Wobulenzi - day 1

July 19, 2010

Travel, especially this kind, is humbling.

It is a deep humbling, the kind that stays with you, and checks your imbalance when you tend to think that you are bigger than you are.

I remember a friend saying that moving helped him realize that he was small.

In Africa, I am realizing that I am small.

One walks off the tarmac with big aspirations in a place like this, and there are things like broken computers, forgotten items and unmatched generosity to bring one back to smallness.

Smallness does not come naturally. In my life, it seems to come mostly in places like Wobulenzi, Haiti, Jinja. In these places, I learn more about others, less about myself. Perhaps others do that naturally. I do not.

I am staying with Alex and Millie Ojera, who run the Ugandan side of Align Ministries, as well as leading a local church, and starting three schools and a medical mission for AIDS victims in the area, among several other things.

The Ojera family is like a living organism, growing and shrinking in proportion to need. There are cousins, orphans, sick and those just getting on their feet financially. Opportunity is found here. Life is re-found here. Healing is found here. Millie, whom everyone calls "Mommie!" told me the stories of the people staying in her house this morning, while leaning on the ironing board and pausing to tell her son to put on a "staying shirt, not a going shirt!" There is the housekeeper, and her daughter, who Millie hopes will stay so that they can continue to send her to school. There is Isaac, whom Esther Ojera (8), calls her "cousin-brother," and two other women living here - one mistreated by her uncle, who squandered her father's estate, and the other anemic, with a long re-opening wound, who is given a place to heal, and the daily medical attention her wound requires. Cesar, whose father died this morning, lives here also, along with Morris, who works with the choir, school and church, and laughed this afternoon while telling me that my accent will change before I go. Lastly, there is me, who is being taught where things go, what water to drink, where to find the basin for showering, and perfecting the art, yet again, of relieving myself in a small hole in the ground.

I knew I was back in Africa when we walked the streets to the school, this afternoon. The children, as usual, called out "Mzungu! Mzungu!" (white person!), and one girl, called Noel (said Nowe), ventured up, after classes, to grab my hand and gloat to the others, giggling - "I am the child of a white!"

I visited the school here, this afternoon. It is growing, slowly, as people watch the small group of children attending thrive - academically and physically. On Monday nights, children from the village come to play on the swing sets and hear a lesson. The hope is that these nights will grow Align's ministry to the children of Wobulenzi, as it has grown in Bombo and Kakooge.

The rains here come heavy and short in the afternoon, leaving a scorching humidity. My room is in the back corner of the house, opposite the kitchen, which is a small corridor filled with pots and pans and a stove on the floor (pictured below). Outside there is a patio with a faucet for filling water basins, and two outhouses beyond that.

It is beautiful here.


Kelly said...

Take care of yourself. Your writing about this is striking, by the way.