Tonight I was looking at photos from my first trip to Uganda (2011), and I found this one. These children are looking through a fence, watching us as we’re setting up for our medical clinic at Namuwongo Slums – at the time, the worst slum in Kampala. It may still be.
For some reason on that first trip, I took a lot of photos of kids looking through fences and windows and doorways.
They were fascinated by us -a bunch of white people carrying boxes and running around and moving things. We were turning whatever place we were in into a medical clinic for the day. These kids don’t see a lot of white people, so that accounted for some of the staring. But most of the staring was because they wanted what we had.
We had clean(ish) clothes, and shoes that matched. We had backpacks and water bottles, and lunches, and iPhones and other cameras. We all thought we weren’t bringing a lot of unnecessary personal stuff, but to these kids, we were literally bringing Costco (not that they know what Costco is).
They wanted what we had. But not just the stuff; to be honest, they wouldn’t have a lot of use for most of our necessary stuff. Life is different in Uganda. But they wanted other things we had. Clean bodies. Healthy teeth. No noticeable open sores. Shoes that matched, or just shoes. Guaranteed food for the week. A good chance of living past 45. A hot shower, with clean water. School.
They want what we have. Sure, they might like some of our stuff and they might enjoy Southern California life (that’s where I am) for a few weeks or months, but I really think they’d probably be happier in their own country – as long as they could have a chance to live. These kids in the photos certainly saw our phones and wanted them; but at a deeper level they saw LIFE and wanted that.
That’s why I go to Uganda. In 2011, 2013 and 2015 I was there, and saw thousands of people who want what we have. This summer I’ll see thousands more (and I’ll talk to hundreds) who want what we have. We can’t give everything to everyone – but we can give medical care and hope to thousands.
If you’d like to help make my summer project in Uganda possible this year, please do one of two things…
A) email me at email@example.com, and ask how to support the trip. I’ll give you info;
B) Come to the “Send Charley Back to Uganda” Concert on March 5, and you will have an opportunity at that event to help. Email me for details on the concert (again – firstname.lastname@example.org).