The drive from Kampala to Gulu was a wonderful opportunity for me to see Uganda. Because I get car sick, I was fortunate enough to sit in the front seat with our driver, Opiero, while the others sat in the backseat. The trade-off, however, was that the danger of riding down the bumpy, very narrow dirt roads was right before my eyes. Mine was certainly the scariest spot in the car. Some roads were so damaged that there was only one driveable lane- this made for many frightening games of chicken.
One of the more astonishing things I noticed were the children walking down the sides of the road. They were unaccompanied, dangerously close to a road where people were driving 100-120 kilometers per hour. I saw children as young as five, possibly four. My first instinct was to be outraged and angry that these children were allowed to do this. What if they stepped five feet further into the road? Parents in the US would be arrested for letting their children do this!
I then stopped and reminded myself that I am no longer in the US. What works for us there does not necessarily work for the people here. This is how the children go to school, get food and water, and play. They have been doing it since they could walk- this is life. Who am I to judge what works for these people? I just got here- they live here.
And so began the mantra of my trip- Don’t Be A Judge. I am being warmly welcomed into a community of people who live their lives the best way they know how to. I am a guest in Gulu and I shall behave like one. It is much like one of the beliefs of Social Promise that I am so fond of- We support well established institutions already doing great things in their own communities. It is not our desire to sweep in and make changes, we choose to support the good work already being done.