A two-way street
I met an English dude named David here in Kampala, Uganda’s capital. Decorated with blonde cornrows and white-rimmed shades, he hardly seemed a source of wisdom at first glance. A teacher by profession, I learned of his work here in creating sport programs for youth empowerment and community building.
I spoke to him on some thoughts I’ve had concerning our project and this trip.
I’ve found providing updates to people back home a difficult space to navigate. Creating transparent and truthful content is important. Doing so without romanticising local challenges and stories is a priority.
David gave me some advice. The more I’ve reflected on this, the more poignant I realise it is.
He told me that helping is a two-way street.
The work of a non-profit group is often distilled into a simple indicator. It might be how many people have been given access to clean water, or access to electricity. A narrow focus on such metrics can create a dichotomous world view - people that need things and people that can give things. So why can this be unhealthy?
Because the beneficiaries do give back.
I’ve only experienced 6 weeks in Uganda and acknowledge that I’m seriously underqualified to write about this. Nevertheless, I’ve realised the people Uganda have given me a lot.
At this time, our group hasn’t given back anything. But in my time here, I’ve received three things:
A different perspective of what’s important
Happiness is not derived from material things. In Australia, life satisfaction plateaus beyond a basic-needs threshold1. This is especially evident in Uganda. Warm smiles and contagious laughter have carried through every community we’ve visited, wealthy and poor. It’s not all smiles all the time - that’s not real life. But the appreciative mindset here is a good reminder of what’s important.
An insight into an exciting community
There’s a real solidarity uniting the farmers around Mt. Elgon. Without painting it as some utopian village of love and nature, it is an idyllic place. People are quick to lend a hand, to share knowledge and to help their neighbours be better coffee farmers. This culture gets me excited and is why this area is a burgeoning hub of specialty coffee. It promotes equality and collaboration and welcomes curiosity.
An appreciation of slowing down
If you’ve been to Africa before, you’ll know that African time is a real thing (I once waited two hours for a fruit salad). Embracing African time results in an interesting paradox - slowing down can speed things up. It helps you appreciate your place in the world, and the people and things around you. It’s difficult to tune into in a fast-paced city environment where your value rests in your ability to get things done, but drawing back to these experiences is invaluable.
So long as we continue to appreciate these things we receive back, our project will thrive.
PS, very much appreciation to Annabel & Darcy for putting up with me and accepting my dreams to turn everything into a GIF. You guys are gems.
1 Our World in Data, Happiness and Life Satisfaction. Link
written by Brody
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