I left home and everything familiar and two days later walked off the plane into what felt like a completely new world. I was tired and exhausted but the smile wouldn’t go away. By the end of my first day, I’m not going to lie, I cried my eyes out and I thought, “What the heck am I doing in this place?” So many new things and completely out of my comfort zone, but over the next 3 months I learned exactly why I chose to be there and how life changing it truly would be.
Bududa District is beautiful and green and full of humble and kind people.
I was completely thrown into the culture and I loved that. I would walk 40 minutes to the clinic every day and say “mulembe” to my friends making chapatti on the side of the road. The kids would run up and touch my hands and giggle uncontrollably. They love pictures and watches and stickers and candy.
The clinic is a safe place for people in the community to come and get help. The staff is extraordinary! They are amazing with the people, and help volunteers learn and grow and become involved in whatever they are interested in. I mostly worked in the lab and tested patients for malaria and HIV and lots of other things. It was busy and exciting. I learned so much about diseases that are prevalent there. I absolutely loved working with the OVCs also. The kids are full of life and are learning and growing every day. We had about 25 orphaned and vulnerable children in the program while I was there and I grew to love each of them. These kids are going to grow up and conquer the world. Working in the maternity ward I got to see a glimpse of the strength of the women in Uganda. Doing outreach visits opened my eyes to the generosity and respect that the people in Bududa district have for the FIMRC staff and volunteers. Teaching lessons about health education seems like a small thing in the moment, but as I look back, these are the type of things that are going to help the people for the rest of forever. Our FIMRC staff is shaping the future of Bududa district.
Over the 3 months I was there, I laughed and cried with the staff. I had dance parties in the lab with some of my favorite people. I saw babies come into the world. I saw people being helped. I rode on so many bodas. I hiked to beautiful waterfalls and up mountains. I ate way too much chapatti and drank way too much tea. I learned how to fit 57 people into an 8 person taxi. I learned what it means to truly care about your patients. I learned to love candles. I played soccer with the local boys. I held countless little hands. I ate in people’s homes. I heard people’s stories. I had happy moments and hard moments. I saw lives changed, and my life changed. This strange and unknown land became my forever home.