(Important note: All of the women on this trip are doing so at their own expense. No donations or any other Great Contribution funds of any kind have been used for anyone on this trip nor for any portion of this trip.)
We have now spent two days on safari, between visits to micro loans hubs, and tomorrow we head to Buyobo, the headquarters of our program in Uganda. Viewing the amazing animals in Murchison Falls Park (you can’t come all this way and not see the animals) is a wonderful experience and a rugged one. The dirt roads are extremely rough with very large pot holes a frequent occurrence so you experience a very jolting ride.
Yesterday, we learned how road side emergencies are handled. William, our driver discovered that a nut had fallen off our vehicle and the gear shift was disabled. Another driver stopped to help and he and William searched for a nut that could be taken off another, non-critical, part of the vehicle and used for the gear shift. When that didn’t work, William cut a thin, long strip of rubber off one of the floor mats and wound it around the needy bolt to create a make shift nut! And it worked!
As we have traveled along, one of our group, Kim Davis, has developed an interest in the Luganda language that is spoken in Uganda. I’ve watched with great respect as she has quizzed William about how to say a variety of things. She has even purchased a book of Lugandan words and phrases and each day she surprises us as she tries out a phrase or word we haven’t heard before. The Ugandan people are pleased with her efforts and her facility with language is really impressive, especially since this is not a language that is familiar in any way to us!
Throughout our journey we continue to experience the beauty of the Ugandan people. They are gracious, courteous and thoughtful. Whether they are expressing their gratitude for a micro loan or simply welcoming us to their hotel or shop, there is a genuine kindness that is so touching.
I have a great sense of connection with these African brothers and sisters. A few years ago, Cheryl Farrell, a TGC volunteer, wrote a beautiful song , called “They Are Us Over There” based on the idea that only by accident of birth were we born in the U.S. in relative wealth and the Ugandans were born here in most cases in extreme poverty and we repeatedly see this idea brought to life. The way in which these lovely people greet us and interact with us, expresses this concept so clearly.
This safari has been an important break for our group. Seeing as much poverty as we have already seen is draining. We’ve had a couple of days to re-charge our batteries, reflect on what we’ve seen and get ready for the remaining visit to a micro loan graduation, to interview more borrowers, see more businesses and immerse ourselves again in the world of the desperately poor of Uganda.