“Uganda is a special place, for special people, with special hearts”
When Will said this and I used it as a theme for my blog yesterday, I didn’t realize how much of a role this would play today as well. Yesterday was great and I enjoyed seeing another side of Uganda, but it was nothing compared to today.
Today was very different from the rest of the trip. It started at 9 am. The mentors showed up one by one to pick up their respective students. Sean and I were picked up by Leonard. Honestly, going into it, I was worried. I really didn’t know Leo well and I didn’t know what to expect. It didn’t help that even Will said he didn’t know anything about Leo’s house or what we would be doing. The first thing we did was meet his family. His wife was very nice and a very good cook. His four year old daughter was incredibly cute and was a huge hit when the other groups were around. Next, we visited St. Mary’s hospital. It is the biggest hospital outside of Kampala. Leo’s nephew had just been released from it after three months. Leo showed Sean and I around the hospital a bit. The first thing I noticed was the amount of people lining the halls. There had to be at least one hundred people in the hallway and courtyard we walked through. They were all waiting for loved ones or family and friends to be released. Others were waiting to be admitted. It was really sad to see so many people but it also made me glad to see that the sick people in the hospital had someone to care for them when they were released.
After a short walk around, we went inside the children’s ward. One of the most heartbreaking sounds I have ever heard was the crying coming from that ward. I immediately regretted going in at first. It made me very sad to walk through and see all those kids and know that I couldn’t do anything about it. The only thing that got me through it was knowing that this was their best shot at getting better. They were getting the best medical treatment available to them. When we left, we passed a playground. It was amazing to me to see how happy those kids on the playground were. They had every reason to be in a horrible mood and pout. Instead, there were out and making the best of a bad situation.
After leaving the hospital, we went to his grandmother-in-law’s house. We did some random things like cutting vegetables and helping prepare some food. It all went pretty well until I sliced my finger. That put an end to my perspective third-world-chef career. As fun as the morning was, the afternoon blew it away.
After lunch, we met up with Innocent, his group (Brooke, Beth, and Abby), and two of Innocent’s friends. There were both amazing and hilarious and kept me laughing the whole afternoon. We all went fishing. Except is wasn’t like you would imagine. It was less catching fish, more getting laughed at by local 8 year olds as we stabbed the water with a hook tied to a tree branch up to the knee in muddy water. Although it didn’t go to well, it was still loads of fun. It always helps to be with a hilarious group like Innocent, Pepito, and Ronald. They had all met through Invisible Children while touring the US.
After fishing, we went to Innocents house for some food. From one delicious meal to the next, we headed to Leo’s house for another home cooked meal. Between the three home cooked meals we had, it was the best day of eating we had so far.
The crazy thing to think about is that we are going to be back in the US in just a few days. And when we are back home, most likely sleeping for a few days, these are the kind of afternoons we will be dreaming about. In my opinion, it didn’t get any better than that. We were with a great group of people, surrounded by friends, and just enjoying a beautiful day. There are very few days in my life that I can point to and say, “how could this get better?” Today was one of those days. Personally, I couldn’t think of a better way to close out an amazing trip. I already know that a month from now, when I am missing this place, I will be looking at the pictures we took of this day and just wishing we could all be back in that one moment, for just a little longer.
I have always been the type of person to go big with a plan. I always shoot for the best and try to do the most physically possible. My problem has always been executing and finding the motivation to follow through on my plans. I feel like this trip is going to be that motivation for me. I have all these huge plans for not only Unified for Uganda but for what I want to do. I feel like after this, my whole outlook on these things will change. The next time I walk into a school and try to start a chapter, it wont be to help so-and-so who lives over in Uganda and needs help. It will be to save the life of a friend. These kids really have become a part of me. I couldn’t image giving anything less than 110% every chance I get. From the moment I return, I will know that everything from that point on is to save the life of someone close to me. Back in December, Connie said that the kid getting on the plane would be the same kid getting off. I never really pictured what that would look like. Now, not only have I accepted it, but I have looked forward to it. I have no doubt that this will not only make me a better person, but also a better student, friend, son, sibling, and U4U representative.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.