December 19, 2015. I boarded a plane for Uganda, Africa. Uganda is a landlocked country in east Africa with a population of around 37 million people and an average life expectancy of around 53 years. Over 7% of Uganda’s population live with HIV/AIDS. Life in Uganda is hard, and I was going there with 4 other friends to visit a couple of orphanages and love on the kiddos.
One of our first stops was to the slums of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, where children are often left to fend for themselves. Houses in the slums are basically rooms cut out of concrete walls–no electric, no plumbing, no furniture, no doors. They are just holes in the wall. We met 25 boys who all “lived” in 2 rooms that were about 10 x 10 . Once or twice a week, rice is cooked and given to the children in the slums. For many, this is the only meal they will have all day, or even for several days. And it’s just rice. Nothing else. How many times do I complain that I don’t have anything to eat when it’s really more that I don’t want the choices that are in front of me?
We visited both a boys’ and a girls’ home. Many of the boys came from the slums. Many of the girls were abandoned by their families. I’d love to show more pictures but technical limitations won’t let me.
Perspectives change when I go on international trips, which is a good thing. It’s easy for me to get caught up in my own little world, to develop tunnel vision, and forget that there’s a majority of the world’s population just struggling to survive every day. Some how it makes the ants crawling over my counter tops in my comfy house where there is running water, electricity, heat and air conditioning nothing to get bent out of shape about. Hearing these kids’ stories, seeing how they live in the slums, watching them pump water for all of life’s necessities, certainly redefines a bad day in my world.
After all, I’m going to get up in the morning, turn on the faucet for a nice warm shower, choose from multiple options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, relax on my soft, comfy couch and when it’s time, go to a job that pays me more than enough to buy all the things I need. I hope the next time I’m grumbling about how hard marathon training is that I remember my young Ugandan friends who pump and haul water and hoe the garden all before a breakfast of millet porridge and without a single complaint or frown. I have no idea what hard is…