Thursday, June 26, 2008

More Pictures

Fred and myself. I'm showing him how to use a video camera.

Come Close To A Conclusion

I'm already sitting here, feeling re-adapted to my busy life. (Not a good feeling) The only things that hold me close are pictures and videos. I do not want to become a lost cause - to them, to myself. I took a small step into a new direction in my life but with this small step comes a new beginning. It has changed my life. I didn't understand the meaning before. It takes awhile to realize, I will never be the same. If words sound so harsh from a distanced point of view, you can only listen. You may truly hear me if you were to endeavour yourself into such a journey. Not for just people- but for yourself. You can start by asking yourself, "What can make tears come to my eyes when in deep thought? What can hold time still when you reflect, and put you into a limitless daze? When you figure out what actually means something to you, you have to question and examine it. (My Process) You cant just say you love God because that's how you were raised to think. Socialization. If you really believe in something you have to fight to figure it out. Faith is not faith until faith is questioned. Otherwise you are lost. "We're not alone, but we're not sheep." (And this isn't blasphemy, I believe in truth) Another thing, for those so religious based - What are you doing to be more like Jesus? Apparently he wasn't sitting around living out his own life in favor of himself. I believe we need to re-establish why we are here. We need to live for something bigger than ourselves.
I thought taking a week to collect myself would help me explain what I am going through - it didn't. All I know now is that there is more work to be done to help these people that are living with diseases and poverty. Please go to these people. Where ever they are. They need YOU. And the ironic thing is you need them.
All the stereotypes that go along with Africa- mostly untrue.
1.) The people there are beautiful, peaceful, and kind.
2.) It is safe to travel there with appropriate precautions.
3.) African-Americans and Africans are not one in the same.
4.) It is not some distant planet, it's right there, only measurable by human intentions.
5.) You have to experience it first hand to take it all in.

I will never forget them. I will never forget that place.

I wish you all could really understand. Words do no justice.

"My heart stayed in Africa."

Harrison O'dean Wenger-Anderson

P.S. I am working on a video that will be completed around the end of July. Also, I am still short $1,000 on my donations. If you are able to help at all , please..please let me know.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Some Pictures New Blog Below

I sleep outside every night.

