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Uganda is troubled with Malaria, a disease not commonly found in America. Despite the risk of entering a malaria zone, I traveled there for three weeks this summer. I was joined by 23 other high school students for a unique experience vastly different from everyday life in America.
Although English is the official language of Uganda, the kids spoke their native language more fluently. So, we decided to learn a few words and phrases to break the language barrier. Mzungu is the word for foreigner, and it was used in place of my name for all three weeks. Adults and children stared, pointed, and said mzungu everyday of our journey. Although no one day was the same, the day we arrived describes the most important aspects of my entire trip.
After four plane rides totaling 19 hours, I finally landed at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. Immediately some things were different. For starters, the landscape was not what I expected; everything was green except the famous red Ugandan dirt. The capital, Kampala, is quite developed with a population of about 1,723,300. However, the town we were staying in was more of a village.
Upon entering the village, Kaliro, we were greeted by children. They were very curious, and at first both my group and the children were a little shy. However, soon we were all playing and smiling together. Our favorite game to play together was duck duck goose. I formed a bond with one little boy right away; he didn’t speak English, but he would grab my hand and smile. That was the simplest and most beautiful friendship I have ever had. The Ugandan culture in general is really friendly. If they were able to, they would start up a conversation thanking us for coming and welcoming us to their homes. All they wanted was to laugh and smile with us.
The original purpose of this trip was to help the Ugandans by building a school. Although this was accomplished, I found that the Ugandans were a bigger help to me. They showed me kindness and demonstrated the support a community should have for each other. Life in Uganda is incomprehensible to many Americans, but I would return in the blink of an eye if it meant that I could see my very happy Ugandan friends again.