Wow, the fundraising is done. I'm calling it. I'm tapped out, and I'm sure I've sucked every penny I could from every one of my friends! The total amount I raised was $6230, and holy cow! It's been a shock that a cool $5k wouldn't cover my trip, and worrying that I wouldn't have time to raise it, then shock at the generosity of the people in my life, then navigating trying to come back into my life after cancer while juggling all of this and the other responsibilities I have- what a crazy summer!
I'm starting now to count down the days before I go. Some days I feel very peaceful and relaxed about it. I'm reading The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Never Forgets which is a really well written, compelling history of Uganda written as the setting for a murder mystery (a real life one). I feel a deeper connection to this country and I haven't stepped foot there yet. I am looking forward to being there and touching the ground, to feeling the lingering Spirits, to listen and be touched by the people who live there.
My virgin thoughts are that we have this really interesting attitude here in the West about Africa, that it's just this never ending soup of conflict, genocide, disease and starvation. If the people arent' killing each other, the mosquitos will get them. If the diseases aren't coming out of the bush to take people, they're starving to death. It seems so hopeless, and so simple, and it seems like throwing our old stuff on shipments, and our money at NGOs is the only way to really make a difference.
I feel really responsible to understand the story of this country, at least better than "it's in Africa." I want to be able to speak accurately about my experience, and shift the American lens from my eyes as much as I can. I want my heart open, and so I read the books suggested to me by people on the ground, and I imagine myself as a woman in a country where a military might set up a coup, where gunfire could break out in my neighborhood, where my husband could be taken away in the night and I can't even speak it out loud without risking harm on myself and my children, much less inquire about where he went, how he died, where he's buried. I can't imagine it. I look at my boys, who could be kidnapped and forced to kill their friends, their friends parents, or their own parents, if we weren't so lucky to be born in a country that is safe.
I wonder what it feels like to stand on the cradle of Humanity, the great equalizer, the womb of our species. What does it feel like? I remember when I was in Europe and going anywhere was a heady experience, a constant barrage of spiritual energy and deep, old stories in the trees, in the land, and in the stone walls. It could grow oppressive at times. What will it feel like, flying over the land of extremes? Stepping off the plane, and smelling the smell of Uganda? I can't wait to find out!