Our time here has consisted of several highs and lows. When we arrived to the village, the entire community welcomed us with traditional dances and what we would consider field day games. We attempted to dance with the locals–and looked ridiculous doing so. We also played games with the children from the village.
Since then, we have visited with the families and we have learned about their daily activities and have practiced them by their sides–gardening, peeling vegetables, and washing laundry by hand. Additionally, we have presented course work adapted from the Kansas Leadership Center to provide strategic leadership training to members of the community.
The purpose of the training is to help mobilize the community to make progress on adaptive challenges that are present within their communities and homes. Strikingly, many of the challenges are similar to those that we face in the US. For example, issues they face include the quality of education, safe transportation, and harmony within families.
As our time in Rwenzori has come and now passed… what remains in my heart is the memory of the beautiful beside the ugly, and the good sitting right beside the bad. To explain, we awoke every morning to see beautiful mountains, lush vegetation, and running streams. We were introduced to about one hundred of children–who held our hands and touched our white skin. We shared smiles and traded family photos. But, in the same breath, we encountered many challenges. We learned that here, being born a man gives you a different value in the world than being born a female. We’ve learned that in many cases, education is valued, but unattainable due to fees that are unable to be paid, and basic healthcare is only for the privileged.
At home, I believe our hearts have become hardened in the midst of these challenges. My prayer is that as these words are read, we can be be empathetic. We can let the weight of these challenges press upon our hearts and allow ourselves to feel uncomfortable because connecting to people in this way–emotionally and spiritually–who are separated from us by land and sea is still doing something–even when it feels like there is nothing that can be done.