“Uganda is a fairy tale. You climb up a railway instead of a beanstalk, and at the top there is a wonderful new world. The scenery is different, and most of all the people are different from anywhere else in Africa.” – Winston Churchhill, 1908
Tomorrow I bid farewell (for now) to Ddegeya Village and Engeye (www.engeye.org). The last nine weeks have flown by, as I knew they would. In this, my second trip to Uganda, my love for this beautiful country and its joyful, resilient people deepened. Nowhere else do I feel so welcome, so embraced by strangers -strangers who are now sisters, brothers, and aunts. I am impressed by the diligence, dedication, and compassion of the Engeye Clinic staff. Global change begins with individual steps, and the staff at Engeye creates positive change everyday. I am inspired by the eagerness, intelligence, and potential of my adolescent students. They immediately accepted me as their teacher and never failed to amaze me with their willingness to learn. They are like sponges, ready to absorb whatever I present to them. They are indeed the future of their country, and that future is bright.
Tomorrow I leave Ddegeya, but not Uganda quite yet. This is a bittersweet departure, as I reluctantly leave one Ugandan family and excitedly return to another. Tomorrow, I travel across southern Uganda to Bujagali Falls and S.O.U.L. (www.souluganda.org). Last summer, I spent one month living and working in Bujagali. I look forward to connecting with my original Ugandan family, and witnessing the progression of S.O.U.L.’s education and economic programs.
Because this is my second trip here, I know the sadness, almost depression, I will feel when I return home to Portland, OR, next week. Not that I don’t love my city and miss it when I am away, but there is a particular kind of grief one feels when leaving Africa, as anyone who has spent time here knows. I know well the poignancy of the moment when I wash the last bit of red clay off my feet. I know how deeply I will miss not only the faces and scenery, but also the sounds and smells of Uganda. The longing will bring me back here. I am certain.