After my quick spanish experience, lasted for less than a month, where i worked as a volunteer in a hostel, I had the time to reflect and get out from the suffocating Milano mood. I could take a paper and a pen in order to make a list of the future destinations of my gap year.
The idea was to keep on following the reason why I left Italy for South America seven months ago: to volunteer in organizations and foundations in underdeveloped countries.
My first step would have been Uganda, a little country in the center of Africa, where I would have stopped for a month. As before every experience I didn’t have a clear idea of what I was supposed to be doing at my arrival there, I just knew two things: that the organization was called “Gayela children foundation” and that was twenty km far from the second biggest city in Uganda, Jinja.
The 12 of February, after two flights, I arrived with my 8 kilos backpack at Entebbe, the capital city airport.
After having met the head of the project, Ema, we headed to Bujagali, the headquarter of the foundation. Even if there were just 100 km between the airport and this little town, for an error of the driver who brought us in the middle of a market of Kampala (the capital city and third city with most traffic in the world), after more than seven hours we arrived.
I was finally arrived in Africa: long unpaved roads with an astonished traffic and really long wooden house built along the streets were waiting for me. Even If I was overwhelmed by this view and by the conditions the people were living, this time, differently from when I arrived in Peru’, I was ready and I did not suffered from the solo traveler syndrome.
After a so long day I arrived at the headquarter of the project were I met the children: eighteen babies from 3 to 12 years old who , when they saw me, they suddenly hugged me and presented themselves to me. I was so happy after a so good welcome that I would have never imagined what the unpredictable future would have had for me and the other two volunteers.
I arrived in the worst period ever because of a familiar quarrel that was going on since the first day I arrived, between the head of the foundation and his mother il law (the owner of the place where there was the association). This fight lasted for more than a week between threat and insults. We, the volunteers, were put in the middle of this fight and used as a matter of fight, not considered as people who came to help but just as persons who brought money. Because of this, since the first day, we began to put in discussion the matter of this project and the worth of staying there. We did not come to stay there without doing nothing because of the lack of activities (due to the boost of the conflict).
In the first days I got to know the children and the little community of Bujagali, set near the Nile river. There, the people called me MUZUNGU (the white man) with diffidence. For another time I remembered how the children are different from the adult, for them we are the same independently from the color of the skin or for the etny. Even if you are tall or short, black or white for them is the same, because for them you will be a friend.
Since the beginning, when we went to school or to church (I took part to the mass in the local language, Lusoga) the children were running to take my hand or to be hugged. When we walked near some houses we were welcomed by some children, who did not know us, who cheered us laughing.
The morning, when we did not take part to reunions because of the fight, we brought them to school or ,during the weekend, we did some sport activities.
During the afternoon, after having lunched with the traditional matoque and posho, we helped them to do their homework and we went walking with two dogs: Robert and Gaddafi.
Since the first days I was amazed by this new culture so true and far from mine and also by the customs. Till the young age were taught to the children the respect, each time they met an adult they knelt in front of them, and also the hard work, to wash their clothes by hand, to clean their rooms and to cut vegetables. During the lunch and dinner, they sat in the ground and ate with hands.
I was sleeping with the other volunteers and some children of the foundation in a traditional African house: without running water, the water we had comes from rain and was stored in tanks, but with energy, even if It did not work all day long. The bathrooms were outside and built in the soil while for the shower we had to go to a nearby camping.
The door of the camping was a border between two different worlds: one made of tranquility and relax (the MUZUNGU’S one) while the other made of lack.
This had been an experience, that even if was completely unexpected (but was there one expected?!), in few days had allowed me to get in touch with a new culture and let me understood that it’s possible to live with nothing but, at the same time, be happy.
Sadly, three weeks before the planned time and leaving the unbelievable foundation children, I had to packed everything and moved to south searching, this time, a place where I could really be useful.