Kopango

We’re finally in Gulu after a long, bumpy ride from Lira this morning. I seriously questioned whether or not we were actually in a river a few times because there was so much flowing water on the roads. We spent the entire drive making bracelets for each other and for Herbert and our trusty driver, Fred (who fearlessly battled the bumpy “roads”). Today was light and full of laughs and good music, which was quite a difference from how our day went yesterday, which was filled with confusion and frustration. 

We visited two refugee camps that were for formerly internally displaced people (IDP). Each person there has been through more trauma than everyone I know combined. They told us stores about the nights they were attacked by the LRA and how much their lives have changed. They have absolutely nothing. Their lives consist of sitting around amid a ton of red dust and a few huts. There are too many children to even comprehend, which only makes me wonder how much stress the mothers have and how many men father each of their children. They’re all beautiful, of course, and for the most party they seem happy, but that’s only because they can’t comprehend what their lives are like and what their futures hold… which isn’t much. 

At both camps, we collected money and gave away gifts that we had collected prior to leaving Omaha. The first refugee camp was a bit of a fiasco. We had intended to leave the things at the camp so they could be distributed later, but somehow we ended up surrounded by everyone in the camp screaming, crying, pushing, and shoving, trying to get a hold of what they could. It was so frustrating and heartbreaking. Humans can turn so horrible when faced with so much desperation. We left the first camp in silence and prepared to go to the second IDP camp, which wasn’t quite as intense. At the end of the day, we drove a good hour–maybe it was two, I’ve lost track of how long it takes to get places–and we finally returned home. The entire bus literally cheered when we pulled into our hotel. 

Today was significantly better because we didn’t really do much, which was needed. The hotel we’re at in Gulu is beautiful, and I think we all feel a little guilty being pent up inside of a big, important gate while there are huts right outside of our doors. It’s so interesting how that all works. 

I feel like I have so much more to say, but my mind is fried, so here are the thoughts I’ve generated over the last couple of days in a nutshell:

1. The government in Africa sucks. 

2. We are so lucky that we were born in the US. I literally feel like I won the lottery of all lotteries. 

3. Kopango (spelling questionable) is the typical greeting here. 

4. It’s frustrating to me that the LRA has done so many horrible things to these people, are still doing horrible things to people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and still have not been caught. Why isn’t anyone doing something about this? 

5. Women here do everything. I don’t think I’ve seen one man carrying a baby. They’re always sitting around while the women are caring for the children or cooking dinner or carrying giant loads of wood on their backs. It’s annoying. 

6. Fred likes country. Hilarious, right?

7. No matter how much sunscreen I put on, I still get sunburned here (don’t freak out, mom, it’s really not that bad).

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