I initially joined this study abroad because my ancestry DNA results revealed that a large percentage of my DNA came from the Ugandan and Rwandan regions. Little did I know; I would learn that Uganda is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The green hills, lakes, wildlife and abundant growth of fruits and vegetables would make anyone want to stay long-term. This, paired with the smiling faces, welcoming spirits, kindness, and the genuine love of the Ugandan people made me feel at home from the moment I stepped off the plane.
The sad reality here in Uganda, is that while there are smiling faces and beautiful scenery, there’s a shortage of essentials. The average Ugandan makes less than a dollar a day. There are areas all around Uganda that are poverty stricken, underdeveloped, overcrowded and filthy. These areas are normally filled with underprivileged citizens of Uganda. They live there without clean running water, food, medicine, clothing, and hygiene products. In fact, most of their water is obtained from communal water taps, which are often unreliable. Some families struggle to even afford this water.
My visits to Jinja and Kampala are where I walked the dirt roads into the slums, saw mothers with their hungry children and felt the most sorrow.
As a mother, seeing the children without the things that my children and I often take for granted was very hard to watch. I felt like I could and should help, so I gave the snacks that I had from the plane. Then I started to box my meals from lunch or dinner and gave them to kids that I saw on the streets. It all sounded good in theory, but the hard reality was that there was never enough to give to everyone who was in need.
Although I can’t end the poverty, I’ve decided that I can contribute to the Ugandan people by donating school supplies and clothing that will help the children get the education needed to someday overcome these conditions.
What better way to learn more about myself and experience my roots? Now, instead of coming as a tourist, I will be returning with my family to share my home away from home with them. I’ll also be able to share the joy of giving back in honor of my DNA and to support the people that share the little they have so freely, smile endlessly, and more than anything, love unconditionally.