The Rolex Seekers
Angela, Rayden, and Brooke are enjoying the Ugandan version of a breakfast burrito.
It is noon on our final day in Mbarara, it’s been pouring rain outside since early this morning, and Rayden, Brooke, and Angela have ventured into the rain in search of an authentic street-made Rolex. I think Ugandan food has grown onto us since we’ve arrived in the country… Rolex is definitely a favourite of ours.
Today, we head out to our community health placements, and boy, what a ride has it been to get to this point. I should start with pointing out a major theme of this trip: African time. Granted, this is a generalization, but this term describes the common attitude towards schedules, meeting times, and life in general in Uganda. While Westerners (especially North Americans) have a tight grip on their time and look at it as minutes and hours that make up their days, Ugandans are much more relaxed and consider their weeks and months to plan their years. A late meeting, a delayed boat, or an event that takes up five hours instead of two is nothing to worry about. It is a fact of life in Uganda, one that has proven difficult to get used to for us goal-obsessed Canadians. However, we are
Ukulele by the lake
Making the best of African time.
learning that when in Africa, do as the Africans do. Don’t hold people to Canadians standards of punctuality and expect for customs to be modified just for you. Plans are fluid and subject to change until they are accomplished, and that is okay. While being different from what we are used to, this way of life is just as valid as our own.
Earlier, I mentioned a delayed boat- this was based on a personal experience. On the first week of our trip, the 2pm barge ended up leaving Entebbe for the Ssesse islands at 5:30pm. Why was it so late? The boat ran out of fuel, and the truck transporting the extra fuel broke down on the road. Faced with a delay that kept getting extended, we had the choice to be poor sports about it or to go with the flow. We figured that there was no reason to get into a fuss about our situation since there was nothing we could do about it. We ended up having a lovely afternoon on the shores of Lake Victoria. Haley napped in the grass, Casey read a novel, and I strummed my ukulele.
To tie this post
What a beautiful wedding!
(From left to right): Casey, Haley, and I.
back to the original point, the community placement, which we were supposed to start almost immediately after arriving in Uganda, was also delayed. Unfortunately, our orientation to start our community projects was postponed for three consecutive weeks because the Mbarara University professors were on strike. This delayed the start of our time in the villages until today when we’ll finally travel to Rugazi, a rural village situated on the edge of Queen Elizabeth National Park. In all honesty, it was disappointing to travel all the way to Uganda only to be told to wait two weeks to start our work. Did it feel like I was wasting my time? Yes, because we are only in country for 90 days and I am a goal-oriented person who loves to jump right into projects. But again, I must remind myself that the past two weeks have been instrumental in getting us acclimatized to our new environment, and the more adapted we are, the more effective we will be in our healthcare settings.
And anyways, had our trip not been delayed, we wouldn’t have had the chance to attend Lydia’s wedding last Saturday, which by the way, was a beautiful and extravagant
The Nutrition Gals
(From left to right): Me, Angela, and Victoria at the wedding
event. It was wonderful to see how many people came together to celebrate the newlyweds and to feel the pervasive sense of tightly-knit community. Congratulations Lydia and Samuel!
While we can’t start our community project until we are finished our orientation (which will happen in Mbarara next week), we are so fortunate to work and learn in the health clinic and tour Rugazi and the surroundings to meet with community elders. I am so excited to get started! Until next time!
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