I had a long time wishing to go to Africa, to Uganda and work with any organization. I wanted to know if that would be my way, I thought this could be my future and I liked the idea … “for the long run”, but one thing is thinking about it and another thing is doing it. This experience was positive in all aspects, including the negatives. Because here I met so many different people worth knowing, I heard their stories and grew up with them.
I learned about Africa and not just that… I saw it, I lived it. And now, I came back to Mexico and I can say that Africa is not all what people think it is. It is not a country, it is a continent and each country has their own history, their own culture and of course, their own people. It is not all mud and death. There is poverty but there is also lot of dance, there is life.
It, of course, has a dark side. It has a corruption of which I should be used to it now. That there are many people wanting to help but also some people take that role to make good money. Organizations are not as wholeheartedly as generally shown and because of it, I discovered that working on something like that is not what I want. It would be to be in a position of constant struggle with money and two faces people. That what I enjoy is something I already knew but I had to go there to convince me.
Now, what I will miss of Uganda will the friends I made. From different places and with different stories. Just some, of course, I had some differences with others, they were either rude or had this air of haughty that bothered me, it also annoyed me the fact they seemed not to care about what they were supposed to be doing there, that volunteer work was their 2 month vacation. Anyway… I will miss the children, of course, because even though sometimes I wanted to scream and hit them (not in a brutally way, but having to deal with 15 kids running and making a fit out of nowhere was nerve-racking), I did care about them, I learned their names and they mine. I’ll miss them because when I returned from Kenya they ran towards me shouting “Daniela Daniela” and hugged me. For though they did not speak English, they talked with me. And they were very funny and I liked to make them cry and then make them laugh. Since, I didn’t want to make a bond with one particular kid (I didn’t want to make them love me and them I had to go away), I get to rotate with all the children there and get to know everyone of them, not so much the babies because they were always inside the house and sleeping, but the ones with disabilities and the toddlers, oh my, they were my joy. I tried to play with them, carry them, and also teach them english. I liked to read them children books and acted a little so they could laugh. I liked to dance with them, but I tried not to be condescending, this children needs love but they also need to learn to be polite.
I’ll miss walking around Jinja and the reactions of the locals when I spoke in Luganda (the little I know). I even missed to be called mzungu and be popular just by having a different color. Of the organization I will miss two things, the children (as I said) and the aunties, because they took the time to really meet us and establish not only a working relationship with us but maybe a little more. Because they knew our names, where we were from and even some of our life. They took the trouble to ask questions not just ask for money. I’ll miss them because they were teachers and they were friends.
I’ll also miss the weekends away from Jinja, knowing some place new. A place with waterfalls, with a chaotic city, with tons of wild animals or even a place with no electricity but the stars above.
So, if you ask me; What did Uganda give me?
Uganda made me grow. And that is a pretty big thing…