By Brix Ottaway
I have been trying to find the right words to express my thoughts and feelings about Uganda and my experience there, but nothing seems to properly express the beauty of the country and the people in it. Having been dreaming of a trip like this since I was a kid, its hard to put into words, but it met, no it exceeded every expectation I could possibly have had.
Getting to work with people like Leslie who runs The Real Uganda, though she is from Canada, loves the country like those born to it, and Valance who runs Youth First Africa (YOFAFO) and hosted us in his home, was more than I could have asked. Not to mention Caitie and Alice who were behind us every step of the way, teaching and inspiring us ever second, and my amazing fellow Youth Ambassadors, who are truly some of the best people I have ever met, and are inspiring, beautiful change makers, and leaders. I was the eldest of the group, which at first worried me, and while I occasionally acted the mum, wanting to look after them all, they were all so mature and intelligent that I feel I wasted time when I was 16 like many of them. Then there were the beautiful women and children, who welcomed us into their homes, schools, and hearts with song, dance and a smile that would make my day. They taught me so much not only about themselves and their lives, but about myself, and it was a pleasure to work with and learn from them.
Simply landing in Uganda (after such a long journey I might add) was enough for me to fall in love with the country and want to return as soon as possible, knowing from that moment that one week would not be enough. Just watching people going about their everyday lives, threw the windows of our masterfully driven bus, was astounding, and I could have sat there for days just learning from observation.
For me, the true beauty of Uganda was found in working.
In feeling the mud between my fingers and toes as we helped to build a rabbit hut, and the slight ache in my back after spending the day digging, and carrying children or water. In seeing people step out of their comfort zones and taking a literal leap of faith from a zip lining tree, and hearing the touching stories of a man loving his forest and feeling the need to educate himself on its ecosystem, or the women who have 15 children, and the women who have lost children.
I will treasure that week for the rest of my life, and I will be working my way back until I am in the mud once more, in the presence of such happiness, pride and beauty.
One day I will return, and I can’t wait.
P.S. A special thank you to the GYA Program for giving me this chance, and such wonderful people to share it with, and Caitie and Alice who experienced it along side us.
To support the Uganda Project please visit our fundraising page at http://www.gvnfundraising.org/gyapuganda16