Someone asked me today if it gets easier each time I go to Uganda. The question caught me off guard, and I had to really think about how to respond. In fact, I’m still thinking about my response. The short answer is “no, it does not get easier.” I’m still incredibly burdened by the injustices seen. I’m angry at how women are mistreated, how poverty breeds sickness and neglect, how children are suffering silently, and how a lack of resources forces people to turn to acts of desperation.
During this particular trip I was faced with new challenges, including that the National Drug Authority (NDA) confiscated most of our medication, lied about the process of retrieving the medication, and caused many other frustrating and costly implications. There were moments where I questioned why we were there and whether it was worth it.
For the past fifteen years, I’ve poured my heart and soul into this country as I’ve shared stories, rallied supporters and teams, and continued to return to the place that captured my heart. Yet, in moments of resistance I wondered if we were welcomed. While I longed for access our legal system to try to right this injustice, a Yelp review to shout how terribly we were treated, or some other Western way to “fix” this, I found myself having to sit and accept the brokenness of the city and honestly the world around me. It was in that moment that I learned an incredible, possibly the most incredible, lesson. I realized that even if we are stripped from all tools to help (medically, practically) we still have value. It truly is not as much about medication as it is about our hearts to serve. It’s less about righting the injustices of the legal system and more about empathizing with those living under the law. As I left the NDA and arrived at the Babies Home, empty-handed, I realized that it’s not just about feeding hungry mouths or providing medication (although that is still incredibly important) to every single child. Holding and caring for them, in ways that any one of us can, truly makes the greatest difference.
As I look back, I’m thankful for how perfectly orchestrated our team was, down to our very littlest members. Every single person operated in their own unique gifts — some teaching or providing medical care, others counseling, chasing kids, becoming human playground equipment, or dancing and singing, and some crying with or rocking little ones. There’s an African proverb that states, “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” We arrived as a team of 16 mostly strangers, joined together by one common purpose: we were passionate about educating, loving and serving the people of Uganda. The result was powerfully impactful — both for those served and for each member on the team. We did move at a fast (actually, insanely fast) pace, but without each other the impact would have remained on a surface level. What we accomplished together is deep, long lasting, and truly life changing.
Thank you to each one of you for the ways you changed my life. I will forever cherish you and our time together. — Talitha