Alright, I've found some more time to blog! I wanted to talk about our trip to Kamwenge. We had to wake up at 5:00am so we could leave by 6. The bus rides are always terrible to me. I can't get a breath of fresh air and the roads are very dangerous. I also get car sick. Once we got out of the city it was a little better on the jungle roads but still bad. I remember all of us having to get out at least 6 times just incase the bus were to tip over. On top of that it was extremely hot. 
The further we got the more poverty I saw. Turning off a main road, we traveled down a very bumpy, huge pot holes every 5 feet-road. We even got to see some monkeys on the side of the road. When we reached the village, we had traveled 8 hours to see, it was like a miracle to them. We were told that most of these people had never seen a white person before. At first looking at these people was very awkward. Once you cracked even the slightest of smiles their faces would light up. Everyone here smiles at you. It's something I've never really had a chance to experience -not just a lot of people, everyone is happy to see you. The young children want to hold your hand (unless they were afraid and crying- thinking you are a ghost or spirit) and the adults want to introduce themselves to you. Every village we have traveled to has sang for us. In each song- "We're happy to recieve you!" You can tell that this was making their whole year, to know that someone actually cared about them. Some vilagers even said that this (today) was a new holiday for them. 
I've been living and reacting to all these circumstances lately with an outsiders view, even as I am here. I was finally awakend in the moment when a young lady walked up to me and asked me for help. She was very pretty. She told me to look at this young boy. She said that he had not walked or talked since he was born. I felt strange diagnosing someone but I wanted to check on him anyway. When I walked over to him his grandmother was holding him, she explained that his parents had both passed away from AIDs. I asked how old the boy was and they said 4 years old. Wow, for the past four years they have been worried sick about this boy not being able to take him to a doctor. I can only imagine how painful it must be to not know what is wrong with your kid. My only clue was that he had a server case of a mental illness. If you think about it, all the young babies feeding from their mothers - their mothers are already sick with some disease or illness - they are giving their young their diseases and there is nothing they can do about it. If they did not feed them they would die. One beautiful thing I've seen from these people is they come together to help those in need. Each village has so many orphans. Without even a question adults take in these children as their own. Ive learned an interesting statistic as well - "Most Africans do not know how old they are or when they were born." That is very sad to me. 
I also know that when we enter a village they are wearing their best outfit. (If they knew we were coming, which they usually do) Some look very nice and their clothes arent dirty at all. Some don't have that luxury. They are seen wearing extremely dirty clothes, ripped and hanging off their bodies. This usually exposes their wounds and cuts. It takes a lot longer for them to heal because they will always become infected. They do not even have bandages. 
I was asked today if I would live here if someone gave me a million dollars. Well- you wouldn't have to give me any money. This trip has opened my eyes. I cant even begin to explain how hard it will be to be back in the United States. Even if I explain my journey, it will be very hard for people to understand exactly what I saw.- or even care at all. Right now I am using all of my senses. For them -Looking at a picture is one. Hearing a story is one. It kind of reminds me of veterans of war. They come home changed and in need of support. When, in most cases, will be ignored or pushed aside. People just don't understand. This is a new standard for me now. How could you just live your whole life not knowing what's happening around you. Will I buy that big screen t.v. I've always wanted? Is my life the most important to me? People are suffering all around, and it doesn't matter where. We are human beings, we all need to help, love and support one another. For those who are taking the time to read this, don't go through life only asking yourself- Where will my career take me? What possessions will make me happier? Where will I be in 10 years? I guarantee you will recieve more satisfaction in your life by reaching out to those around you, even if they are 10,000 miles away. Please leave your comfort zone- dont stand still -open your mind-open your heart, and prove to yourself you can. You can make a huge different, even here... a smile can give someone hope. 
I was thinking that this whole time I needed to come here and work and help them do things. I dont need to do any of that. I just need to be here for them. That's what these people care about. They want you to touch them and embrace them. They want to feel love, it means the world to them to see that you are taking time off your life to be there. Just be there.
We should use these people as an example in our own lives. They seem richer than us and they have nothing... but eachother. 

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Saturday-Unfortunately Our Day Off

We went to the city to explore a little bit. Ate lunch at Cafe Pap. There were actually a bunch of white people there. It's common in the city to have a few Mzungu-s. After that we went to the market place. I was surprised to find that it wasn't very crowded. Every store also sold the same goods. When we were leaving we had a young man come up to us to try and sell us some post cards. After we repeatedly said no he kept trying and even almost got into our taxi. Something I heard about, that I was able to see first hand, young children begging for money. First the will put their hand out, then come up really close to the window and look all sad. If you don't give them any money they are trained to turn away and pretend to start crying. The young boy slowly turn his head to see if we had remorse. It turns out they work for someone who forces them to beg on the streets. It is very sad to see this happen in person.
Mayhem in the streets! While driving in our taxi, it began raining extremely hard. Suddenly out nowhere there was a huge traffic jam. It took us about an hour to get 1 mile. The taxi driver "Fred" said that the traffic police run to shelter when it starts raining. Very funny at the time. 

White manikins! They are everywhere. It is definitely weird to see. You would think they would have black ones (There are barely any white people here!) We need to start making some (black manikins) Come on people.

I am excited for tomorrow. We are going to the church. That is finally done! For the most part. We have to get there at 10am. -which is 2am Chicago time. (still not adjusted) We are bringing supplies and presents for all the children t
tomorrow as well. It is going to be so great! These kids have little to nothing. For a ball- they take leaves and "ball" them together. Very resourceful. The group has been talking about how these people have so little but so much. Their spirits carry them throughout the day. They are mostly always laughing or smiling- in a miserable situation. (I think). This adorable little girl that kept wanting to sit in every ones lap and was dancing to the boys playing the drums just got Malaria. Very sad as well. They may not be able to treat her. I don't know what will happen. I also met two girls that are HIV positive. Their parents had died of it as well. Someone took them in immediately. 

