Today I awoke to the sound of my cell phone alarm. As a college student who loves sleep, I grudgingly turned it off and got out of bed. I have grown to hate the sound of that ring, not because the musical tone is annoying but because I am conditioned to associate that sound with the rude awakening from blissful sleep.
When people in the U.S. hear the word “Africa,” they experience a similar aversion. “Africa” triggers images of disease, poverty and dying children. It is the rude awakening from blissful ignorance and complacency.
Uganda is a place with a long history and while the people of Uganda may suffer from the above stereotypes, I don’t believe that that is all that defines them and am excited to look beyond the stereotypes and find out what Uganda actually is. I refuse to hit the “snooze” and go back to sleep, ignoring reality.
I was interested in taking this backpack journalism course because I love to get thrown into new experiences, even if it means getting slapped around a bit after seeing the raw realities of the world. In my own experiences traveling to other third world countries like Burma and Cambodia I have been a witness to absolute poverty but also absolute joy in the midst of it.
Waking up is the hardest part. Waking up requires becoming aware of reality. Waking up is acknowledging your ignorance. Waking up requires visible action. But waking up gives us the joy of living life free of dull apathy.
While I expect to hear of past suffering and see present struggles in Uganda, I know that there is power and resilience in the human spirit and this is what I am most looking forward to seeing in whatever way, shape, or form it comes in.
It’s time for the morning to begin.