I’ve been away from this space for so many days. Almost two weeks to be precise. My sister Miriam turned a year older on the 10th(Don’t panic sis, I am not revealing your age here!) Patty also turned a year older on the 11th. Mike cooked her a lovely dinner and we just had a great time chatting and thanking God for the gift of life and all the special things that are happening in our lives. They are family for me now! I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my life and learn from them. My week has been a flurry of activity actually. I was in Cleveland the other weekend with Patty and Mike. It’s a much larger city than Columbus with all the high rise buildings and picturesque lakeside piers. I got to go to the Museum and I saw mummies(real actual Egyptian mummies), and Art pieces from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period (Beat that Uganda Museum). I also visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was awesome just going through memorabilia of musical greats like Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Etta James, Arethra Franklin, The Supremes, U2, The Rolling Stones. That was awesome. I wish my brother Jordan was there with me for this trip. It would have blown him away. Also, the number of guitars that were there was astounding. I am sure a few of my guitar-mad friends in Uganda would have gone into a hysterical frenzy had they seen the legendary guitars on display.
We stayed at the Adult Rehabilitation Centre of the Salvation Army at the invitation of Major Patrick Ward, a noble gentleman who runs the Centre housing drug and alcohol addicts who are in Rehab. At the Sunday service, I got to speak to a group of over 100 men; about life and overcoming obstacles. They humbled me. Struggling with alcohol and drug addictions, they came to the Rehab Centre to get help, to get their lives straightened out. Like the rest of us with all our personal demons, it is hard for them to overcome their problems many times. But they are trying; they really are trying! And Major Patrick and his team are trying their best to help them get back on their feet by virtue of encouraging them, praying with them, counselling them, offering them employment and preparing them for the world outside after their 7-month Rehabilitation program comes to an end. The most ingrained memory for me was the sight of about 12 men coming to the altar to get to know Jesus. In all their brokenness, they wanted to know Jesus! That had a profound effect on me! Many times I am on my high horses forgetting that I too need redemption. I am not better than any one else. I am just another sinner trying to live right and failing miserably many times. We had lunch with the men and got to know a few of their life stories. A particular young man and his sisters shared with me about their polygamous father and how he abandoned them and how their brother’s alcohol addiction spiraled out of control. He had been sober for 7 weeks that Sunday and they had come to see him. Such encounters always leave me thinking; about my life, what my purpose is, how I can help people, how I can be a better human being and how I can make better choices in my life. This experience has definitely been one of the profound highlights of my stay here.
Valentine’s day was so much fun(Sorry folks, I wasn’t out with a boy. I didn’t have a Valentine either. So unfortunately for you, there is no romance story coming up!) 🙂 :-). I job shadowed at Geben Communications in German Village, Columbus. It was an amazing eye-opener. Although it’s a small PR firm, the work they do is impeccable(the awards on their mantle are quite many!) I learnt a lot from Heather (the owner) and the ladies that work there. Also, I got to sit in during Client meetings, took part in a brain writing exercise and had lunch with them. In the evening, Ashley, her friend Sammy and I went out to the Red Lantern Chinese restaurant(I love Chinese food!) It’s the best export the Chinese people have given to Ugandans and the world alike(in my opinion!) And then the snow decided to fall. The weather has been moody of recent; like a cranky, tantrum-throwing 2 year-old or like an easily irritable pregnant woman. The snow fell like the world was coming to an end and the roads became slippery and almost impassible in some places. (At this point, I would like to ask the sky spirits to stop this torture of man-kind and halt the snow-fall. Or better still, suspend it till December when I am back in nicely hot Uganda, sipping cold juice from the Juice place at school). Anyway,in the end, not even the heavy snow could derail three young ladies from going out on the town. We went to Easton, window-shopped and got ourselves cute outfits. Also, we witnessed the frenzy at the mall; the place was packed like a bag of sand. We went into the Michael Kors, Victoria Secrets and Louis Vuitton stores. And I promised myself I’d never buy a $500 hand-bag(Louis Vuitton has bags with vulgar prices). That is essentially a third of the amount of money I would need to pay for a 50*100 feet plot of land at Zion Estates in Gayaza, Uganda, just on the outskirts of Kampala.(Disclaimer: If you bought me the hand-bag, I would not refuse it 🙂 I just don’t see myself going out of my way to spend that much money on a bag!). The window-shopping was fun! I can imagine what a mad-house it would have been if my girlfriends Sarah, Sandra, Annet, and Dorah had been shopping with me. The snow(yes, I am done with Winter!) kept falling and on our way back home, we almost failed to go up a hill and the car kept skidding. It didn’t help matters that another car was in a ditch nearby and a tow-truck was trying to pull it out. Eventually, we pulled through. I got home safe and so did the girls.