It's all about community here. They take care of each other. They only really have each other. Andy brought up a good point when he talked about people in America. They are mostly in tune with -"What's my career going to be?-How much money will I make?-What will I buy myself when I am rich?" Uganda is purely communal. It is a very beautiful thing to see happen. It has definitely changed my perspective on things. I'm glad this has happened to me. Lee is going to move here in a little while. Most of us say-"These people are richer out here." They live fulfilling lives consisting of family, religion, and community.

"Money is the root of all evil."


"Humans are the root of all evil."

Here are some more pictures...

Friday, June 6, 2008

Day 2 and 3

We have traveled about 2 hours to a very poor village. Global Family Rescue has been doing great things for this community. Our job was to help complete their church that has not been finished in many years. It lacked a roof. Keeping in mind, religion and community is everything to these people- in some cases- it's all they have. They did not have enough money for the supplies.

When we arrived we had the most intense welcoming. I never saw it coming. Walking up the road to the church we saw a great number of villagers walking towards us dancing and singing as loud as they could. They even made a sign for us. It was kind of overwhelming. The circled us and gave us hugs and cried. They were so thankful that someone actually was there to help them.

"Body Touch." This is the way the people of Uganda show love for one another. Little kids would run up to me and grab my hands. They were so intrigued by the color of my skin. Chances are they have never seen a white person in their entire lives. Something funny that continually happened was when any of our group would get near a small baby it would start crying. They thought we were spirits coming to take them away. It was a very touching experience. I grabbed my video camera and started filming. I flipped the LCD screen around so they could see themselves. (Nearly all of them had never looked at their own faces before) So, their faces lite up like nothing else. They all seemed very happy.
So, I'm not so good with heights but i volunteered to work on the roof of the church. I don't know why! Remember- the roof is made from wood they find-cut themselves from trees-or buy. When I climbed up to the supporting structure for the shingles I was easily 15 feet off the ground. It was nerve racking. Andy was the only other person to climb up too. I don't remember their names too well but, these two guys were trying to explain to me what to do. I'm happy to say that I was able to help finish the roof of the church but we still had to build the pastor's house. This would come in Day 3.I am really exhausted when I write these and it's sometimes hard to remember everything. OH! The time destroys the average human being. If you live in Chicago take the time and ADD 8 hours. That's what time it is here. Good. ;) More pictures to come!

P.S. I still need to raise 1,500. I'm asking for your help. If you have already donated I am so deeply thankful. Email

Making Up For Missed Posts

I have to start from 3 days ago because I haven't been able to do this. Landing in Entebbe was absolutely incredible. It actually felt like a whole new world. Seemingly very secluded, the airport was very well maintained. There wasn't a gate to the plane either just a staircase. After months of stress and planning, I finally stepped foot on something I have been thousands of miles away from. Africa. Truly magical. It was a special moment for me and I could only imagine what lay ahead.

There were two distinct smells. My original thoughts were of crisp, fresh air and the smell of the earth. But, while breathing deeply I noticed this was not the case. Exhaust, dirt, and sweat were a very overwhelming stimulus. Uganda does not have the same laws as us, obviously. There is no standard on emissions. Black smoke pours from even the nicest of cars. There are also hundreds of motorcycle taxis here.

Before we could really unpack we left to help work on a home for a widow of 17 children. Initially, I was nervous to see how bad the situation was, these people never cease to amaze me. I don't think words could even describe how our group felt getting there. The widow has nothing but a small plot of land. The water they drink comes from about a mile away. A few of us and some of the children walked there to get some for the concrete foundations. Their water was dirty and filled with bacteria and most likely diseases. You couldn't pay me to drink this water. I would, for certain, need to be hospitalized. The buckets we also carried were easily 50 pounds. If you can imagine, a and bones, probably about 4 or 5 years old, carrying this thing almost a mile through unforgiving land. They walk barefoot as well.

So we celebrated with them and danced. There is a video on youtube. If you would like to watch. ********I'll add the link when I get a chance**************

The widows house was very small and was simply brick and concrete. They fabricate all the tools themselves as well, it was tough getting used to. We probably had a line of 30 people handing bricks to each other. I want to keep this short so I can write about the other days. Watch the video.