Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Volume 3, Issue 3
April 7, 2008
…recalling every detail…
I’m sitting in a coffee shop, in Franklin, TN. I am surrounded by wealth – restaurants, shops, buildings of all kinds, but my mind is far from here. My mind travels across thousands of miles and into the depths of my memory. I see pictures, memories of those I love. I want to say hello, I want to reach out and hug them. I want to chase the local kids, grab them and squeeze them, tell them I love them and am proud of them, ask them about school, watch as they try to run from me as I chase, and see the huge smile on their faces when I catch them.
I miss morning walks along a dirt road. I miss passing the boda boda (motorcycle) drivers and the acrid smell of petroleum. I miss saying hello to Aruna and Godfrey, both peddlers of petroleum who sit for 12 hours a day trying to sell their fuel to the boda drivers. I miss passing through the gates of Nyahuka Health Centre IV, the greeting of the mothers and family members sitting outside the pediatric ward, waiting for me and the day to begin. I miss weighing the peds patients, seeing them each day, rounding on them with Jennifer, Heidi, and the local staff. I miss the smiles and thankfulness of the HIV/AIDS patients on Wednesday ARVS clinics.
I miss the river, throwing kids into the water as they scream with delight. I miss the knocks on my door – finding small children standing eagerly by hoping that I will give them the soccer ball or crayons to color with. I even miss early morning Wednesday prayer time (6:30 am) and definitely long for Thursday team meetings highlighted by the communal assemblage of brick oven pizzas made on the Myhre’s grill.
I miss a lot of things about Bundibugyo, and I think I always will. Most of all I miss the relationships – the kids, health staff, neighbors, teammates, young men – my companions and friends.
In the past three weeks I have tried to adjust back to American life, and I think I will eventually, but not just yet. It is too early for me to move on from such an experience. Too early for me to forget names, faces, smells, memories. Time will fade many of these recollections, but for now, I sit in a coffee shop looking at photos of those I love, trying to recall every detail, remembering the children that died and those that lived, remembering the laughter of the children outside my door, the commitment and encouragement of my teammates, the lush green beauty of a vast tropical land, and the simple reality of poverty, despair, hardships, trials, and devastation that many Ugandans where on their faces everyday of their lives.