North Americans can learn from Ugandans how to do the most with the very least.
Cirque du Soleil has nothing on the balancing act of Uganda women with baskets and water cans balancing on their heads for kilometers at a time. This perhaps explains why Ugandan women carry themselves more gracefully and carefully than North American women.
At Christmas, in exchange for a new dress, women give grasshoppers to their husbands.
Uganda farmers, who are largely women, are the most hard-working people I have met—maize, rice, cassava, eucalyptus, tomatoes, cabbage, mangos, papayas, watermelon, pineapples, cotton, fish farming, chicken, peanuts (aka “g nuts”), beans, sorghum (for local breweries) are tended to for both cash crops and/or to feed their families. This fertile country sells food to the UN World Food Program for south Sudan and other countries in Africa.
With little other technology, the cell phone has become a key tool in improving livelihoods and the well-being of Ugandan families.
When an elder arrives late for a meeting and there are no empty chairs, young people instantly give up their seats and scurry to find more chairs.
Most kids under 5 are afraid of white people because, for most, their only experience with white people has been a doctor or nurse with an immunization needle.
Nothing is wasted…including empty water bottles left by visitors.
In communities of mixed religions, prayer is respectfully replaced with one minute of silent reflection.
The great majority of Ugandans live in poverty, the great majority of Canadians live at mid-income. Immersion in such an environment for a Canadian is humbling, life-changing and tremendously valuable.
Ugandan teachers subsidize their meager salaries by farming on the side.
Farmers worldwide, not only want to talk to each other, but must talk to each other.
I have yet to meet a Ugandan whose life hasn’t been affected, in some way, by HIV/AIDS and civil war.
Our intrepid driver Rashid told us that:
a) Speed bumps are called “sleeping policemen”, and,
b) Riding in the back of a van is called The African Massage. At times, it was more like a chiropractic treatment.
Children love to wave at vehicles that pass through their village and a wave back will get you the biggest, unforgettable smile.
Uninhibited singing, delivered straight from the heart, is likely to greet you when you meet a group of Ugandan co-operators. Coming from a postured, perhaps overly-guarded, business culture, this too is humbling.
Ugandans have a cool handshake.
It surprised me that after 10 days of eating in outdoor restaurants at both day break and sunset, I recall being bitten only twice by mosquitoes. Being a prairie girl, that small number is unthinkable in our summer months!
Lastly, A Ugandan woman’s “joyful place” is found when she is able to put her children through school—nothing more, nothing less. I am proud that Canadians have entrusted the Canadian Co-operative Association to equip women with the tools needed to realize this dream. I am so willing to share the stories of the women and men of Uganda that I met—call me sometime…
In keeping with blog guidelines, I must stop here. However, I have learned so much more from/about Uganda and its people.