This afternoon Ben, the local driver for Shanti Uganda picked me up at 5:00pm and took me on a tour of Kasana Town. It is a very small town. I was show the football field, local hospital, the town’s hotel, the Anglican Church, the Catholic Church, the Muslim Boarding School (although Uganda is mostly Christian), the city works plant, and then he took me to his banana plantation. We got out of the car and walk around. It is about ½ of an acre and he grows coffee trees between the banana trees because they provide shade for the roots of the banana trees and help to keep the moister in the ground. He also had a Mango tree, Avocado tree, a guava tree and pumpkins growing on the land. He then showed me his house and I got to meet his two girls ages 11 and 7. He returned to the volunteer house with me and we shared a glass of wine and visited with Margot until dusk and then he headed home via foot leaving his 4-wheel here Mitsubishi, I am assuming for safe keeping. In Luwero everyone is where they are going to stay by dark for their own safe keeping. If I should attend a birth in the evening at the birth center I must spend the night there and I cannot go to the birth center at night from the volunteer house. This is a rule of Shanti Uganda’s but it is also the way the town’s people live as well.
(You will notice quite a difference in the photo above and the ones below as they were taken with different cameras. The above of Ben and his two daughters was taken with a Nikon point and shoot and the one below of the neighbor’s children with my Nikon D3000 camera. Shelton, you will be happy to know that I am going to stick with the Nikon D3000 from now on.)
I have not seen another white person in this town other than Sadie, Margot and a woman named Sara that is here with the Peace Corp. I am treated so nicely that I do not even notice that my skin color stands out so visibly. The children are fascinated by white people and use the term “Mzungu” when they see you. They call out “Mzungu” and then wave. They are thrilled if you wave back at them and often they will say hello or goodbye. There are children everywhere so you cannot walk more than a few steps before you hear the word “Mzungu” called out once again. And they do it day after day, time and time again, no matter how many times you have walked by their home. I will often stop and shake their hands and tell them my name, but my name is always replaced the following time with “Mzungu”. I kind of equate this process to the one we had as children where while riding in the car if you were so lucky as to pass a truck you would make a gesture to get the driver of the truck to beep his horn. I must admit, it does make you feel like someone important but I can see that those whites that are used to it get to a point where they do not respond to the children’s calls. I plan to respond every time as there is nothing more heartwarming to me than having a young Ugandan child, (some who have not even begun to walk) with his/her rich black skin and beautiful white teeth wave and smile at you. I am sure they have no idea how much joy it brings me.
On Saturday I was bringing in laundry off the line and I kept on hearing “Mzungu” again and again from the other side of the fence. I guessed that the young children knew that Mzungus lived next door. As I head in the house I heard it again but heard it from above me. I looked up in the neighbor’s avocado tree and saw these two boys looking down at me. It was definitely a “Kodak” moment so I asked them if I could take a photo and they nodded yes. I got my camera and then tried to show them the photo, but remember they are on the other side of a tall wall up in a tree. I told them to wait and I took the SD card out of my camera and showed them as I put it in my laptop and then pulled the photo up to show them. They loved it! I was working around the house and I would hear “Mzungu, Mzungu” and go outside to find another new face in the tree. This carried on until all of them had seen their face on the computer screen.