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up up and away, UGANDA THEN MALAWI,1 week in

UGANDA | Thursday, 6 October 2011 | Views [800]

A little faith in humanity ... even in the simplist form. I was on my way. My parents have sent me off at the redmond airport..and I was beginning my 40hour trek across the globe. I first hopped a plane to portlandia and on the way met a woman from the OC. She was relocating to central oregon and loved the high dessert area so we had a connection. She talked to me for hours about her life and mine and told me about her son who was in his 6th year serving the military in afganistan. I said a silent prayer for him and her sanity as I realized how much a parent must worry in a situation like that. I kind of saw how nerveracking it must be for my parents too. She bought me a fruit bowl and we talked about how travel changes lives and how amazing people can be in sticky situations. She was amazing for me too beause I was a bit worried about the 3 hour gap I had at the aiport in LAX. I thought I may get lost between relocating to a new terminal. But she assured me it would be ok.

I was off to LAX now. My seat partner was an older psychologist who tested drugs on people and did research in the USA. He was a very kind australian man and he also assured me that I would be fine at LAX. In fact he could see how nervous I was. I told him I was going to take a taxi but instead he said 'lets go' and he grabbed my luggage and escorted me to the terminal, helped me check in with my flight, and got me all the way to my gate before leaving... They were sooo nice! The trip was great already.

It was late at night now and I was hungry but of course the stingy American airlines dont feed you at all even on an 8hour flight. So I tride to sleep. I arrived in Brussels and found the place very clean and pretty inside the terminals. On the plane, we found that we actually had a 1/3 of the plan filled and so everyone got their own rown to lay down. In 8hours they fed me 2 meals that were gormet style and vegan, besides the yogurt I tried for the first time ever! It wasn't so bad, but I won't be doing that again. But man I was sooo lucky. USA could really learn a thing or two about hospitality.

Finally I arrive in Uganda. Picked up by my dear friend JOJO (the kenya brother of mine). It was soo nice to walk out to the open african air. Warm and soft...besides the occasional blast of petrol. I got to Kin Initiative and had a small dinner with Uncle and JoJo and was sooo excited to share all of the great ideas I had for kin and what Uncle had been doing recently. In the morning, I was shy to see my sisters and brothers who were of course up at 5am cleaning. They were excited to see me too. A great re-union. Outside, the entire complex looked different. There were piles of projects.

There was a well that was near completion and a long line of people there to buy water. Many believe that water should never be sold but we have settled on the middle ground. People here would buy water typically at 25cents, but we offer it at 10cents because we are a community based org so we try to provide low cost means whenever possible. The money that we get, provides food to the children in our orphanage, and the low cost allows the locals to save the money they would be using in the higher priced wells. Much of the well has come through donations from kind people accross the globe and we are so thankful we have this method in our compound now, although we still continue to do water catchment.

The next day, I gave the children their t's that had the KIN logo on them. This was exciting and they looked so fresh. They could now produdly walk around representing our name in the community. It was soo fun to goof around and hang out as a family again. Later that day, JoJo and I built a garden bed with seeds I brought for sunflower, rainbow chard, beets, wildflowers, and spices. It was sooo nice to have the kids get all soily and into the earth. The first round of growth will take a few months so I wont get to see it, but Uncle is a great gardener and will probably make starts from the plants that flourish. The sunflowers will also be providing a protien source for the kids by way of the seeds, not to mention the beauty it sheds in the compound.

We have a volunteer from Germany here. She is an older woman who claims that here experience here has already been mind blowing and its only been a week. She claimed that people back home thinks she's crazy because they would never think to travel to a 3rd world like this, but I am glad she has come out. Luckily, Uncle even just installed a western toilet with a flush and everything, I prefer a latrine (the long drop style)..but she says if she had to use one of those, she would have left after a week...amazing that she didn't research things like this before coming. I am learning to accept her naiive behaviour and know that I too was like that at some point....She has however made several comments that bring me to a place of judgement...Things like "chopping wood is a not a womans work" or after seeing and outty belly button she says "Don't they realize how abnormal that looks?" I kept my mouth shut until then and I said "you mean abnormal to you". And I walked off. I think she might finally be realizing what it means to be present and aware of the concepts africa holds rather than pushing her agenda. This is something I can also recognize because I have been there. To be a volunteer you do really have to learn how to acclamate to your situation. It's not as easy as some may assume. It takes a subjective attitude and an open heart that is willing to learn.

Anyway on my last day at kin this time, I played with the hula hoop. Willy, the one boy amongst the group was sooo good. He even learned the fundamnetal move that leads all the rest of the tricks. I am so excited for him. He even kept sneeking into play with me. Which is fine because he is the hardest working 12year old I have ever met. I wish I could take him home with me. We sat and did money conversion. He would ask how much it is to fly here, to buy fruit, etc, then we would convert it to Ugandan shillings, then he would lay on the floor in utter amazement. His idea of white life is completely skewed. He even asked about Arnold Schwartzeneger, which was the hardest thing for him to pronounce. He learned of him in school and even thought that his muscles were natural and he had fought monsters in a forest and that they might be real. I was more than happy to provide his reality check. I think his love of America is vanishing as he realizes its not as perfect as hollywood had described. And I am more than grateful for that.

The next day, I squished into an uncomfortable seat in the back of the matatu to entebbe beach where I stayed the night at a backpackers hostel. I rode into town, hopped on my first bodaboda of the trip...man I love those. I settled in, then headed for the beach. Once I saw that most beautiful lake, life couldn't be better. I took a breath of exstacy and dipped my toes into the soft warm freshwater lake. There was not a soul in site. A few hours later, I found myself trying to avoid conversation with 3 16year old boys who were bothering my bathing. I finally gave in and we did a question for question conversation for a few hours. I actually enjoyed it and tried to commit not dismiss the locals like that again. He was sweet and we parted simply happy to have shared a converstation. I could see I was needing re-acclimate to the friendly african style of community. I was excited to experience it.

That night, I found myself waiting for my taxi and a huge storm that blew trees sideways, and I stood soaked to the bone and worried I was going to miss my flight. Africa time is something I know I can never get over. But luckily I was on my way, and an hour ahead of schedule.

Next stop, Malawi. Lake of Stars Festival. Hula Hooping. FUN FUN FUN!!

Tags: entebbe, kin initiative, lake victoria, malawi, uganda

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