Basic bare bone facts: I leave for Uganda a week tomorrow and today, reality truly set in.
Have you tried to call my house lately and gotten no answer? Sincere apologies on behalf of my family but almost every waking moment from now until I leave, my mother will most likely be on the phone making phone calls to "fill in the blank" in Uganda or otherwise. Today was full of phone conversations with family asking them what they'd like to which reminded me that although I'm the only one travelling, I'll packing for a village - literally. Polo shirts for uncles, underwears and bras for aunts and grandmas - as much of my old clothing that I now deem "out of style" will be travelling with me to Uganda and given to my cousins. And I mean old - clothes from my elementary school days suddenly emerge from the basement, out of boxes my mother labelled "Uganda" probably more than 10 year ago.
Since my return from Kingston, my mother has been drilling with endless facts that if I had a tape recording could be compiled into a bestseller entitled "Guide to survival in Uganda".
**5 facts from my mother in the past 5 minutes**
- wash your bras as your bathing
- keep your luggage locked in your room
- hold your purse in front of you - FIRMLY against your body when walking anywhere - wear earrings only in the office -- anywhere else and they'll stolen literally off your ears!
- be VERY careful!
I try to remember what she's saying, but it's all too much - I just hope that when I get there, it will all come rushing back, but I know I'll probably be all too overwhelmed.
I've travelled to Uganda twice before, but never by myself. This will be a totally different trip as I will be forced to be ….independent! AH! What? And even more - I have a purpose this time round - this is not a va-cay - I have a job to do!
As a part of my program at Queen's university (Global Development Studies), all DEVS majors have the option to study or work abroad. From the very moment I found out about this back in first year, I knew that I would do this and that Uganda was where it would be done. I don't get paid in the monetary form, but I get I'll be working as an intern between two AIDS Organizations: The AIDS Support Organization (TASO) and AIDS-Free World (AFW). The latter being an organization that was co-founded by Stephen Lewis himself of whom I've been told I'll be spending considerable time with. My supervisor at AFW sends me the occasion e-mail and non-chalantly throws in sentences like " …so when you, me and Stephen are in Uganda...and we all meet and discuss our plans for the next part of our project..." excuse me? ?#@!#$!! What?!?!?!?
Well…anyway… if all goes according to plan I'll be conducting a thorough analysis of existing AIDS programs/centres in surrounding Uganda and focusing on the overlap between people infected with HIV/AIDS and disabilities - an area that is virtually untouched all around the world. The ultimate goal would be working towards the implementation of a pilot project to provide more inclusive services, programs and activities for HIV/AIDS people with disabilities as well.
But this is all talk for now - the final details of it all are still very very rough - the specifics of exactly what I'll be doing is still completely up in the air. Given the distance between here and Uganda, communication has been a bit of a struggle and I'm actually worried I'll get there and nothing will be in place for me.
But I'll be with family, so I know that this is in fact the least of my worries. And in the midst of all the anxiety I'm feeling and the ultimate "unknown" that at this moment in time is what I'm most excited for I suppose (family). I may not know the language or even how to get to my place of work (!), but at the end of the day, I'll come home to my grandmother who will offer me tea and see my cousins who I otherwise never get to see. I'm most excited to learn about myself and a culture - something that I hold so. so. dear to my heart!
*too blessed to be stressed