It’s no surprise that the children in Uganda are much different than the children back in the US. What I didn’t know was how different their responsibilities were. A simple observation from just driving past slums, you can already see a handful of kids carrying multiple jerry cans (which can hold up to 5 gallons of water), helping their mothers with laundry, and young girls carrying babies.
Actually entering the slums captivated me even more. I didn’t realize how many responsibilities the children had. Back in the US, the most responsibility a child would have is to just clean up after themselves or finish their vegetables. Having a seven-year-old brother of my own made it easier for me to see the drastic differences in their childhoods. While these children were out all day helping their families whether it be doing laundry or cooking, my little brother would just be sitting on an iPad. It’s even crazier to see how little parental supervision the children have. In one instance, I specifically remember seeing a young boy around 10-12 years old cooking food while his little sister around 5 years old sat on the grass. It felt so unusual for me because there wasn’t a parent in site to overlook the young boy cooking, but it was even more shocking to know that a kid that young knows how to cook. It made me feel extremely inadequate because I didn’t even learn how to cook until my sophomore year in college. Another thing I had noticed was how these young girls were carrying around babies. During a trip to the slums, I realized that babies just a few years old were clinging to these young girls as if they were their own mothers- which really made me think about how long these girls must have taken care of the babies.
The differences in the childhoods here and the ones I’m used to seeing or experiencing myself were compelling to witness. It’s rare to see a child around 8-10 years old with this amount of responsibility in the US, it’s rare to even see a high schooler know how to do their own laundry. It really makes you appreciate everything back home- especially having a childhood where all you had to worry about was if you wanted to either go to the pool or the park.