Although the last 10 weeks in Uganda were very memorable and gave me a great perspective on another culture, I am very excited to be back in Indiana. I didn't realize how much I missed people until I saw my parents at the airport! On the ride home my dad said he'd never heard me talk so much. I realize that while being in Uganda I had missed out on all the cultural things going on in the Developed World. For instance, my cousin was going on about the iPad when I said, "What's the iPad?" Her response, "Wow, you have been gone a bit." I found it comical. Although, some of you may think it was hard to live in Uganda, it was not so much in terms of my daily lifestyle and in all honesty, there are many things I will miss about Uganda: definitely the musana kids (I will be visiting again in a couple years), the children that always seem excited to see a muzungu, a cool shower on a hot day, the lack on constant media (tv, internet, cell phone) although these things are all present in Uganda it was nice to not have them constantly occupy my time, the ability to walk everywhere, taking a boda "motorcycle" ride whenever I wanted, eating rice daily or grabing a rolex from a street vendor ( this is a flattened, fried piece of dough wrapped around an omelette), the East African rain storms (it's amazing to fall asleep to rain pounding on a tin roof), and the other volunteers.
As far as Uganda goes...there are some cultural things that I experienced that I think it is time to share with everyone.
1) Pets don't work out so well there. The kids don't view them as something to take care of. They would rather throw rocks at them.
2) I saw more livestock there than I ever have in IN. There were chickens, goats, cows, and african sheep running around everywhere. Many nights I saw heards of goats heading home without anyone leading them! They just knew.
3) Uganda is a fertile nation! I've never seen so many babies (animals and people) in one place. You see children taking care of children and they are very independant at a young age. In the US you would never see a 5 year old walking around without an adult. To see a kid walking around with a machete is not surprising. When we slaughtered 2 goats for the musana kids on Easter weekend they all wanted to help! I would have never wanted to watch that at such a young age let alone now.
4) People there are very affectionate. It is very normal to see people walking around holding hands. I was very surprised the first day when I saw men holding hands. There is no romantic feel to the display just simple enjoyment of one anothers company.
5) The hospital there goes without power or running water a lot of times. The unit is comprised of several different wards all one level buildings. There are always people sitting outside the hospital on mats and sometimes preparing food. These people are the caretakers or attendants of the person who has been admitted. Someone is always there to take care of the sick. It's not the hospital's job to feed them and make sure they're comfortable.
6) I was very baffled to see so many kids walking around with shirts but not pants. My thought is I would rather have pants on my kids because they are constantly sitting and playing in the dirt.
7) You can find a soccer game anyday.
8) People collect all their water for cooking and bathing from local wells.
9) Books are a very valued item there. New books are extremely hard to come by.
10) Many government officials work on bribes. ( my whole being jailed and almost deported incident)
11) People are more secretive or shy. Personal information that we may think of as simply making conversation is from my experience not readily shared.
12) Lizards, mice, and bugs are extremely hard to keep out of a house.
13) A lot of people make a living as street vendors (clothes or food or random things)
14) Public transport consists of riding in a jam packed 15 passenger van (around 20 people) with a load of live chickens strapped on top, or on the back of a bicycle or motorcyle. Not many people have their own vehicle.
This trip was an amazing experience. I was blessed so much during my time there with wonderful children. I will miss them so much. I think that if anyone ever has an opportunity to see how a developing nation operates they should take it. It really does change your perspective on a lot of things. If nothing else it gives you a better perspective on the world. This trip has helped me to realize my independence. I've never spent so much time travel alone. At times it was scary but it is very liberating to know I can make it on my own. I even spent a night in London and mastered the subway system! It may not sound scary but it was. Luckily everyone spoke english lol. After this big adventure, next up is the move accross the country to Flagstaff, AZ where I'll be pursuing my Doctorate of Physical Therapy at NAU!
Thanks for following me on this journey!
Until next time...bye for now :)