Uganda - Maggie

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    Mzungu, hi!” Probably the phrase I heard the most. Mzungu means “white person,” and children would come running out of their homes shouting this greeting. Everywhere you go in Iganga, the children are thrilled when you pass by, laughing and shouting until you are no longer in their sight. Sometimes this meant children would follow us for miles, and I often wondered how they knew how to return. The man in this photo is setting down yellow jerry cans—jugs they fill with water from the nearby pump.
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    Food shopping: This was a little stand around the corner from our house where we would buy fruits and veggies and sometimes eggs. Since heating up leftovers isn’t an option with the lack of refrigerators, visits to the stand happened daily in order to prepare 3 full meals. Besides us, the volunteers, most families have multiple family members and hired help in one household, thus many mouths to feed.
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    Girls pumping water in the orphanage where I worked. This is how many people in their homes, not just at the school, got their water.
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    The 500 some children, over half of which are orphans, get fed a cup of very watered down porridge for breakfast and then posho (corn mush) and beans for lunch and dinner. Many of the days, we would give Cook Ronald a rest and serve porridge—a much more physically and emotionally challenging task than expected. Hundreds of ravenous children lined up at this hot, smoke filled kitchen ready to fill their dirty, melting plastic cups with boiling porridge. While I was overwhelmed by the never-ending line of desperate faces and was shocked every time I burned my fingers, I watched in awe and sadness as the hungry children gulped the scorching meal down. Plans were drafted later to work on a more nutritious meal plan for the children.
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    Ain’t your regular bar. This is called a millet brewery, where Ugandans go out drinking. It was quite an experience in this cozy little hut sitting next to chickens, communally sipping on this warm, chunky, bubbling concoction. I purposely left the bucket of millet brew out of the photo because it’s just something you must see in person.
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    On Safari: We rented a guide and a car for a couple hours. Elephants were my favorite! It’s amazing how the animals just roam in parts of the country. Different parts of the world call for different perspectives. I loved how some of the children we passed or interacted with were bewildered, terrified, overwhelmed with delight—much like how we acted when we encountered animals!—but they are not phased by the elephants or baboons near their school.
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    Mid-day on our porch, we often hand-wrote out plans and proposals for the orphanage. Of course, we always had out fans who were always fascinated with us.
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    Besides serving at orphanages, volunteers and/or their families can sponsor an orphan, buying him/her clothes, food, supplies, or whatever other needs to a certain amount of time. This boy, Peter, was one of the needier children out of the neediest. I was able to provide Peter with some clothes, a mattress with sheets, and a mosquito net.
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    Getting ready for a feast: The preparations are half the fun.
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    Cooking without all the gadgets and fancy equipment that we rely on.
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    It took weeks for this little guy (whom we called “Baby Boogers”—you can imagine why) to get used to us. We were probably the first non-Ugandans he’d ever encountered, and for a while we usually filled him with terror.
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    White-water rafting…in the Nile! This was everyone’s favorite excursion. From the town Jinja you can travel to the Nile and raft in grade 5 rapids (at times described as scarier than bungy-jumping). We recommend using Nile Explorers for this travel package.
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    Their staple crop. You eat it like mashed potatoes. It was not our favorite but soon had to get used to it. Warning—they sit in your stomach like bricks!
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    So much love!
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    Til we meet again. This was a trip that I will not soon forget, and I know I will return to Uganda one day.

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