Tag Archives: education

Thanksgiving in May

Today is Tuesday, the 24th of May. Joanna took us to the Kino Border Initiative’s humanitarian shelter for women migrants, Casa Nazaret. We met women and children who had been staying in an apartment room on the top floor of a rickety old building. As we reached the top, we were greeted with grins and giggles by the families seeking shelter.

We listened to a presentation about the people who the Casa Nazaret served. I learned that the Border Patrol has a program that is aimed to interrupt migration routes by separating families traveling together. This makes families more vulnerable in an infinite amount of ways.

A fact that left me bewildered was that 75% of these women have had less than a middle school education.

How could this be when I have had the privilege of attending an all-girls private, college preparatory school. I had a flashback of all the things I had learned there and how much I had developed into a confident, independent, thinking leader.

I asked Joanna why this was. She said that even though education was free, families still had to provide money for books and uniforms and transportation. Most families can barely even afford their children taking time off of work to attend school. Since the education for women is so low, it becomes harder as they grow older to find work. Weavings of Hope is a program that provides women with the opportunity to have some sort of income by making bracelets.

Women are able to weave bracelets and sell them as a way to make money. The process of making these bracelets is meditative and can also have a huge impact psychologically.
Women are able to weave bracelets and sell them as a way to make money. The process of making these bracelets is meditative and can also have a huge impact psychologically.

After the presentation, I read testimonial after testimonial of women who had passed through Casa Nazaret. I found the main thing that tied a lot of the stories together was family.

I remember one story about a woman who had grown up in a family where she had been neglected simply because she had been born with the wrong set of chromosomes. She was abused both physically and mentally in the most crucial stages of her life. As she started to have children of her own, she made a promise to herself to never expose her children to the hardships she had known growing up. She crossed the border illegally and had four children in America, a place where she could receive aid and her children could receive an adequate education.

One day, she had been driving her daughter to an appointment. She was pulled over, handcuffed, and taken to be detained right in front of her daughter. She had no time to gather her things or say goodbye to her husband or her children. This women was deported back to Mexico, miles away from the loves of her life. But how could she call her children and explain why she had to leave?

At the end of today, I am thankful. I am thankful for the opportunity of not only an education, but one that celebrates what being a women means. I am thankful to have been able to focus on my studies rather than having to work all of the time at a young age. I am thankful for having job opportunities that provide me with more than $4 at the end of my shift. I’m thankful for the nurturing family that continues to care about my whole well being and supports me.

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I told myself I would attempt to somewhat organize the structure/subject matters of these blog posts, but it’s really not going to happen so I apologize for my lack of order. Then again, it reflects the chaotic nature of my first two days here in Uganda. I’ve spent probably a solid three hours with my face right next to the open window of our home away from the hotel, also known as our bus, which has left a lovely layer of dirt on my face and hundreds of lasting images in my mind.

One of hundreds of motorbikes that passed by the windows of our bus.

Traffic in Kampala should not even be described as traffic. It’s more like drive where you want, when you want, as fast as you want, because you can. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gone through round-a-bouts amidst tons of motorbikes inches away from both sides of the bus. Meanwhile, you drive on the left side of the road here which constantly gives me these split-second moments where I panic and convince myself we’re about to die in a head-on collision. Slightly dramatic and unpleasant, so let’s move on.

We went to a market to shop for gifts and I discovered two main things. First of all, if you ever find yourself in foreign markets with me never, I repeat, never count on me to do the bartering. I had barely figured out the exchange rate of currency therefore I had zero idea of how much money I should be paying for anything let alone demand a lower price. My inability to assert myself aside, I did manage to make some friends in the process. A woman asked what “Creighton” on my T-shirt meant and when I told her it was a school she immediately gave me a giant hug. It was a warm embrace, but at the same time a harsh slap in my face for not appreciating my education as much as I should. I also bonded with my buddy Dennis, a charismatic painter who told me even though I was American he still thought I was “one cool cat.” Thanks Dennis, right back at you.

The boat which took us across Lake Victoria to the Source of the Nile.

Today we ventured down to the Source of the Nile which was stunningly serene, if that’s even possible (I’ll post a picture eventually). We climbed into a rather shaky wooden boat, where if one person would have shifted their weight too much in one direction, there could have been a short documentary produced about the backpack journalism crew swimming through Lake Victoria. There was a moment when we pulled into shore from the boat, and a Ugandan man was filming us on his phone as we arrived. At first I thought “This is odd,” then I looked down at the camera strapped to my own neck. The shoe was officially on the other foot, or I guess in this case the eyes were on the other side of the lens.

As Long as You Love Me” and “Last Christmas” played at the first restaurant we ate dinner at. Backstreet Boys and Christmas music, two things I generally associate with Africa. It was a nice reminder of home (and who doesn’t love boy bands and out of season Christmas music?), but at the same time an interesting display of just how far the United States influence travels.

Those are just a view tidbits of all the images that have crossed my path in these past two days and I’m sure it’s only the beginning. Tomorrow is going to be another long day on our trusty bus, but every day is a new adventure here and I can’t really complain about that.

Keep on keepin’ on,

Gabby

p.s. Yes, this does indeed happen every morning as the sun comes up. Just kidding. Or am I? I guess you all need to take a trip down here to find out!

“Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” -Roald Dahl