Week one complete. I’ve had the opportunity to come to Uganda 6 times now. Each time I come with a new lens, absorbing new information, and taking it back to America to process. It’s funny how familiar Uganda is to me now. Before this trip I thought I forgot everything. How to ride a boda, “speak Ugandan”, but most importantly feel relaxed in a place that can be very chaotic, unpredictable, and sometimes dangerous. This trip is a bit different as I am staying with Ugandans. I did not think much of this but any Ugandan I speak with is shocked to hear I am mostly eating Ugandan food, taking baths using a bucket, and washing my own clothes.
Walking down Main Street I am spotted by many old friends, 99% Ugandan. I spend my day visiting their homes, inquiring about their children, and updates on my life. The barriers between boss and employee are slowly eroding into more of an equal partnership relationship. I could not do the work I do without them and I hope they know this.
Just across the street from where I am staying there is a group of westerners that I can go make friends with at anytime but for now I prefer making animal noises with the 4 Ugandan children I am living with all under the age of 7. I have more in common with this community now than I do with the 18-22 year old Americans, Europeans, and Australians that are in Uganda for the first time. As much as I love being the mama and showing the newbies around this trip has given me the opportunity to dig deeper into Ugandan culture and really discover all the differences and commonalities. We are all watching terrible American television, battling old eating habits and the change to a more sedentary life. White people are here too pretending we are equal and that handwork will overcome any obstacle. I am hooted a hollered at for my big cabina just as I am in Harlem. My comfort zone is now just a shadow.
As dreams of returning, starting a family of my own here in Uganda run through my head cultural issues as well as economic issues arise. How to give my children what they need but not all they want? How to give my children a diverse experience, befriending other children and families of various situations without judgement or jealousy. I think it comes down to communication. I think I am known for speaking my mind, perhaps what I say may be a bit controversial at times, but it comes from a place of love, curiosity, and the need to bring people together. As I sit with my Ugandan family watching The Voice, Blackish, and other American media I realize the issues of equality that are ever so present in Uganda are now almost equality as present in America. No matter where I settle I will have to deal with inequality and its many faces and challenges. Thats all for now… the processing continues.