As Elizabeth takes off for the airport, and we continue on for another week and a half of work and time in Uganda; I felt it would be appropriate to show you some of the scenes from a typical day in Uganda. Often times you go to a developing country and instantly are amazed at how things simply get done. And then after a week or so, it just seems common that “this is how they simply get things done”. So I will include some photos and descriptions of the things we have seen in our two weeks, thus far.
To start, everybody at school usually gets porridge for breakfast (if their parents have paid, if not some get nothing depending on the school). They all have a plastic colorful cup that porridge is drank from. The porridge is made in a huge metal pot over a small wood fire, along with usually beans for lunch and other Ugandan staples. They also have a big metal box if they are at a boarding school, usually the key to the box is on a string around their neck, and the box is kept on their bunk bed. When they leave for a school break they take their box, their yellow water bucket for carrying water, their blue water bowl for cleaning, and their mattress and all other worldly possessions on a “Boda Boda” (motorcycle taxi) or sometimes in a van taxi if there is room and they can afford it, their parents car if there is such a thing and other times they simply carry it on their back. Each school has a different uniform color and a label or crest naming what school on it. Because it is a hot commodity, they also usually write or embroider their name on their uniform so they don’t lose it, one child had stapled a staple on her collar to keep track. It is easy to pick out the children who parents can’t afford paying for a uniform or meals, as they are usually in random clothing articles, usually way too big and falling off them, and look hungry. (Orphanages are obviously different, as the children are wearing whatever is there and available, if anything, and eat whatever they can).
Ugandans, like many Africans, carry most of their items on their head. Every time I see them walking gracefully with large items on their heads, I flash back to when I am trying to carry all my bags of groceries up the stairs to my loft and huffing and puffing, as I always feel like I have won an Olympic metal by the time I reach my door. Not the case here, they put my small feat to shame. The best use of the head I have seen so far has been a very heavy Singer sewing machine. Old fashion in our standards of sewing machines, yet the opportunity for a different life in their world.
They also sell many items, if you have a bicycle or can walk you are officially a mobile store. I have seen everything from cabbage, to cell phone chargers, books and even bras. One of the main common uses of a bicycle is to carry water in the yellow containers everyone has. Fetching your water is part of daily life here to drink, bath, cook, etc. and everyone must fetch theirs from a local watering source, sometimes near where they live, sometimes very far away. And the quality of the water is a whole other story. Boda Bodas also carry many items and people – the maximum of the people on a Boda Boda I have seen is five and the women usually sit side saddle, which is amazing in this traffic – the term that comes to mind is “organized chaos”.
The stores that are not mobile vary in style and size but most common are a food store selling bananas or other vegetables, a motorcycle/car wash, or bicycle repair shop, a characol store, clothing store or hair salon and sometimes even a pool hall.
I know when I get back to the states I will never look at water from the tap the same way or buying and carry groceries from the grocery store. And more importantly, I will simply be in gratitude for what I have. Not because theirs is better or worse than what we have, but mostly because I should.