The Uganda that I came to know was one filled with beautiful rolling green hills, clay dirt roads, one-way highways, majestic lakes, warm days and perfectly temperate evenings. The Uganda that I came to know was filled with the liveliest streets jampacked with boda bodas, cars, matatus, people on foot and an outdoor market at every side. The Uganda that I came to know was filled with the most beautiful and warm people, ones that were always happy to see you, ones that always made you feel “most welcomed”. The Uganda that I came to know was filled with the most adorable children in the most perfect school uniforms, the politest children that would curtsy upon receiving a gift of a lollipop, and the friendliest children that would give you a hug after meeting you for only a few minutes. The Uganda that I came to know was filled with a capital city that had an energy that was palpable. A city that was always alive no matter the time of day, a city where you could stare out the window of your uber just mesmerized by the sights and sounds of the city swarming around you. The Uganda that I came to know was filled with a people who are among the hardest working people that I have ever seen. A people in which everyone is trying to make a living, day in and day out. It is normal that one’s house also doubles as a canteen or our equivalent of a “corner store”. Whether you are selling sodas and “mobile money” or going to work at a hospital, everyone is working. The Uganda that I also came to know is one where the government provides little support, employs few employees but that still does not stop the hustle and hard work of its people. The Uganda that I came to know is filled with the most perfect avocados, the sweetest mangos, the juiciest pineapples, and an incredibly vegetarian friendly way of life. The Uganda that I came to know, although filled with many unmet needs and limited resources, the resourcefulness and ingenuity of its people was truly remarkable and something that I had never witnessed before. The Uganda that I came to know takes their tea time incredibly seriously and understands that life will continue to go on even if you take a break to enjoy the company of your colleagues and a nice a cup of tea. The Uganda that I came to know was one that 95% of the time its people assumed I was also Ugandan. To say that it meant so much to me that I was initially considered a local, would be the biggest understatement of the century. The Uganda that I came to know was not one that was pictured in the news over the past couple of weeks with the unfortunate kidnapping (and now return) of a US tourist and her tour guide. The Uganda that I came to know never caused me to feel unsafe in any way that was different from any city or country that I have lived in or traveled to. The Uganda that I came to know welcomed the paths that our feet would take, thoughts that our minds would reflect upon, words that we would discuss, and emotions that our hearts would feel. The Uganda that I came to know took us in and helped shape a different and evolving perspective on what it truly means to be a global citizen, and how our goal should always be sustainability over savior syndrome. The Uganda that I came to know challenged me, cultivated me, and created me into a better version of myself in only 6 short weeks. The Uganda that I came to know caused me to leave a little piece of my heart as well as literal roots, and anxiously looking forward to the day when I can hear the words “You are most welcome” again.
A few pictures of our last couple of weeks and our host family <3