It’s barely 10am and its already what we would refer to back home as “hot as he**”, even as we try to pump some AC through the van. Headed to Murchison Falls from Ziwa Rhino Preserve are the 5 of us, plus our driver Richard, sitting pretty comfortably between boxes of bottled water. We ride out the 200km on a road that would make any country dirt path back home feel smooth and newly paved. There was heavy rainfall in the morning (shocker) and as a result the red dirt road is seriously bumpy (autocorrect is my best friend right now).
Anyways, as we drive on our Global Health MSU 8-seat jeep, we pass hundreds of Ugandans walking the road, thankfully the simple majority with footwear, seemingly oblivious to the relentless sun beating down on them. Most of them are carrying something, including the very young boys the girls, including sugarcane sticks, empty water tanks, bundles of clothes, you name it and people are carrying it on their backs or boda bodas (the infamous motorbikes of Uganda). One girl, walking alone and carrying large tanks of water, looks to be about 5 years old and is dressed in a very battered white dress. We pass by a group of 40 prisoners, who are all handcuffed to each other, being led by policemen in uniform to the sentencing court. I can’t capture in words how many people we see walking, some of them barefoot, with large heavy items. I have to emphasize the heat and the red sand. At home, if I were to go for an hour run in weather like this I would have a reward of ice cold lemonade or fresh lime water waiting. Here, this is simply another day, another morning, another hour in Uganda.
How irrelevant Snapchat stories and Instagram likes sound right now…how fortunate it feels to be the one inside the caravan. Why we are born into fortunate circumstances, and others not so lucky, is a question for the philosophers and priests. Of course, I am being a spoiled American by labeling these conditions as unfortunate; many people laugh, smile, and even offer a wave as we drive by. Regardless, tonight I will not take my life for granted and instead fall asleep saying my prayers.