Most of us have secret questions that we must answer to gain access to our bank account or a credit card. One of the questions that I have answered in the past is “where would you most like to go on a vacation”. Wow. I could say Costa Rica or Bora Bora, or some other exotic location and I probably have. But one day recently I was thinking of this question and “Uganda” popped into my mind. Some people might look at me funny and say Uganda? As a matter of fact when I told people that I was going to Uganda this summer they did the exact same thing and added “why”?
Well, here is why. One of the first villages we went to was Kainagoga. Based on where I was sitting on the bus I was the very first person to hit the ground. All at once I was surrounded by a group of maybe 50 children shouting “welcome”! They pushed against me so hard that I literally lost my balance and if it weren’t for so many of them I would have certainly fallen. I have never before in my entire life experienced such a feeling. I was overwhelmed with their love and joy at seeing me. My heart and soul leapt and it felt like my brain exploded. This is the only way I can describe it. I thought then and now “who am I that I would receive such undeserved and unearned love”? This is a feeling that everyone should experience. There is no way to describe it. The only way to feel it is to experience it in person.
I could go on to talk about all the wonderful days that were spent in the villages. I could talk about the precious and beautiful children that hugged me and that I held. I could talk about the camaraderie I felt with the women and the special bond that was developed with them. I could do this because it was all there, but then again I can’t. Sometimes you read a book and then Hollywood turns it into a movie and those of us who read the book say, “the movie just didn’t do justice to the book”. Well it is kind of like that. The words cannot do justice to the experience. You just must experience it on your own.
It has taken me numerous attempts and a month to write my story. Sometimes I wake up in the night to a beautiful “Ugandan” memory and smile. I love the country of Uganda and I love the people who work there for Hearts and Hope. But most of all I love the people of the villages. Every single one of them. The thoughts of them always bring a smile to my face. I love to talk about them. I miss them. I will go back to Uganda again and again. It is in my blood.
Hearts & Hope is a nonprofit organization focused on unlocking the potential of people in Uganda through relationships with people in the US.