I’ve written and rewritten this piece about Uganda many times over the past few weeks. Hoping with every shred of humanness in me that you all can read this and know more than anything that I am coming from a place of deep yearning to hear each of you and want to learn alongside you.
Before I say anything else, I’d like to get across the point that I don’t know everything about everything. I’ve made many mistakes and unintentionally hurt or offended many of you with what I considered to be only the best of intentions. Yet what do they say about those? The road to hell is paved with good ones. Or so I’ve been told.
I’m learning every single day as a human being, just like each of you. I do wish I could take back some of the things I’ve said or done, but I can’t.
My first trip to Africa was in 2009 when I visited Kisumu, Kenya. As a 19 year old I was surprised and impressed with the culture and people who gave everything they possessed to make a foreigner like myself feel welcome, yet they had almost nothing. I fell in love with the joy that inhabited every soul I encountered. I fell in love with the simplicity of life. Without distractions and noise.
When I joined @give_international a few years ago to join their trips I immediately was brought back to my first time visiting Africa and felt my heart leap with joy to experience that beautiful part of the world again. In addition to working on projects with their local teams who addressed certain needs within different communities throughout Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.
I think as humans each of us enjoy to some capacity the feeling we get when we ‘help’ others, but it has also caused me to ask myself many questions. Maybe these trips could be viewed as selfish then? Flying half way across the world to appease a part of me that is thinking I’m making a difference. Is it bad to enjoy service? Does it make me self-centered to feel satisfied and joyful after feeding hundreds of kids some breakfast? Does it blow my mind that it only costs $1,000 USD to hire local Ugandan doctors and nurses to treat almost 400 people for HIV and malaria? Is it wrong that I want to raise money every month so that clinics like this can be held year round? I don’t know. I don’t have the answers to all of this.
I’ve thought long and hard on the projects we do while we are there. I’m learning that community development is extremely complex and challenging, but i do believe that partnering with an NGO that has been working in the area for over a decade, and with community-based organizations staffed with local community members definitely helps improve the long-term impact. While I don’t agree with everything, I do believe we have absolutely done the best we can with the present knowledge we had while we were on the trip. This is only @loewhaley and myself’s second year running this particular trip together. I believe as humans we are all students and teachers. We all have qualities we can share to help others grow, and also learn to reap from their knowledge as well.
I want to end this with an open apology for encouraging or promoting white supremacy/white savior complex. Truly, again, it would never be my honest intention to promote those ideals, but I can definitely see how that concept has been conveyed to some of you. I humbly ask for forgiveness from anyone worldwide I have hurt. I’m over here open to ideas, respectful opinions and thoughts. I appreciate every comment you all have left over the past few weeks even though I haven’t been able to respond to most. And in the spirit of being honest, I won’t ever be able to reply to all of you. It’s not possible for me. You all are welcome to leave your comments, but I would be on my phone all day trying to reply, and I got lots of life to live outside this little box. You feel?
Cheers to all of y’all, and if you’re still reading this I truly am grateful to have you here. Happy Friday! xo.