I’ve been wanting to blog about my time in Uganda but it’s been difficult. Mostly because the feelings and thoughts I have for the people there seem so big and the words I have are so small. But here’s me giving it a shot:
Uganda is beautiful. Kampala is a city born from a lush jungle, full of high rolling hills green as the thousands of banana trees that dominate the landscape. The people of Uganda are happy and hopeful, even in the most desperate situations. They carry about them a glowing joy that fills their singing and shines through brilliant toothy smiles. They’re a people who have learned to adapt, and they live and laugh in the moment. Ugandans love to dress up and can be very dignified in the least dignified of circumstances. It isn’t unusual to see a suit clad gentleman trucking through the trenches of Kampala’s dusty red clay on a motorbike, with his woman, dressed to the nines, always riding side saddle.
I met hundreds of children who love to sing, dance, and drum. Children who love to play soccer and dream of growing up to be doctors and lawyers. But children in Uganda regularly die from diarrhea and other conditions that wouldn’t even get an American kid excused from class. Most of the kids I met didn’t know their fathers. Many of the mothers we met were living with HIV and worried about what would happen to their children after they were gone. More than once we ask a child what he/she wanted to be when they grew up and they told us that they’d never thought about it because they had HIV.
My first reaction to Africa was one of awe at the beauty of the people and the land. But following close behind was an underlying feeling of anger and frustration. How can such a dignified people, so rich in grace and culture also be so completely marginalized?
I wish I had a great way to “wrap this one up”, but the truth is that it’s almost impossible to bring any resolve to this blog when I’m totally unresolved in my heart. Meaning that it’s difficult to think about how my Starbucks budget alone can feed a kid for a year, and my car payment can send a young Ugandan man or woman to law or medical school. I guess what I would have to say is that it isn’t the level of poverty that blows me away it’s our level of ignorance.
Don’t feel guilty. Feel informed. Feel empowered. And for God’s sake do something about it.
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