Like I mentioned before, and as Brooke warned me, there are individuals around the village that are “your people.” These are people who you instantly connect with on a deep level. The connection goes beyond intellectual comprehension, which is the best part.
One of “my people” is Musa. He is probably about 15-years-old and the son of Sal, an active father in the S.O.U.L. community with a contagious smile. I met Musa for the first time a few weeks ago during the set up of our bi-annual community meeting (stay tuned for more about this amazing event from the CEO herself, Brooke Stern). We were collecting one hundred chairs to accommodate the hundreds of villagers coming to attend.
The chairs belonged to Musa’s grandmother, so we were collecting them from her house. Her house is surrounded by the houses of her many sons, creating a not so small family community. Once we counted the chairs, we begun stacking and balancing them on our heads; still being a baby in Africa, I was provided with a cushion of some folded up banana leaves between the chairs and my head. This was one of the first times I felt like a true Ugandan.
Musa was there helping us move the chairs and tent. Like his father, he has an infectious smile. It is easy to see he is a gentle soul and his demeanour exudes an air well beyond a 15-year-old boy. We didn’t exchange many words then, but I felt a happiness around him that I imagined was a qualification to be considered one of “my people.”
I later told Brooke about meeting Musa. I figured that I would be able to get to know him better overtime. Things here are either very easy and effortless or the complete opposite and inexplicably difficult, so I had faith that we would meet again.
This last week while walking to my favorite yoga spot, an unfinished and uninhabited bar, I passed by Musa’s house. From behind the bush barrier wall he told me he had a surprise for me. This being my first announced surprise in Uganda, I pondered what it could be.
The day after my birthday, Arafat told me that Musa had stopped by and dropped off a letter. Like Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I opened the hand-made envelope not wanting to rip or alter any of the contents. Enclosed were three separate notes, each labeled with the order in which I was meant to read them.
As I began to read one of the notes, I was amazed by the thoughtfulness and love that each word carried. It was so unexpected and so heartwarming.
Below is an excerpt from the note: the Sam referred to in the letter is a friend and active volunteer in S.O.U.L.
I send my warm greetings to you. How is Brooke and how is work. On my side I am very happy that I am back to have enough time to chat with you. I was or felt happy in heart the first time I saw you. I remember the first day I met Samantha. Samantha was just like my mother because wherever she went we could walk together, chat together. But I think you will be like her. Please what I want you to know is that I want you to become my best friend in the village as it was with Samantha. I conclude by saying that if it is possible send greetings to Samantha asking her how is Colorado and how is the family. Tell her that I say I wish I could have enough energy and wings, I would have come to visit her but I am missing her very much and wish her a happy new year. I will wait for her next year.
Your lovely friend,
It was the last thing I read before going to sleep and the first thing I thought about in the morning. The good feeling carried me through the day.
Although the people here may be deprived of electricity, modern technology or a guarantee at formal education, their understanding of human connection is far from lacking. I received so many amazing gifts for my birthday, but this was perhaps one of the most special.
It is hard to know what all I will take away from this experience, but it is not far-fetched to say that I will come away with a whole village of friends.
Peace out for now,