Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Familiar Faces and Flabbergasting Firsts

The morning of the 10th started off a bit rocky. For one, I was pretty tired, because I haven’t been sleeping, but also because it happened to be the would-be 59th birthday of The Mujjie – or my Mom. I also happened to stub my toe on the side table, so that didn’t help matters much either. In other words, the first hour of that day involved waking up to my alarm and blurting out a word that rhymes with shirt, and dropping a few f-bombs post-toe stub, followed by a solid weep, all before picking myself up and heading off for the day.

Aside from the first hour or so, what was pending for the day was certain to make up for it. For you see, I had set up a few community visits in Gweri. One of those communities, Damasiko, happened to be a group I’d worked with previously during my time with the Food Rights Alliance (FRA). In fact, they happened to be my favourite group and I hadn’t seen them since my last field visit with FRA last March.

When planning this visit, however, I requested that this group not be told who the visitor was. This made it even more exciting, when we pulled up outside the church where we were meeting, and I popped my head out! It was so incredible to be reunited with this inspiring group of people, and to see so many familiar faces! Unfortunately, we were very late arriving, so we didn’t have as much time together as I’d hoped. But, our discussions were really productive and I’m excited to see them all again soon!

My Damasiko crew!
The second visit was to the neighbouring parish, and it was the first time I’d visited this area. Interestingly, even though it’s just a few minutes’ drive away from Damasiko, I had the most surreal experience, quite possibly of all my African experiences, aside from the many reunions with old friends and familiar places since returning to Uganda last September. If you can imagine during the discussions with this second group, someone casually mentioned that for some in attendance, I was the first white person they’d ever seen! At the end of the meeting, when we were making our closing remarks, I asked out of the 35 or so in attendance, who had never seen a white person before. And, much to my surprise, nearly all of them – including one enthusiastic little girl – raised their hands! I couldn’t believe it. I also apologized profusely for not meeting their expectations!!
The group in Omugenya
Anyway, it was a productive day, and an emotional one, but it was good none the less. On the drive back to Jinja, I witnessed a beautiful sunset, which made the remainder of the drive extra peaceful. 

Sunset in Iganga, Eastern Uganda

And boy, did I ever sleep that night!

-the Orange Canadian

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