Pictured Above: The road to Vera Gardens Inn
Ugandans do not smile, they laugh. And when they laugh it is something of power and joy. I am now in Rukungiri, a district and town in the Southwest of Uganda. It is much smaller and quieter than the capital, Kampala, where I began my journey. The people of Rukungiri are inviting and appreciative. When you try to speak the local language of Rukiga, they laugh because they are appreciative of the effort and happy for the invitation of conversation. Although faces may be stern, their minds and hearts are open to knowledge and friendship.
I have been introduced to the Foundation for Community Development and Empowerment (FCDE) team in Uganda and I have never felt so supported, protected and appreciated. The members are Sylvia, Barnabas, Esther and Goma. Already I see the roles of a family as I look at the team. Sylvia as our caring mom, Barnabas as our protective older brother, Esther as our inspiring sister and Goma as our lively uncle. Each play vital roles in the makeup of the organization as they ensure our internship is effective as well as provide support and assurance to 16 local partner organizations (LPO’s) in developing towards a brighter, more sustainable future.
We are located in an office over looking a corn field, the main road, schools and bright green hills. On my walk to the office, I have made a new friend, a cute white and black goat who is always busy eating away at fallen corn leaves. The office is beautiful, all the tables are wood and sunshine is always peeking its way through the windows. The past two days, Marlen and I, are experiencing orientation, which involves interactive presentations of safety measures, obstacles, cultural do’s/dont’s and information about our organizations and the community. We have been given detailed work plans, schedules and our LPO’s goals towards development and their weaknesses of where they hope to improve. On Tuesday an HIV/AIDs specialist from the Ugandan government is presenting on the current state and issues of HIV/AIDs in Rukungiri to our organization. And on that very day, as I am waiting in anticipation, I will finally meet my LPO, RUCOHE, and begin work. The first week we plan to conduct a baseline survey examining the HIV/AIDs related knowledge of the community in Rukungiri. From there we will move forward in proposing an income generating program.
In conclusion, Ernest Hemingway wrote “I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up and was not happy.” And I could not agree more. At 6 in the morning, a Rukungiri rooster yells good morning and I wake up aflame by the African sun, although it is hot, it brings nothing but hope and happiness.
Webare! (Thank you)
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