Backstory: About Fifteen years ago, my elementary school principal (and my Grandmother’s friend) left Kentucky for the bush. The bush in Uganda. She’s been here ever since.
As soon as I mentioned our arrival to Uganda to my Momma, she was eager for me to stop in on the Sisters living in Buseesa, Uganda to say hello. She also wanted me to stop in on an orphanage she volunteered at several years ago and check out the equator. All of this would be easier (and more expensive and possibly more dangerous) had we our own car. However, we have been relying on public transportation, getting from Kampala to Buseesa, where the Sisters have set up and currently run two boarding schools was a challenge in itself.
I’ll spare you the waiting game we played in the matatu (shared taxi-bus) parking lot for three hours for ours to fill up. I’ll also spare you the near death experiences we had sitting in the front seat of our matatu for the four hours it took to get from Kampala to Buseesa. Instead, this post’s video and pictures are from the Sunday we spent getting tours of the schools and hanging out with the students on their day off. Some students took turns taking pictures with my camera: (Not bad, right?)
Now I know why it’s advised NOT to travel in Uganda after dark. There are no lights. The roads are horrendous. There are no traffic rules in Uganda. It’s worse than India. People are walking on the side of the road with carts of vegetables, grass balanced on their heads, herds of goats… How something or someone didn’t die in the hour we were on the road after dark is absolutely beyond me.
We didn’t arrive to the schools until well after dark. Two younger Ugandan Sisters met us at the dirt road junction we were told was Buseesa and walked us back the mile (mile and a half?) road to meet the other Sisters who were still awake. It’s the strangest and one of the most lovely feeling walking into a convent in the middle of the bush in Uganda to receive hugs from one of the math teachers from my high-school (Sr. Anita Marie) and then my old elementary school principal (Sr. Janet). Seeing familiar faces during our travels is always a bit special, but seeing Sr. Janet and having memories of my grandmother flood over me felt even more so.
“Do you remember your dear Grandmother?” Sr. Janet asked me over the late dinner that they had prepared for us.
“Of course, I was going to ask you if you could tell me any stories I might not know about!” I replied.
“She used to come to mass in the convent chapel every morning! Five in the morning, she would be there!” she recalled.
“I know! She made me go to one of those masses with her one morning! I was bad and my Mom sent me to stay with her and I had to get up and go to church with her that early!” FYI: That was the. worst. If my daughter or son is ever bad… so help me, their Grandmother (Yo, Momma, that’s you) better be going to mass on a daily basis just so they can learn their lesson.
I had no idea their schools were so big. I brought three bags of candy thinking it would be enough for maybe 100 students. Wrong. Including the nursery students (who don’t board) there are nearly 600 students. 500 between the primary and secondary schools. Adorable younger children and polite girls ran around enjoying their weekend. Once our cameras were out, the younger ones got super excited and we would take turns taking pictures until Andrew or myself thought of a good excuse to put the cameras away for a little while. One of the Sisters pulled us aside and told us to be extra careful with our belongings and not to give any money to the students if they asked us for it. This surprised me, and I’m happy to report that by the end of our visit, absolutely NONE of the students asked for money or said anything that made for an awkward moment.
Sister Christina mentioned that it’s difficult to get books into the school because donors think the school already has a library, and it’s not as rewarding simply donating books, even though it’s just as needed and appreciated.
Only girls are admitted to the secondary school. I’ve noticed the short hair on ALL students since we’ve arrived in Uganda. Girl or boy, if you’re a student- you hair is kept super short. I love it. The girls are stunning without overly coiffed hair taking away from their natural beauty. We talked about it and I told them how much I liked it. They disagreed and all admitted to not being able to wait to get their hair plaited. They did NOT approve when I told them how much I want to shave part of my head a la Anya from Project Runway (Season 9).