We did it!
I'm getting on a 15 hour flight to Dubai this afternoon. After that, I'll be on a direct flight from Saudi Arabia to Entebbe, Uganda where I will get picked up for a trek through Kampala, up Bombo Road to the village of Bomo.
I can't thank you all enough - every single one of you who contributed, in a thousand different ways - to get me to where I am standing now.
Paul Simon couldn't have missed the mark more when he called himself a rock and an island. Nothing has made it more obvious to me that life is group effort than my trips overseas to work with the impoverished.
Sometimes, I feel like the smallest part of them. To me, they are the grandfather who writes a check after hearing that I don't have enough funding for my flight, the life-long friend who reminds that, "this is redemption," the photographer who makes time to meet me for coffee and the friend who writes that I should remember to take wide angles, because I tend to focus on children's faces - "and people will want to see what the village looks like." They are the dear friend's mother who hears that I cannot afford my malarone, and slips a check for just the right amount into a card postmarked from a small town in Washington.
They are the people who donated without ever meeting me in person, the people who donated after meeting me once and the people who donated because they have known me since I was little. They are the editor who reminded me, again and again, that I need to focus on people when I write, and the friends who have consistently reminded me that I would get here, especially when it felt like I wouldn't. They are Gramps, who choked me up this afternoon when he got out of his chair to tell me good luck, and "come here, baby."
They are the boy in Afghanistan, who called to hear all about it, in the midst of walking in trenches filled with sewage, and long nights spent hiking in the desert. They are his mother, who believes in, and prays faithfully for, a girl she hasn't ever met. They are my father, who believes in me with a fierce, protective love that loves me when I'm here, but can't wait to watch me get to leave.
They are my mother, in more ways than I can count, and Beta, who reminds me of why I am doing what I am doing, every single time I look at her.
I am humbled by the weight of the love that has been poured out on me, and my hopes for this trip to Uganda.
THANK YOU FOR SENDING ME BACK.