More Than Numbers: Lugazi, Uganda
This is Part 1 of a series titled “More Than Numbers.” In this, we will share personal stories and photos from people who have worked in the humanitarian field. We are doing this in an effort to highlight humanitarian action and to humanize those receiving aid. Too often we get bogged down with the statistics, money, and numbers involved in the humanitarian sector and forget the “human” part of being a humanitarian. If you would like to contribute your own photos or story, feel free to reach out on social media or email email@example.com
Photos and story contributed by April Davis:
Africa changes you. After volunteering with refugees in my hometown of San Diego, I decided I wanted to see firsthand what life was like in places that I had only read about.
I am a bit naive and trusting, and I ended up travelling alone to a town called Lugazi in Uganda. I decided to stay there and live like the locals did, so no hotel for me. Not having running water or a bathroom was expected, but navigating the trip to the toilet in the dark was not fun! As I left the door open for a bit of light, a few times I was caught by kids who – like all kids everywhere – ran laughing at the crazy lady going potty.
The children took my mind off the harder parts of living in a village like Lugazi. Each night, as I would lie in bed and start to process some of what I had seen that day, I would weep in private. One reason was because I missed my own child, and the other was just seeing some of the hardships like small children walking far and in dangerous conditions just to fetch water was just heart wrenching. At night, I could also hear the kids in next room singing; this got me through missing my own child and processing the things I had seen in this village.
I taught a group of HIV positive widows how to make jewelry, and was able to help four kids who were in very poor health to get to the hospital. The kids were all better by the time I went home. The women were smart and so much fun to be with, and even though we could only communicate through a translator, we understood each other as women and mothers. Some things transcend language barriers. I had sent other aid groups to that village, and that’s how the villagers made the bulk of their sales. After that, they set up their own brick oven business. Mary (my roomate) had a little thatched shack where she sold used clothes, and I saw people with so much ability and only in need of a small start.
I may not have the ability or money to save the world, but that wasn’t my goal. I got so much out of the trip, and they aren’t things or memories you can buy. Just being there was huge. The fact that I could leave my own family and travel so far to learn about them was everything. Everyone wants to matter, to feel they count. I still consider each of them as angels on earth who showed me what pure strength and grace look like. One day I will return.
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