These past few days have been a whirlwind of an adventure. Landing in Uganda was such a thrill, especially getting off the plane and inhaling the smell of what my heart has come to associate with joy– the smokey must and body odor of the third world. Normally this would not be the least bit delightful to me but it brought back good memories of the joy I witnessed in Burma and Cambodia.
The drive from Entebee to Lira was seven hours, which was a lot of time to soak in the surroundings. The diversity of Uganda is what struck me the most. The city was bustling, with dirt filled streets and stores that were oddly advertisements as well. (Buildings were covered in red paint and the white Coca Cola logo was plastered on. Pictures will come when I get back). People were dressed in anything from suits and dresses to traditional clothing to rags. As we drove through the rural areas, I got to see the beauty of Africa. The land is just a vast beautiful jungle with the sky stretching farther than that. The houses that we passed were mud huts but we did also pass some tin slums.
We finally got to the hotel in Lira. We are in the middle of nowhere and we wandered around the neighborhood and met the most beautiful children. We are definitely in Africa. As much as we look like spectacles to the locals, the people here are also different from what we’re used to seeing in the US. Skinny, dirt covered children were dressed in raggedy, filthy, torn clothes and wandered down the dirt roads carved out through the bushes.
Our group started taking pictures of the neighborhood children and immediately sparks flew and joy flew out from their faces. They LOVED seeing themselves in our cameras and had so much fun making faces and posing with us. Even though they have very little, their joy was infectious. It was a lovely moment where two cultures collided.
Another observation that I’ve had (that many of us have had) of Africa is that there are SO MANY BUGS. I have never seen so many bugs in my life. We are in a sense like bugs ourselves. We fly around looking like strange creatures in a different world, observing what we see. (It never ceases to amaze me how backwards my life in the US is.) As a bug you can see things in a magnified vision, making the big things like poverty much more obvious than a TV screen presents in the states. But you also are put in a natural environment where you can see things for what they are. There have been multiple moments in the few days I’ve been here where such great moments have presented themselves.
Among them was an African dance party. The hotel booked a local dance troupe to perform for us, which was great. But afterwards, someone turned up the music and everyone got up and danced together.
This is a moment where the strange pale bugs from the US got squashed. In a carefree moment, the division between bugs and Africans disappeared and we all just became human.
There are SO many more moments to blog about but there are not enough hours in a day to do so when you’re in Africa. So I’ll leave you with a “Stay tuned for next time” list to look forward to. (Google these things. It’s awesome)
Interviews with Mama Angelina, the Concerned Parents Association (CPA), and Rachele Secondary School. (A woman whose daughter was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and started the CPA. The school provided education to child soldiers who escaped the LRA.)
“And herein lies a sobering truth: I am free when I am out of control, when I get out of the way and let those walls come down.” –Gary Smith