Sunday, September 30, 2012

Kulikayo, Welcome Home!

It is hard for me to believe we are in October. The last two months have been a whirlwind of emotion, experiences, and travel. I have heard from many of my readers that I need to update my blog. Before I get back into the flow of documenting my Ugandan observations, I want to recap what I have done in the last two months to get you all up to speed!

Early August:
My boyfriend came to visit me in Uganda. This was a huge deal for both of us, and due to the many personal facets of such an event, I will only say that we were able to cover a lot of ground in Uganda. He visited this Lukaya project/family and my dormitory/family in Mukono, we saw a Rhino sanctuary, did a three-day game drive, saw the source of the Nile, and we even had a date in Kampala that included pizza and a movie! All in all, we did a lot of driving and catching up!
Dan and I with the same Joseph I fell in love with summer of '11

On my way back to the States, I was fortunate enough to have a 23.5-hour layover in London. This turned out to be perfectly timed because most of the chaos of the Olympics was over, but the great international atmosphere and Olympic landmarks were still present in the city. I had a great time doing some sightseeing, eating, and processing the previous six months while walking around one of the greatest cities in the world.
Olympic rings at the Tower Bridge

Back home I was able to see dozens of friends and family members. I made it to the beach on a day trip with my boyfriend. I think I only ate a couple of home-cooked meals because I went out to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner almost every day! Six months of village life made me really miss coffee, milkshakes, and options. OH and a lot of beer on tap was consumed. COLD beer cannot be beat.

Beginning of September:
I had the lovely opportunity to visit my little sister in Chicago, where she is currently starting her first year at University. It was great to see her new turf and be able to visit with her before leaving the country again. I was fortunate enough to have made a connection with a wonderful woman while in Uganda who let me stay with her during that visit. It is a small world if we let it be!
Alyson and I at the Bean in Chicago

After Chicago, I had another great opportunity to spend a couple of days in New Jersey with the Directors of Real Partners Uganda. I was able to meet several key players in the organization as well as catch up with the Griswolds. They took me out to Atlantic City and although I didn’t see Barney from HIMYM anywhere, we did enjoy a stroll on the board walk, a quick lesson on the Poker Machine, and a wonderful Cuban dinner. I even got to have breakfast at the shore, which clinched my goal to visit three of the world’s oceans in less than four months!
Atlantic Ocean in New Jersey

Late September:
My reunion in Uganda was perfect! The children seemed so thrilled that I had returned. Many of the people in town recognized me and greeted me in Luganda by saying Welcome Back/Home. My neighbors, John Robert and Ruth (headmaster at the school and his wife, a teacher at our school) made sure that I was well fed for the first days back—since I was visibly weak and exhausted from America/travel. My program got off to a great start with the use of sticker mustaches for all the kids/teachers in the Health Team. I found it much easier to re-adjust to a life of irregular power and water than it was to adjust to constant anything-I-ever-want-of-anything in America. The girls in the apartment complex can’t seem to get enough snuggle time with me. I swear they will just about re-fuel their urge to hug me, sit on my lap, and play with me by the time I have to leave again. I can’t really say anything bad about my return to Lukaya. I am pleased to be back at work—though I have much to do in the way of transitioning my programs to Ugandan-hands. I think the next several months will be productive and worthwhile for everyone on the Team in Lukaya.

First day back with Mustard Seed Health Team

My Reflection:
As wonderful as it was to be home and to see my loved ones, it was not entirely easy for me. I constantly had an overwhelming feeling that I no longer belong in that picture. I’m sure if I was home for a long period of time that feeling would dwindle and I would eventually forget all the gory details of a life in Uganda. However, my mind and heart were too aware that my visit home was brief and I was not able to put aside what I had learned and experienced in the village in order to relax in America.

I frequently experienced moments with friends and family in which they acted in such a way that initially shocked me…then upset me…then disappointed me…then I always came full circle to a feeling of frustration with myself for feeling shocked/upset/disappointed with people who are acting exactly the same way I once behaved. What gives me the right to point out something they are doing that is an excessive use of materials, or wasteful of food/resources, or making statements that are neglectful of people like those in Uganda. Don’t we as Americans deserve (to some degree or another) many of these behaviors?

In the end, I had to conclude that I was the one who had changed. My world-view has been altered forever. I cannot, and will not work to make those around me feel guilty or upset about the way they live their lives because at the end of the day I must accept that many Americans are privileged. And there are many perks and lifestyles that come with that—at no fault of theirs. 
What I also must keep in mind (because the two go hand-in-hand) is that many more people around the world are not privileged. And there are many more disadvantages and lifestyles that come with that.

Today more than ever before, I am certain that I am where I am supposed to be in life and doing exactly what I was created to do. I cannot make the world a fair and perfect world for all its inhabitants, but I can live my life in such a way that merges the fair with the unfair, privileged with the unprivileged, and developed with the developing.

With love,

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful summary. I admire your self-reflection, dedication, and overall optimism coupled with compassion and understanding. You da best!