Stepping off of the plane from Amsterdam to Uganda, the first thing to hit me was the variety of smells. Everything had its own odor, distinct and potent: the people, the dirt, the air. Altogether it makes something exotic, but almost like a bonfire.
Rich is not a word that many would use to describe Africa. Ever since we have arrived, though, it’s the word that has most often come to my mind. Not only are the smells rich, but the food (the best pineapple I’ve ever had, the rice and the many kinds of chicken), the colors (of the buildings, the clothes, the scenery), and the culture itself run deep with history and tradition.
We get stared at everywhere we go, understandably. Most Ugandans are obviously receptive of us, holding out their hands and proclaiming “you are welcome,” but a few people have seemed offended, almost threatened. Women from outside of the bus have waved knives and bananas at us, like a warning that we don’t belong.
The brilliant smiles on the dirt poor children living around our compound in no way coincide with their surroundings. Not one of them has shoes, and all of their clothes are literally falling apart at the seams.
We take pictures of these children left and right. Sure they get a kick out of seeing their faces on the camera screen, but do they have any idea what happens after we disappear through the rusty gates of our compound with their images in tow?
They don’t know even know what the internet is, how would they feel if they knew that their beautiful faces will be plastered all over Facebook walls?
These kinds of questions are what make the gap between our two worlds increasingly clear. Reaching out to them is one thing, but how can I see the world through their eyes?
With a full stomach, inside the safety of a mosquito net, I realize that in two weeks, I still won’t be able to completely comprehend. A whole lifetime of service would perhaps not even make a dent in the corruption, violence and poverty they face.
That has made me realize how important it is for us to tell this story. If more people know, maybe the power of numbers can make a difference. As we start filming, I think we’re all going into it with a better idea of why we are doing this and who we are representing.
…Also, the internet is very very slow, so we haven’t been getting on email. Sorry to anyone trying to contact me that way, I don’t think I’ll be able to send anything.