Monday, July 12, 2010

What I've Learned from the People of Uganda

I feel like an appropriate “last week” blog post would be a discussion of what I’ve learned this summer. I’ve been taught so much from the many people I’ve come in contact with this summer and they deserve some recognition.

Freddie – My man Freddie is the greatest boda boda driver on the face of the earth. He’s no ordinary boda boda driver though. His honesty and devotion sets him apart from most of the people I’ve come in contact with during my short 19 years of life. Freddie has been the best friend I could ask for. He’s always willing to help, translate, and direct us where we need to go, and with that he never asks for more than he deserves. In fact, I’m pretty sure he always asks for less than what he deserves. Freddie is also a very devoted man. He sets his dear wife, Peace, on the highest pedestal he can find and is so proud of his family and the life he’s made for them. He taught me how important it is to be dedicated, devoted, and honest in all of my dealings with my fellow man. If Freddie wasn’t around, I would not have been able to accomplish anything this summer.

Edith – If you want excellent, homemade, Ugandan meals, Edith is the gal for you. If you want a lively, fun, loving young woman as a friend, Edith surpasses all descriptions and expectations. She is a gentle woman who simply loves to be around people. Whenever I need to talk to someone, Edith is always there. She is also an exceptionally honest person who has given me a real glimpse into how Uganda really works. Edith has taught me to always smile for pictures because I look prettier that way. She’s also taught me the meaning of patience and diligence as I’ve helped her prepare meals over charcoal stoves for 3 hours. I’m going to miss her dearly.

David – Best guard ever. David is a kind and caring man who is very devoted to our team here in Mukono. He is always concerned about how we are doing and if we are safe. But, my favorite thing about David is his personality. He’s very funny and a practical joker. Between lurking in the shadows to scare us and sitting around the fire telling stories, David has taught me how to enjoy life and to love everyone I meet.

Alex – Alex is a primary six student at Crane Preparatory School which is around the corner from our house. I knew we were destined to be friends because we have the same name (or at least the entire student population at Crane is under the impression that my name is also Alex). He is one of the sharpest ten year olds I’ve ever met. Children in Uganda don’t start learning English until primary four (4th grade) so when I first had a conversation with Alex, I was astonished at how articulate he is. He’s more eloquent than most fourth graders I’ve met in the United States. Within a few hours of meeting Alex it was easy to recognize that he is a leader, but sometimes he can be the trouble maker. For whatever reason, he is not mischievious at all with us. He always wants to help me and has acted as a translator more times than I can count. Everyone has different talents that can benefit every person that surrounds them. Without my bright, intriguing friend Alex, Crane Preperatory School would have been a disaster for the HELP International team. Because of Alex I have decided that I will always strive to assist others with whatever talents I have to offer.

Brian - Favorite person in all of Uganda. If I have a crush on anyone, it’s Brian. He is absolutely fantastic. Brian is a secondary school student who is at the level of a high school junior, but he’s 20 years old. Don’t let his age throw you off. He, like Alex, is incredibly sharp and really on top of things. He’s a little behind finishing secondary school because it’s so expensive, but he desperately wants to make a better life for himself and his future family. Brian is a talented artist, and a service-driven young man. I admire his passion for helping others, but more than that, I admire his positive attitude that penetrates everything he does. Whenever I am at his school (Mukono Town Academy), he never fails to make me smile. Every once in a while I’ll glance in his direction to see what he’s up to, and several times I’ve caught him dancing for a split second before getting back to work. There’s never any music on, but he dances any way. His smile is infectious and his optimistic attitude is enough to make anyone believe they can fly. Brian taught me how to lift others up through my own gifts and attitude. Helping others feel true happiness within their hearts is more fulfilling than anything else I’ve done this summer.

Diana-This faithful young woman is an inspiration to everyone she meets. Diana hasn’t been baptized as a member of my church, but tries her hardest to come to church every Sunday. The one problem is that she lives with her abusive uncle who beats her if he finds her at church. But, somehow she always makes an appearance, even if it’s at the very end. The most amazing part is how happy she is! If I was her, I’d be pretty miserable because I’d always be wondering when I would be beat next or how badly he would hurt me. Diana isn’t like that at all. She never worries about it; well, maybe she does, but she certainly doesn’t show it. She just loves to be at church and loves God with all of her heart. Diana has taught me how to be faithful and to fight for what I believe in no matter what the consequences.

I wish I had pictures of all of these people to show you, but I don’t right now. By the end of the week I will have pictures, and I will update this post so you all can put faces with names and descriptions of some truly incredible people.

Over and Out.


PS. I'm safe and completely out of the way of Kampala where everything happened on Sunday.