Early morning rays shine on mud-brick houses and the dirt road which weaves between them. Tin roofs glitter beneath pink and orange clouds, and green gardens are covered with droplets of dew. Everything is fresh after last night’s rain, and the packed earth still holds a smattering of puddles. Except for a rooster’s call and a chorus of birds, all is quiet.
A baby rocks to sleep, swaddled tightly to his mother, and cows amble down the road, kept in line by their herder with his long stick. Roadside shop-owners awake and set out their wares as groups of children in faded uniforms make their way to school.
And the sun climbs higher, revealing deep blue sky behind fluffy clouds, bright red dust beneath countless feet, and a million and one shades of green growing from every direction.
Thus morning dawns in the simple East African village of Ssenga.
It’s a tiny village, located about an hour from Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. Most Ugandans don’t even know it exists – sandwiched as it is between acres of bush along an inconspicuous dirt path branching off the main road.
At the beginning of the village is a mosque; near the middle, a church. There are two schools, a roadside vegetable stand and a small collection of shops. Off the beaten path is a place where people make bricks, a pump where they collect water, and numerous little gardens where they grow their food.
But there are no spectacular landmarks in my village. There are no famous artifacts on display. And no tourists have ever visited. Yet they should. Because what they’ll find on display in Ssenga is the beauty of simplicity.
Here there are no sidewalks, garbage cans, or street lights to steal from nature’s beauty, no smoke except from cooking fires, no traffic except cows and bicycles. Here people don’t hurry by each other on their way to problems and programs. Instead, they stop and greet one another. Here they pause long enough to take in the wonder of life.
The people of my village have no Facebook, but they know the joy of talking face to face. No Twitter, but everyday they listen to the intermingled tweets of a hundred birds making music. None of them have ever clicked “like” or typed “LOL”, but when they find pleasure in something they laugh out loud with some of the most beautiful smiles on earth.
Come visit Ssenga, and escape the hustle of life’s crowded streets and demanding schedules. Come early in the morning and wake up to the sun instead of an alarm. Come late at night and look at the stars instead of a television screen. Leave a life of abrupt shifting from one crowded time slot to another, and enjoy a day which flows as freely as rain water down a hillside. Expect much, but stress little. Learn to live in the simple pleasures of life.
Come to Ssenga and discover a world that lies beyond our fast-paced technology and hectic schedules, a beautiful world ready to be seen, heard, and savored in all its fullness: blue-headed lizards doing push-ups on banana trees, fog-covered valleys pierced by bright rays of orange sunsets, eucalyptus trunks swaying in the wind, rain pouring down on green fields, and some three hundred people with bright eyes and genuine hearts who would love to sit down and talk with you over a cup of African tea.
Experience time spent with real people, a day spent without hurry, and a landscape shining with natural beauty.
Experience simplicity. Experience Ssenga.
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