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Kyla Love

April 7, 2021

This is it. My last week in Uganda - the severity of my farmer's tan is tangible proof that, yes, it really has been three months. I know three months sounds like plenty of time to think things over, make comparisons, learn lessons, and get a grasp on what exactly I've learned from this experience, but... I think I must be a slow learner. It's going to take me some time and distance to understand the impact this trip has had on me. But for starters...

(article continues below)Uganda


Better. Simple. Life. This slogan (of an insurance company) lines Uganda's roads. Buildings are, through some marketing scheme, painted in the colours of the country's competing cellphone providers - pink and orange and yellow... Colour Your World, urges Sandolin, a paint company whose marketing presence rivals that of the cell companies. It may be an ad line, but the words Better. Simple. Life. could also be used to describe the Uganda I imagined before coming here. You know that constant noise pollution we have modern technology to thank for? I was looking forward to getting away from that, to living a better, simpler life for a few months. But while in some ways, things are simpler - no stoves or microwaves or wifi in Busolwe, I have to ask: is this better?

It's a bit of a toss up. On one hand, most of the people in Busolwe are 'locavores', eating only locally produced, wholesome food (i.e. not processed, therefore better for you, producing less waste, and consuming less energy in transport). On the other hand, this means an extremely limited diet, none of the things I normally eat (salads, fish, soymilk, etc.), and a diet low in nutrition for many.

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While I don't bemoan the loss of a microwave, I do bemoan the loss of the trees cut down all over Uganda to provide the charcoal or firewood people use to cook and reheat their food (contributing to massive deforestation and drought). I love lying outside at night and seeing a river of stars overhead - look up in a city and you would miss most of them. But I'm pretty sure the lack of electricity (it's been out for three weeks) has something to do with the roaches in our fridge. So, simplicity? Life and ways of living can seem simple or complex depending on how you look at them and what you compare them to. As for better, well... maybe there's no better or worse, just different.

I'm a sucker for quotes, and I have this one by Thomas Merton taped up beside my bed:
"Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no results at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of the personal relationship that saves everything."
What I like about this is that Merton stresses the importance of relationships, and people. I always say that it's the people who make the place, and Busolwe has been no different. One person I've learned a lot from is Christopher, one of the students who won our library's writing contest. Using Microsoft Word for the first time at the library, he wrote

"I LOVE TO HAVE A GOOD FAMILY; A GOOD EDUCATION; AND EVEN A GOOD LIFE TIME.
A GOOD FRIEND TELLS YOU WANT YOU NEED TO KNOW.; CHRIS AND KALA."

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Kyla Love, with Chris


While the challenges we face in our lives may be worlds apart, I learned that Chris and I want pretty much the exact same things: family, learning, friends... a good life time. Another thing I learned: there are always challenges to be overcome in life - they may be different depending on where you are in the world, but that doesn't render anyone's challenges irrelevant or nonexistent. I've attached Chris's winning poem below:

A POEM

Education                      Education                      Education


Where did you come from?
Oh! God, you created others white and others black.
Is this the education I hear?

Education, that you're wise, whosoever comes
to you becomes wise. WHY?.....?
Education I hear that whoever wants you
pays money!! That you education puts other
people to the first class which benefits a lot
others in the second class which benefits some how
less and others in the third class which totally
inherits nothing. What can do Oh! Education
tell me... ... ...

Education, should I befriend you so that
I also enjoy the class people in this world today.
And if so where can I find that man
called money to touch you education?

Adopted from 3rd class level
And written by Mukisa Christopher,
Busolwe Bright-Light College student

Chris explained to me that '3rd class level' refers to socioeconomic class and that he is poor. He is also one of the brightest students I have met in Busolwe (the school's uniform t-shirts, after all, declare: I am a Brightian), and one of two students to receive our Library Scholarship, whereby his school fees are sponsored in exchange for his spending time helping out at the library each week. If anyone is interested in further sponsoring Chris's fees (for example, contributing to his uniform fees or funding his purchase of textbooks which would allow him to study Literature), feel free to contact me.

X
Kyla
www.thevulgareye.blogspot.com

Kyla Love is an Liz Bell model, currently volunteering in Africa.

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Dana Drori (BlackBook blog)

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Laura Kell (Glamazoned)

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