My first week has flown by.
This is becoming a redundant statement, I feel like I am always saying this. None the less, I have felt extremely present since returning, but I guess time flies when you are doing what you love.
I have come back to find the projects carrying on well and the staff in a great place. We had a really good week. Things seemed to flow.
We welcomed two new volunteers to Bujagali, sisters from South Carolina. One is a kindergarten teacher and the other a school counselor so I’m excited to see how they will contribute to SOUL.
Brooke and I thought it would be fitting to have Mama Roman and her girls host them. Mama Roman is lovely and the best baker in the village. What makes her house so special is that it is all women. She has a son, Roman, but he is currently working in South Sudan. Rusty (19), Petwa (18), Gorret (14), Barba (12) and Mariam (9) love to sing and dance the day away and well into the night. As I approached the house this morning, I could hear them singing from a few minutes away.
All the girls are so unique but their dynamic together is beautiful! It’s hard to put into words. Since I can remember, I have always wanted a sister, so I’m a little envious of their sisterhood.
For the women in the village, the sense of community is growing more and more. They are members of chicken, goat and fish groups, agriculture programs and tailoring school. In addition to learning a skill, they now cherish the time together. They get to break away from never ending household duties, children and husbands. They laugh, vent and get to just BE.
Although this community existed before, it has really strengthened since SOUL began in 2009. They see the value in female relationships. Although family ties run deep in Bujagali, I have witnessed the women rely more on each other for support and friendship. For example, before SOUL Mama Ali and Mama Muganda (wife #1 and #2 of Tata Muganda) had a rocky barely existant relationship. Now they willingly and lovely prepare and share family meals together. They are close friends first and co-wives second.
After this last time back home, I feel more grateful than ever for the women in my life. Young or old, near or far, the different webs of friendship that have been woven over the years exemplify the beauty of this universe. I learn so much about myself and world through my friends. The bonds don’t seem to have a limit of depth. Some I have known for more than twenty years – the understanding and lack of judgment is one of a kind. Some I have met within the last few years and they are of no less importance. They seem to have come at the right time or filled the void of always wanting a sister.
It is easier to tear each other down when fueled with insecurity and jealousy but it takes a strong women to build each other up and nurture such relationships. I’m so thankful to be part of this community here and grateful for all the strong, determined, loving, caring, hilarious and crazy women in my life back home and around the world.
In their own way, each one has helped me to get where I am today. It isn’t easy to leave these beautiful souls for my adventure in Africa but in many ways relationships have strengthened ten-fold. I cherish the time I get to spend with them, whether it be a concert at Red Rocks, hours of delectable bites, wine and conversations late into the night or a Skype chat.
I have learned that it’s not about being perfect, but being exactly who you are in that moment. I truly believe I am part of network of women who are changing the world through each one’s unique artistry.
On another note, I had the perfect Sunday.
I had some quiet moments in town to write and sip a cappuccino. With the help and motivation of a the younger boys Shamushade (my dad’s student, Mini Muganda and Awaali, I painted my house. And with the guidance and a lot of help from Ali and Araphat, I started my garden!
Right as the sun was setting, some of Mama Roman’s girls brought over my curtains freshly finished by Mama Isaac. She charged me 5,000 ugx ($1.87) to sew four curtains.
Oh life in Uganda….
Sending love to Tata Stepha today…HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!!! Dedicating my garden to my dad!