Tag Archives: #Uganda2K12 #Backpack

Hakuna Matata

Today started out with a cup of coffee and a plan and ended with a lukewarm beer and a “hakuna matata.” What was supposed to be a 30-minute introduction turned into two hours. Three musical performances turned into seven performances, a skit, a ceremony during which Dr. O’Keefe was made an elder of the tribe and each of us planting trees.


So what if we got zero of three planned interviews done for the documentary? We had an amazing day–one of the best of my life.


The people of Ave Maria (a school in Lira) have got to be some of the most welcoming people in the world. A third of the children we met at the school today are HIV positive and are war orphans. It’s easy to forget that last part.


There was a toddler today (probably about one and half) who was absolutely beautiful. She was gnawing on a piece of sugar cane the entire time we were there. She wandered over to where I was sitting and we hung out for a good half an hour during the skit, which was entirely in their tribal language and therefore incomprehensible.


While we were watching the skit, she was trying as hard as she could to break her sugar cane. Her efforts were absolutely adorable, however futile. Finally, she just bit off a chunk and spit it out into her hand. She then proceeded to hold out the bite-sized piece of sugar cane and offer it to me. To say it melted my heart is a vast understatement. This sugar cane is probably the only thing the girl had to eat today, and she wanted to share it with me.

How can a people who have so little give away what little they do have? I think it’s because they just understand what it means to be human, even from the beginning.

Even sitting in church on Sunday, the acceptance of human nature was readily apparent. Women were breastfeeding and the reader reached under his robe to adjust his junk in the middle of reading a Psalm. Why are these things not okay in America? Comfort and nourishment are basic human needs, but we’re ashamed to address them unless we’re out of the public eye.

If we could just accept that we’re all humans, maybe we could stand in a kind of solidarity and we could offer the same unwarranted kindness. Actually, why does kindness have to be warranted at all? Nobody needs to earn kindness, and I think that’s something I learned from the Ave Maria people.

There’s America time, where you’re busy doing something that seems urgent and simultaneously thinking of the next thing you’ll be doing that’s equally as urgent. America time leaves no time to appreciate the people you’re with or to accept them as human beings.

There’s Africa time, where you take time to appreciate the beauty, the silence and the company you have and where the moments stretch into days.

Today, we made the welcome, full transition from America time to Africa time. Hakuna matata.

Back the Farm View Hotel

We arrived in Lira last night at the Farm View Resort, which is run by Florence and John. We stayed here last here, and they are great hosts. It is a bit outside of town, but restful and we basically take over the whole place.  The internet it spotty: last night it looked like it would not work at all, but I fiddled with the settings on the access point and voila, we are plugged back into the world.

Today is our first day of shooting video for our new film. Hopefully it will go well. Two of our students have experience with percussion. We are hoping that they will be able to jam with some of the Ugandan drummers. I’ll let you know how it goes.


A little over a year ago I was granted the opportunity to go to a place that many people only hear about, yet live to see.  Since that year I have only yearned to go back as soon as possible and that time is now within hours away.

My first ever trip out of the country, let a lone plane ride, was to the beautiful country of Uganda.  I remember everything that was going through my mind the days, hours, and minutes before landing in Africa for the first time; it is something that I will never forget.

It did not really hit me until our first day of meeting that I was going to be going back to the place that I have thought about every day for the past year.  It seems unreal in some aspects because who would have thought that a 23 year old from the small town of St. Edward Nebraska, would have the opportunity to go to a place such as Uganda two years in a row.

We have a whole new group of students going this year and I am very excited about it because I believe our group chemistry so far has been outstanding.  It takes a lot for a group of students who barely know each other to come together and be expected to travel with each other to a different country for two weeks; but something tells me that it will not be a problem at all.  Do not get me wrong, the group of students that I went with last year were amazing because I made so many great friends that I will always remember, not only because it was our first Ugandan experience together; but because just being with everyone and getting to know them was a great and fun time in its own. I also know that each and every one of them would love to go back with us this year if they could which says a lot in my book.

However, the emotions that I am feeling right now are ones that are actually very hard for me to put into words for you to read.  Heck, I can not even put them into cohesive and reasonable thoughts because there’s so much going on in my mind right now.  I am anxious, excited, nervous, etc….I guess you could compare me to a little school girl who is getting ready to go on a date with her first crush.  I mean these last couple of days I catch myself smiling for no reason other than the fact that I am thinking about going back to Uganda.

All in all, I’m ready, oh so ready to go back emotionally.  Physically is not the same case because a year ago I would have been packed and would have double checked my baggage at least four times.  However, I have yet to put anything in a suit case and still need to go to Target to get all of my awesome travel size gear (thanks a lot network tv for showing Cool Runnings; which I have not seen in ages).  The only thing I am really worried about is not packing enough white v-necks and boxers; oh yea, and my malaria medication and contacts and glasses and ipod and converter and books and pens and notebooks and sunscreen and bug spray and camera (as you can tell I am making my list of things I need now)…..anyways, talk with you all soon!

My very first picture taken in Uganda 2011