My Promise: I Left My Heart in Uganda

A school in the village enjoyed a game of insane tag.
The beautiful Children of Uganda

Heart’s blood flowing fastly at intense excitement. Traveling across oceans the hours pass slowly. Vastly seeking faith taught by those close to death. Finally landing on rich soil of the unfortunate. Quickly greeted with the incessant unpleasant scent. Struggling for breath. Thick air filled with remnants of burning trash heaps. Roosters skip and chickens scurry down mounds of clay.

Screeches of young children yelling, laughing at us, the Mzungus. Peering through broken glass windows. The withered reeds create hiding as they share their disquieted stares. Tiptoes. Taking caution expressionless. Sharing the path with an ox. Their eyes pierce with fierce intention. Deep wrenching souls reach through dark brown lenses. Smiles, once hidden, form on each weathered face as they run from floating bubbles. Hundreds of African children’s giggles overtake hesitation.

Silence brings attention to the perilous area. Rebels patrol bringing fear on their heels. The night brings evil that suffocates its prey. They pray. Images and shadows lurk beneath the webs spun by creatures only found in this place. The light penetrates. They dance until morning with blinding faith.

Cow hides tied up in trees, high. Food minimal but substantial to the thinning frames. Rain falls softly as the women try to catch each prayer from the sky. Gathering buckets to keep fresh drops of life in. The water cold and crisp on the chapped shaking lips. Truth spills from mouths healed. Under the scorching sun they praise. Blistered hands raise.

**I will NEVER forget**

The mission trip to Uganda Africa took place a few years ago. For me, it all started with an organization called, “Invisible Children”. I watched the first movie they created, and all of sudden thought I could change the world. My heart kept begging me to travel to Africa after that. I felt that any efforts needed to help the people of Uganda, needed to be done THERE.

When I arrived, I wasn’t ready at all for what greeted us. It was breathtaking. I mean that it was so smokey and stinky I couldn’t breathe. Although, it was beautiful too! There was a lot to see in Kampala, but getting there was not fun. The roads were scary. I mean like, really scary. You thought driving in Vegas or LA was bad? I had the window down in our little bus we were in, and the motorcyclists could have taken out my contact lens – they were so close! At every intersection, or roundabout rather, were two or more gentlemen holding rifles. I slouched in my seat every time we passed by. White woman in Africa looking suspicious….that was me, but carsick while doing so.

I wasn’t expecting to see a botanical garden, or really huge hairy insects (the spiders in our room were merely left there until a man could come and kill it with a shoe, a hammer, or bomb) I didn’t know that I would put my feet in Lake Victoria, or see the Nile river. I didn’t know that an ‘egg roll’ in Uganda was really an egg….rolled with stuff around it. I drank instant coffee in Kampala, and ate a rooster (unknowingly). I made sure to use the restroom right before bed. I say that because the outhouse was outside the house, naturally. Every morning I’d stroll to the pot, there would be men sitting near it cleaning their bloody machetes. Freaked. Me. Out. I got used to it though after the first week of not making eye contact. I had the pleasure of learning how to throw homemade bricks to other builders, and impressed myself with horrible aim. I had bruises and cuts too from bricks being thrown at me – Only because I was afraid to catch them.

Another odd thing was that the people were happy. They were singing, laughing, and their hearts were alive. I expected that in Kampala, but not so much in the village of Toggo. These people live in mud huts, and eat whatever animal is walking down the path that morning. It broke my heart to see the bulging bellies and sick children. They wore no shoes, and had worms and bugs eating at their flesh. Seeing their blank stare just made me wonder where did they find hope? If you were to ask them that question their response would be, “God is good all the time”.

It is so difficult to not be able to help everyone there. My heart yearns to go back to Uganda. I want to sing, dance, and laugh with them. I want to play games and giggle at the language barrier. Even though I’m not there, I promised to continue to spread their joy here in America. I promised them I wouldn’t forget them. I promised to tell everyone about what I saw, and what they need. The school we started years ago is functioning well! If you feel led, please visit Yaaka Afrika to keep up on the work being done!

Oh yes, and Mzungu means “white skin”. So, from your fellow Mzungu, goodnight all!


One thought on “My Promise: I Left My Heart in Uganda

  1. The heartbreak is intense. You feel you have cheated somehow just by being a Mzungu. I remember that so so vividly ‘Mzungu! Mzungu!!’ as they point at these aliens that don’t understand. nearly five years since I have been gone – I thought he heartache of not being able to help everyone that crossed my path would ware off. It doesn’t. I get frustrated with us folk who have so very much and complain – yet these people, (who to us) seem to have so little – are happy. I saw a caption once with four little guys on a hillside overlooking the beautiful land out ahead of them saying ‘ I heard that in America they make the children wear shoes all day and they lock them in a room where they are not allowed to speak to each other. Their meat that is made of plants and they only see the animals in a picture.’ -‘We should send them some money’ replied the others.
    The towns and cities is the scariest of places – it is where the most poverty is found – and as these encroach on their natural lifestyle and they have to move to the cities or work in them and have ‘modern society’ taking over and stealing there means of survival – they are forced to relinquish their own ideologies of life – and adapt (trying to find the balance between what they want and what they HAVE to do hence having their culture destroyed) or die.
    Beautiful post.



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