22.11.2008 - 04.12.2008
"I had a farm in Africa" is the first line of Out of Africa -- and that echoes at me every time I think about this project that I've ended up involved in, purely by collision of circumstance. "Why are you going to Uganda?" "Oh, we have this orphanage in Kasese."
It's a twisty and tormented story, which I'll try to fill in in installments. But to start, these facts are important: I live in Toronto, and have a hummingbird-busy life as a consultant and quasi-academic. I'm not in international development, and I'm not particularly drawn to children's charities. I have no kids. (Even the puppy-cams that make everyone else oooo leave me cold). But, a couple of years ago, through various accidental manoeuvres, my business associate got connected with this home for 50 orphaned and vulnerable children in western Uganda, and without thinking about why, exactly, I joined in. Over the past two years, three of us, more or less, have managed and raised funds to fully support the project. And next week, I'm going to Africa for the first time.
Right now, there's a lot of unsettlement in the DRC, and the orphanage is in a town pretty close to the border. So the decision about whether or not to go was a lot of hot potato tossing. I continued with my vaccines, gear-buying, etc., uncertain about where it was going. But when the flakes settled, three of us are going: one of the core group of three (C) and her brother.
Now that I'm in the flurry of hotel reservations, money changing, finalizing the Dukoral (oral cholera vaccine) and all of the rest of the last-minute stuff (not to mention two huge projects I need to make progress on before I go), I haven't sat down to really articulate why I'm doing this. The best I can come up with is that this is the me I want to live into -- a person pushed along by the tang of adventure, committed to following through with the story I imagined. I'm a little sardonic about the notion of "life-changing experience," but I do have a lot of trepidation about how I might absorb the most outside-my-ken culture that I've ever encountered. So now that I'm letting the reality soften over me... it's daunting and chewy and complicated, all at once. Like stuffing way too big a bit of dragon roll in your mouth, and waiting for each flavour to settle.
More background and more hopes tomorrow.