During our recent visit to Uganda, I traveled ahead of the team by a few days. I had two days to do some work with our staff and to visit a remote village that has no partnership. I love these visits; new faces, new friends, and a chance to see a place I've never been.
Making the journey to this village was a bit of an adventure. It is quite a distance from the main road. A bus bumping along these crater-filled roads with a white woman on it was quite a departure from the normal traffic of children walking to get water and the occasional bicycle. We must have been a peculiar site!
As we passed mud hut after mud hut, I noticed a pattern of response from the dust-covered children we passed. When they heard the bus coming, they would run to the edge of the road with a stoic, confused expression. But, as soon as they caught my eye and I smiled and waved, their faces lit up! It must have happened over a hundred times! Confusion, recognition, connection - time after time.
This went on for over an hour and made me consider the power of a smile. It was a mood-changer, for sure. But it also is a connection-maker. When your eyes lock and you share a smile, you are connected, if only for a moment. But that moment lasts. You move on, whether it's by walking past or bumping along in a bus, but you've shared something for that brief time. And the little bit of happiness you shared can change a day.
As I looked out the back of the bus, I could see kids stay by the side of the road until we had faded into the distance. Then they most likely returned to what they were doing before the interruption - playing with siblings, helping their mother weed a garden, washing plastic dishes from a recent meal - but I have to believe they felt a tiny bit different for awhile. I know I did!
So make it a mission to share your smile today. You never know who needs it. And it just might change YOUR day as well!
The view from the bus window.
Traffic on the road to Nawampiti.
A boy lucky enough to own a bike.
One of the smiles I received!
Hearts & Hope is a nonprofit organization focused on unlocking the potential of people in Uganda through relationships with people in the US.