On Saturday, Patty, Debbie, Barbara and I went out to Mad River Mountain(the home of Skiing and Tubing in these parts). I cannot ski and I hate the cold. So I went tubing instead. It was so much fun; like going down a water slide at incredible speeds, except this time in a tyre tube. Debbie, Barbara and I squealed in absolute delight on all our rides(Never mind the fact that nobody else was screaming!)
I got the opportunity to meet an interesting lady last week. Diane Ross is a Professor at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio and she loves Uganda. Also, she’s visiting Mukono with a few of her students this summer. That should be fun. She loves reggae music so it was nice to just jam and listen to Bob Marley and Lucky Dube’s music. She had pictures of vendors from Owino market framed on her kitchen walls. That made me happy! A little piece of home in a land far far away! She also told me that there is a thriving Ugandan community in Ohio. I am yet to find them! (Abange, BanaUganda in Ohio, please hola at a sister. It would be nice to come visit one of you, or have one of you visit me and we talk about Agataliiko Nfuufu, eat matooke and binyebwa or pilawo and discuss Tamale Mirundi’s comments!)
This week has brought with it lots of beautiful things that I am so grateful for. On Monday, I had the opportunity to job shadow at Fahlgren-Mortine, the largest PR(Public Relations) firm in Ohio. It was an enriching, eye-opening experience and I realized that I have so much potential to be successful(Thank you Lara and Megan!) God has started this amazing, incredible journey in my life. I am where I am supposed to be. Last year during my school break,I persistently scoured over newspaper pages and online articles so as to get the phone contact of the owner of one of the larger PR firms in Kampala, Uganda to ask him for Internship placement at his firm. All I wanted to do was learn, just learn the ropes of the trade. I didn’t even want any pay(Yes, I am that passionate about this career path!). He gave me the most thorough 3-minute verbal lashing I’ve ever experienced in my life and told me not to waste his time and that I should call him when I had something substantial to offer. Looking back, one year on, I am amazed by how things have turned out. I got this cool opportunity, I am learning incredible PR skills and I can honestly say I am a diamond in the rough that’s being molded into a fine beautiful thing. My future looks so bright I just might wear shades at this point! One day when I am a professional PR practitioner, I will not belittle some young upstart! You never know what they will offer to your organisation in a few weeks, months or years! Never ever despise humble beginnings!
Sadly, Melanie is leaving this Friday. I am honestly bummed about that! I wish her nothing but the best. If it weren’t for her and a few other people, I would not be having this amazing opportunity today.
The Mad Hatter’s Ball is on Friday night. I am super-excited. I get to dress-up. I miss dressing up in cute dresses(The snow is always a deterrent)! But I think God heard all our prayers! It will be so much warmer than it has been all winter; almost 50 degrees Fahrenheit! (about 8 degrees Celsius)..Who ever thought I would consider 8 degrees Celsius as “very warm”? Life, oh life! When it rains in Mukono and the temperature dips to 21 degrees Celsius, I usually consider it cold and I wear a sweater and socks(hahaha)..Now, 8 degrees Celsius in Ohio seems like tropical weather to me! The irony of the situation! Also, my dear American friends, please help us(the rest of the world) and use our metric measurement units of kilometres, Celsius, kilograms e.t.c.? Everything here seems to be in reverse compared to Uganda. The toilets flush in the reverse direction, people drive on the opposite side of the road, dates are written in a MM-DD-YR fashion yet in Uganda it is in a DD-MM-YR manner. Also,in Uganda cars are left hand drives and cars here are all right hand drives! Sometimes, I get really confused. It’s not easy getting used to the differences! Sometimes I do miss home but most times, I am okay. I’ve acclimatized! When the home sickness hits, I look at this picture of the way to my village! I imagine all the baboons crossing the bridge at Karuma falls and the huts in my grandfather’s homestead and the long green grass and the blue skies. I smell the roasted maize and chicken at Corner Kamdini and the gonja. There is no place like home!