Day one in Kampala. I pushed my load of luggage out of the airport to the welcome area and scanned the crowd for a sign with my name. Thirty pairs of eyes laughed when I just blurted out “Fairway hotel?””Ah Fairway Hotel!” Ten fingers pointed outside to a smiling uniformed man carrying a sign with “Mr. Christine” printed on it. In the distance were rolling hills covered with little lights and a starry night above. In complete contradiction to what I was told the climate felt ideal for the human body… almost nurturing. It immediately made sense that this was the cradle of humanity. It was a brilliant greeting. Thirty minutes later I was covered in mosquito bites (thank goodness I had already started my malaria meds) and breathing smoke from open fires and kerosene lamps that line the teeming road to Kampala.
Dina Buck,(http://advocacynet.org/wordpress-mu/dbuck/) my summer colleague was waiting for me the hotel. We shared some fresh pineapple juice and Indian food in the lush garden patio and planned how we would maximize our time before heading to Gulu. We agreed that we wanted a balance of meetings, preparation/shopping time and a good dose of local culture. Dina agreed to let me drag her to dance shows! Breakdance Project Uganda- here we come.(http://www.myspace.com/breakdanceprojectuganda) Later, lying under our mosquito nets we giggled sharing stories of home. To our surprise we both have a deep connection to the Puget Sound in Washington state and we cooed as we recalled smacking the sea water at night with our oars to ignite the glowing sea plankton. We are going to have great time together.
We were brutally awoken by the sound of giant birds cawing outside our window and joked that a pterodactyl was trying to break in. We enjoyed some of the best fruit I’ve ever had and then cabbed it to the center of town. After Dina guided me through purchasing a cell phone and exchanging money-neither of which were straightforward at all, I repaid her kindness by dragging her through some overwhelming street markets that probably sell everything one could imagine.
It was in this hustle and bustle that I had my first heart wrenching encounter with a person who had lost the use of their legs and was required to crawl through the filthy streets. In one hour I witnessed at least five more persons with similar disabilities. No wheelchairs or handicap accessible buildings in sight. My work is cut out for me, but it’s going to be a magical summer.
Posted By Christine Marie Carlson
Posted Jun 11th, 2010