We have left Kiryandongo. Osborn is visiting his family in Kenya, and I meanwhile am staying in Entebbe until my flight. But, as I rest and mull and organize my notes and photos, I realize there are a few more points of interest I’d like to share.
I’ll start with a correction. A few posts ago I gave the meaning of the word “mzungu” – the case being that when people pointed me out, calling “Mzungu!” Osborn explained to me that it meant “you.” It wasn’t until more than a week later that a misunderstanding became evident: he hadn’t been saying “you” literally, but rather “you” representatively, as I, and every other lighter-skinned non-African person, can be described by “mzungu.” So to clarify, mzungu is a slang word used across many languages here to refer to foreigners, especially white ones. And I suppose the plural form is wazungu, in the nature of, for example, Swahili.
Next I’d like to incorporate some observations – such as what happens when the temperature drops below 75 degrees Fahrenheit (everyone suddenly manifests these heavy winter coats and old down jackets), or when you eat posho (ugali) and beans with a fork instead of your hands (people look at you and chuckle to themselves “ah, mzungu”), or how sometimes really little children would cry and hide when they met me (because they’d never seen anyone like me up close before, and it was scary; but always they’d eventually overcome their fear and be climbing all over me within half an hour).
And finally I’d like to share a little of what I’ve done since being in Entebbe. I have twice visited an orphanage called the Early Learning School (they also offer nursery and primary schooling to kids in the neighborhood). And, although – compared to my American elementary education – the school was quite impoverished, I was absolutely astounded at the variety of resources available to them, compared with the St. Bakhita children. They have textbooks, and plumbing. Their class sizes range from 5-25 students. And the kids were remarkably advanced. Despite the tough histories of many of the orphans, I was impressed and gladdened by what I found in their school. I want the children at St. Bakhita to have similar opportunities. There are so many bright pupils there, and they really deserve every benefit they have a chance at getting.
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Soon I will be flying to Moshi, Tanzania. But in no way will I lose the gratitude I have learned here in Uganda for my own childhood: I had multiple pairs of shoes, and drawing pencils, and running water, and very few worries; I had so much variety in my diet, and I had Legos, and I had a library card. Now that I am grown and college-graduated, and face-to-face with the inequalities that span our planet, the least I can do is make my appreciation known. Mum and Pop, Gramps, and Gran: things may be rough at times, but damn if you haven’t given me every chance I could hope for. I love you to pieces.
Signing out, with peace and thanks,