Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Kid and the Vulture

I finally have begun to process my time here in Uganda. I think the first step was admitting that I have had this mental block. I finally am beginning to accept that this is my life for the next 4 months and instead of being afraid I am learning to love it. It is a truly beautiful place to be. I have had an internal battle trying to cope with what I am feeling about being here. I feel an immense amount of guilt saying that this is hard. The guilt comes from the fact that this is life for so many. I honestly hate going to the bathroom in a smelly broken down shack that is just a hole in the ground with a lot of gross bugs and a place I have to bring my own toilet paper. After that experience I hate not being able to go to a sink and wash my hands. I hate the constant use of alcohol wipes. I hate that the area I bucket shower in has limited privacy and smells really bad and is not clean. I hate that when I try to help cook I go into a really dark small hut where chickens sleep and have to leave after five minutes because of all the smoke. I hate that I want to cook for my family but have no idea how to cook on a stove that is made of stone and charcoal. I hate that I have this much to bitch about and this is a well off family in Uganda. I hate that I even want to bitch and am not fully appreciative of this experience. I hate that I don't have electricity. I hate that I signed up for this knowin there was a good chance I would have no ammenities and that it would be really cool and didn't even think of how much it would suck. I hate that I feel guilty for saying it effing sucks... but who would say, "hey this is awesome! Look at me I am living an impovershed life!" Sure you would say that the first day, maybe, but day after day? No, no one wants to live like this. If you think you do, you are lying to yourself and should try it. I hate so many things and having ignored all these things because of guilt I made myself unable to process the good things. I finally realized today, I am not supposed to like these things. I used to think the poverty of these places is what kept them so naturally sane and happy. That is really easy to say when I have running water and a toilet. After living here for a mere 3 days I understand what it would really mean to modernize, but not westernize. Everyone should have running water and everyone should have proper sanitation. Don't get me wrong, I actually really enjoy bucket showers, but my family should have the option to choose what kind of shower they want to take. It took me so long to find a new towel the other day. Everything in these shops is second hand. Yes, it is good for the enviroment, but it should be the people's choice of whether or not they want secondhand clothes. Why since these people are poor they get limited options for all of this shit. They live more environmentally friendly than any other culture I know of, but it is not a choice.
Okay, so that was me starting to cope with the culture shock... Now onto my host family.
Gulu as you may or may not know was the hub of the Ugandan war. I knew this, but for some reason I thought my family would not be affected by it. I was severely wrong...
My brother, Samuel, I found out today is not my Mego (Mother) and Wego (father)'s child. Samuel is Wego's sister's child. Samuel's mother died of disease and his father disappeared with the LRA, he is an orphan. I am emailing MPS tonorrow to see if they have a scholorship available becasue all he wants is to study in the US so he can go back to Uganda educated and able to change things for the better. My Mego and her 7 children were abducted by the LRA in 1999. They came in the middle of the night and told her if she did not open up they would throw a grenade in... The same house in which I am writing this was a witness to these autrocities. Anyways, Mego opened the door to the LRA who stole everything (clothes, food, money, Mego, my siblings, etc.) She was tied to her children, and she had Robin, my little brother in her arms as a baby. She was forced to then go house to house with the LRA and witness them do this again and again to her neighbors. Neighbors here are family. For example, I am an auntie to about 30 neighborhood children and a sister to countless adults and a daughter to countless more. So she went to her families houses and watched the LRA take everything from her community. Robin began to cry after countless hours of walking and the LRA soldier stopped and looked at her. (Before all this, back at the house, they asked for my Wego, Mego said he was sick in the hospital. Wego's sister lied to another LRA group about the whereabouts of her husband and she got her lip cut off. Mego was lucky and he just took her instead). Anyways, the LRA soldier told Mego to go back because they do not need mothers and children. Mego had to leave her 7 children to the LRA. 3 days later my sister was able to convince the LRA to let her take her two younger brothers home and keep her instead to work because they were too young. The LRA agreed and let my two younger brothers go along with my other sister. They walked for 2 days and eventually were picked up by a random man who carried them home to Laro Forest. The other siblings were there for 3 months and were all able to escape.
My Wego then came home...
In 1999 he worked for 7 days dusk to dawn planting food for his starving family in Kampala. As most men left their children because it was too much to try to provide, he worked tirelessly. He was constantly hunted down to be killed because he was working class. He told me that he saw a picture of a starving boy and a vulture waiting for the child to die so he could feast. Wego said this image haunted him and made him work to rpovide for his family. My Wego worked for the human rights watch and now works for acholi cultural instititue. He wants to go for his PhD but does not have the money for schooling him and his 9 children. If anyone knows a way for him to get a scholorship or grant, you should let me know. He has his Masters in human rights and wants to write his disertation on how conflict affects the child more than anyone else, and how to stop the child from being affected since they are the future. Point is, my family is great and deserves the help.
I cried with my family as they were telling me these stories. I was especially heartbroken when I heard about Samuel. He is such a good boy, but since these are not his real family he owes them a lot. Because of this, he works nonstop to help Mego around the house while Robin just sits around and plays. Samuel deserves an American education and would benefit both the US and Uganda if he were to get a scholorship.

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