Uganda Blogs: Drew
Blog 2 (Tuesday)
This morning, I woke up to the sound of rain falling…sounds like home. Maybe I was to tired to realize, but it felt very much like I was back in my bed at home in State College. Because of this, I failed to notice the mosquito net surrounding my bed that made getting up an unexpected challenge, the sounds of nature finding its way through our open window, or the fact that I was in an entirely different country. Even after I had gotten up, taken a cold shower, and grabbed a cup of the local coffee, it can still be hard to distinguish my home from Malayaka House. We all feel right at home in this community. Everyone greets you as if you had been a part of the family for years and offers you a helping hand. Even the ~vicious~ guard dogs take every opportunity to snuggle up next to you when you sit down to take a break.
I had managed to get up a bit earlier than everyone else this morning. This gave me an extra hour or two to think about all the experiences I had the day before. There is seldom a quiet moment here, so this was the perfect opportunity for reflection without any interruptions. Uganda and Malayaka House have surprised me. I am amazed to see how happy each of the children are and how natural it feels driving through the streets of Entebbe. It really can be hard to remember that we are not at home.
I don’t want to be misunderstood. Uganda is not that much different from the United States. We both have our own sets or laws, cultures, etc. that play into who we are, but at the core they are the same. There are a lot of negative stereotypes about African countries that are perpetuated in American culture. I wish that everyone had the opportunity to visit Malayaka House so that they can see first hand what Uganda is really like. This orphanage is an amazing community that provides food, shelter, water, and love to children that would otherwise not have access to it.
Once everybody was awake and ready for the day, Robert Fleming, the founder of Malayaka House, sat us all down for a discussion about what we had experienced so far and how our second day was going to unfold. The discussion started off as we had done the night before, going around mentioning some of our favorite moments. Once we all had our turn to talk, Robert spoke about the orphanage and it’s plans for the future. This is what led to our discussion about Ugandan life outside the orphanage’s walls. Unfortunetly, the children of Malayaka House cannot stay there forever. Eventually, they are going to have to move out and find a life on their own. This means that they will be exposed to some really heavy issues within Uganda. Just to name a few, Robert mentioned economic problems, educational issues within the public and private schools, government inconsistencies, and the Lord’s Resistance Army. I have never been more disgusted after learning about the LRA. Although Uganda is a beautiful country that has given us the sense of belonging, it has many issues that causes worry about the future of the children at Malayaka House.
Here’s a quick idea of the kind of world these kids are going to enter when they leave Malayaka House. They will leave the compound with a better education than the average Ugandan, but that will still not be much more than the basics of reading and math. They will face unemployment rates that make finding a job nearly impossible. The cost of living will be unreasonable compared to the ability to obtain funds. Major diseases are such a big problem from Ugandans that the children learn bout HIV and Malaria in their social studies courses at school. With all this weighing down on the kids, it is hard to imagine what their futures will hold. However, I am not worried.
Robert has done an incredible job of teaching the children about these issues and preparing them for the next chapters of their lives. If anyone is going to thrive in modern day Uganda, it’s these kids. I believe that the children of Malayaka House are going to be a part of the solution to many of the issues facing Uganda. They are going to be economic leaders in their communities by creating new jobs and businesses. They are going to advocate for healthy living and education. Robert and his team of caretakers have shown me that they work really hard to give these children the best lives possible. They have a plan for each of the children and I know that they will succeed in giving these kids the ability to shape the future of their country. Malayaka House does more than just give orphans a home, it is creating a better future for Uganda one child at at time.