NOTE: Our trip is not over! Just David leaving early.

Just a week ago I had been in Uganda for about a week and it felt like it had been a month. Now, after two weeks, it feels like it’s been a flash of a dream.

After a bit more than two weeks in Uganda, I’m bringing back a few things. With me I’m bringing back the same shoes I wore here, except red with the ever-present red dirt of Uganda. I’m also bringing back my camera which has a cracked screen after all that hard work. I’m bringing back emails, numbers, and names of the people I’ve met, and perhaps most importantly, I’m bringing back memories. Memories through my pictures, memories through my experience.

So what could possibly make these memories so important? First and most importantly, the people, the friends. Through this travel, I’ve made some awesome friends within our travel team and learned some interesting things about them. Rebecca, our awesome and tireless travel leader, never sleeps in the car! Whenever we travel to far MFP sites, Rohan, Allison, or I doze off for a decent amount of time, but Rebecca is always vigil, perhaps looking out for the team or maybe just daydreaming, but she’s a strong leader. Rohan, the only college (non-SEAS) kid in the group, is a smarty pants who does physics and has a great sense of humor & addresses our technical questions very well. Allison is the freshman of the group, and she’s a very bright person who lightens up the mood of the group through various…unique ways. One of those includes…. barking, literally like a dog. Haha. She does quite a great imitation and I told her she might be a dog if she reincarnates. Bethany is the amazing work horse of the group. She does a lot of planning for the rainwater system and she never gets tired of working in the field. One day Harrison and I were working the whole day and we got exhausted, asking/whining for a break, and Bethany just wanted to keep going! And finally Harrison, the popular kid of our group. Haha. He is just talented in so many ways… rapping, breakdancing, singing, guitar, and he knows tons about just so many random topics… quite an interesting character. Often our group got into heated discussions about religion, science, faith… and we have had our differences and haven’t reached consensus on many topics, but we have accepted our differences and we have gotten quite close. I think this is one of the beauties of EWB trips: bringing people from such different backgrounds into one trip where we have to cope with each other and hopefully we learn more from each other.

I’ve also made some more local friends: the supermarket guys who often gave us free stuff whenever we buy conspicuously large numbers of water bottles; the villagers at Orungo/Usuk who’ve been quite cooperative and their simple hospitality and relaxed attitude; the people at Golden Ark, Esther, Grace, and Eve; the officers at Pilgrim who have a positive attitude and has done a lot to help out the community; and finally, the kids at the school who are so bright and encouraging for us and perhaps gave me the best memories in Uganda. There is a pair of brothers whom I have especially gotten close to, Baker/Emmanuel, who aspire to be a journalist/economist respectively and whom I hope someday will make a great difference in Uganda.

When I wake up from this dream and look back, there will be things I will and won’t miss. The most obvious is the people, people of simple and positive attitude here who despite the oppressive history have strived and often seem so much happier than people in the US. What I won’t miss: some hygiene issues, especially stomach issues… which I’ve suffered the worst of in the group. And most of all, mosquitoes/bugs and all the misery they bring. Because of these bugs we have to paste ourselves with DEET everyday in addition to the sunscreen, and it’s almost as if we add another layer of chemical skin to our bodies… I definitely won’t miss this extra layer.

When I wake up, one thing I would have wished to do would be spending more time with my team and the kids, and being able to see more of Uganda, the beautiful landscape, mountains, waterfalls, safaris, animals, and nature. But when I wake up and get working at a lab for 10 weeks, I wouldn’t have regretted any of it because even though it was short, at least it was sweet and it let me experience the other side of the world.

Uganda is a beautiful country and it has beautiful people. If all goes well, I hope to come back once, if not more, to see more, meet more people, and learn more. Thanks everyone for reading these blogs, and good luck to my travel team for the next two weeks in finishing up the project!

Peace out.

P.S. Some departing picture gifts ahead.