Hello, we’ve just made it to the backpacker’s hostel in Kampala!
The past couple of days have been spent in transition from Shilongo; we’re moving back towards home in many stages. Thursday afternoon we had a goodbye celebration at FDNC. Through a coincidence with one of Sam’s many connections, we met two members of the Houston Professionals chapter of EWB. It was really interesting to talk to them and share stories about our projects; they are working in a village near the Kenyan border, and our projects had a lot of overlap. We are going to continue to talk with them as we move forward in planning/designing our project, since they are working on a rainwater storage tank. As the afternoon wore on FDNC’s staff arrived in waves until the room was filled with lots of smiling faces, chatting, and the smell of food (LOTS of food).
They had made enough matoke to feed a small army, as well as tons of chapatti, rice, beans, soup, cabbage, and fruit. David, one of the paralegal’s at FDNC, was our MC for the night, leading everyone in introductions and grace before our “swallowship,” what FDNC calls eating together. We ate as much as we could, and after finishing our food David took us out the garage and showed us a brick making machine that belongs to FDNC. This could be useful if we end up constructing a brick storage tank. We then headed back inside to hear some very kind words and inspiring speeches from FDNC staff. A member from each department, paralegal, driving, youth empowerment, vocational school, accounting, the executive director, and finally Sam, founder and visionary left us with wonderful thanks and thoughts.
We were very thankful for everyone’s words, and it was especially inspiring and validating to hear from Sam. He began with a quote about development in Africa, and how international aid can play a decivise role but the true answers lie in the leaders of Africa themselves; they need to have the confidence to take their destiny into their own hands. He said we could all learn from Africa, because there’s more to it than war, poverty, and corruption– “there’s something deeper about Africa.” We have to go back and tell people about what we have learned and bring back the good. It is an interdependence we have discovered, a relationship of give and take, learning and teaching. With respect to EWB, he called our approach unique, something they wished they had encountered 5 years ago; “this approach will have long term effects.” He called it a model to be emulated, so that in the end the community can say “look what we have made for ourselves,” and feel inspired to do more. According to Sam, every day is a miracle, and life is full of opportunities to learn from you mistakes; there’s always room for improvement. He told us he’s planning on writing a book, and we’re sure it will be a bestseller.
We have had such an amazing trip, though not without its challenges. Our goodbye at FDNC was the perfect way to reaffirm all the good work and hours of thought we have put into this project. We are excited to bring back and share all that we have expierienced and learned.
This is our final blog, coming to you from Uganda. We will fly through Amsterdam Monday morning and into Boston Monday afternoon. We have been told its the longest two hour flight we’d ever take.
We’ve all caught the Uganda virus, as Janet described in her speech to us, so we’re all hoping to make it back to this country someday.
We hope all is well at home, see you all soon.