It’s really hard to believe that 5 years ago I was preparing to board a plane that would transport me to another world for 4 months- Uganda. 5 years?! How can it possibly be 5 years?!
I know it sounds like such a cliché but my time in Uganda changed me in more ways than one. In unexpected ways. Some days when I start to feel like I’m drifting away from myself, I look back on my writings from my semester abroad to remind me of what I learned. To remind me that I need to be more conscious of poverty. And hunger. And suffering. I lead a very privileged life and I take that for granted on a daily basis. I have days where all I want to do is engage in some good ol’ fashioned retail therapy. And then I consequently feel horrible about indulging my own superficiality and contributing to the consumerist culture I’m surrounded by. My time in Uganda taught me to be more aware of how I spend my time and money.
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m a very sensitive person. Not depressed. But sensitive. I get really bogged down by the brokenness of our world sometimes. Often, I will intentionally skip out on watching a documentary about sex trafficking or modern-day slavery and the like, because it’s easier. Because I don’t want to feel that pain. I hate that about myself. It’s one thing to be oblivious to the plight of the world’s poor. It’s quite another to be intentionally oblivious because it makes me feel more comfortable.
In Uganda I was faced with those realities on a daily basis. I couldn’t choose to be oblivious because I was immersed in brokenness. I had to develop coping mechanisms or I truly would have never survived. I began running. I’ve always enjoyed running, but more often than not, my laziness wins out over my desire to be healthy. It’s something I would really like to do again. My biggest coping mechanism, however, was writing. While in Uganda, I partook in my first Creative Writing class. I loved it. I remember one of our professors telling us that the thing about being exposed to pain all the time, is sometimes it makes you raw. And sometimes when you’re raw, your past pain resurfaces. This was true for me- and I coped through my writing. I started working through my issues with the abuse my family suffered years before. I worked through the breakup of my first dating relationship. I wrote it out. I also started this blog during that time. My posts were not formatted, the Ugandan internet didn’t allow for pretty pictures. But what I wrote was real. I’m so thankful for that. Obviously, 5 years later, I haven’t yet given up on writing my feelings. I’m so blessed to have this outlet.
Five years later, Uganda is starting to become a hazy memory. I’ve forgotten some of my classmates’ names. The details of my homestays are becoming blurred. But five years later, the memory of Uganda keeps me grounded. It keeps me from becoming too complacent. It forces me to continue to fight for social justice. It keeps me counting my (Bee)autiful Blessings.
Five years later, a piece of my heart remains in Mukono, Uganda.