and all of the cool stuff we did. And although these things feel so close to me on my computer screen, they’re actually thousands of miles away which is very sad.

I would give anything to be uncomfortable again, to be back in Uganda. 

 

Everyone should listen to the song “Blessed To Be A Witness” by Ben Harper. We listened to it the day before our trip and now that we’re home the meaning is finally sinking in with me. We’re blessed to have seen the things we saw, even though it was really hard for us. I’m not the same person I was three weeks ago. Seeing a little piece of the world that most people aren’t really aware of has been an eye-opening experience for me.