I have been in Kampala for the past week. Showing up to Kampala I was a little shell-shocked. There were 40 million cars and 100 million people on the street. It was terrifying. We pulled into the same hotel we stayed at our first night and we all looked at eachother and said "shit". The first day we were in this hotel we thought it was awful. It wasn't clean, the shower pressure sucked, and the food was not good. Pulling into the same hotel a month and a half later, we were in shock of how nice it was. It is not only clean, but we have toilets, mirrors, hot showers (the most satisfying thing of all), and the food (though repetitive) is delicious. Apparently, Gulu has lowered my standards of living by quite a bit.
We went to the Garden City Mall the first day after lectures. We all walked in with faces that probably had the security gaurds saying what the eff is wrong with these poeple. The mall is four stories big and had thai food and indian food and ice cream and a supermarket and spas and a bowling alley and an escalator and a coffee shop that was identical to starbucks. We (or just me, but I will say we so I don't sound like the only idiot) acted like kids who were given 3,000 pixie sticks and then some sugar on the side. I calmed down after I ran around the whole place looking at all the stores.
I can analyze this and think about developed nations and developing nations and why does a place like that exist when there are places like Gulu or Kitgum or any of Northern Uganda. I can sit and think how awful it was that I spent 90,000 shillings that day (around 35 USD) on a facial and really good food, I can even analyze the fact I got so happy by material things. This program causes a lot of self-introspection along with a lot of thinking of your surroundings (I think that would occur with or without the SIT program). I rationalize that day by saying this... 1) Garden City exists even though Northern Uganda is in shambles because there is money in Kampala because of corruption, tourism, and corruption. 2) It is not awful to spend 90,000 shillings because who wouldnt want a facial and really good Indian food. All I can do is be greatful that I can do that. And no, (I am now talking to myself who thinks it would have been better to not spend the money and give it away) I am not bad for not giving that money to the homeless person infront of Garden City because had I given that money it owuld have sustained that person for maybe 3 months and created a dependence thought process (not that one donation of 90,000 would do that, but it encourgaes the idea). There are many more reasons for why it is not awful and I would love to discuss them with anyone who would want to discuss them. 3) Material goods do provide a sense of happiness... I lived without them for a month and half and I was happy, I got them for a day and I was happy. It is a different kind of happiness that yes, you can loose yourself in, or enjoy for one day and then make a rule not to go backk until the last day to have a fancy dinner with your study abroad group on a revolving restaurant that overlooks the city of Kampala.
We leave to Mbarara(sp?) tomorrow to look at refugee camps. Fun stuff.
Btw... Obama sent 100 US troops to Uganda to fight Kony. Kony and the LRA are not in Uganda... I see a problem with this logic. Maybe... the US sent 100 US troops to keep Al Shabab in Somalia and maybe they are here to check out the huge oil supply found in Northern Uganda. Good ol' Musevini has been fighting the war in Somalia for the US for quite some time. Recently, Al Shabab has gotten a little crazy and attacked refugee camps in Kenya... and recently the US sent 100 troops. Maybe there is not a connection to the oil and Al Shabab.... but I think it is worth asking why 100 troops were sent to Uganda when the target is in the Congo.