It is a tricky thing, being a foreigner in these parts;  tricky for the mind. We all perceive each other in such different ways and what I have come to learn and realize, even in my short time here, is how happy people are despite what they do not have. When I was walking around the school on the island facing Bushara I was conflicted. One part of me wanted to rush back to Canada, raise funds and return with computers, decent desks and tons of books. Then I stopped and realized that aid is a very complicated thing. Yes, the school was poorly funded and pupils were writing exams on the seats of chairs; certainly the library was small and insignificantly stocked; but the kids were laughing, smiling, happy and taking their studies very seriously. On the whole they were very happy to talk to me and let me snap photos, only two girls refused and asked for money and those two will probably end up running a municipality in Uganda.
Running in with arms laden with supplies is not the answer. Who would ever help themselves if people are always there to run in and save the day? This school was better than most, there were plenty of notebooks and pens, something that many schools lack, yet coming from my high tech school complete with smart board and IT lab, I did wish they had access to computers. Perhaps a better answer is to enable and inspire students to find the tools to empower themselves. They can work for what they need, figure out whom to ask, learn how to raise the funds and purchase their own laptops.
Like I said, it is a tricky one. I did wonder, after meeting so many happy people, if perhaps we are the ones who have it the wrong way round. Rather than rush in and tell them what they need, it might be those that live with less who will the last ones standing when the earth implodes under the weight of tossed ipods, computers and appliances.
One area that does need some kind of assistance is in the realm of opportunity. I met one young man who anxiously wants to go to University. Unless he is either very wealthy or comes top of his class, his chances are slim.

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Filed under observations, Uganda

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