Leaving Kenya and flying to Uganda was the biggest thing on our agenda for this day. I have to admit that it was tough leaving my new friends in Kenya. Because of the great distance, I knew that it wasn’t likely that I’d see most (if any) of them again. Yet, their impact on my life is etched on my heart BIG TIME.
But we were on a mission, and our next objective was the work in Uganda.
I had heard from others on our team about how different Uganda was going to be. They talked about how friendly the Ugandan people are, but I really had a hard time grasping what they meant by that. I mean, how different could they be?
Meeting us at the airport in Kampala were two people that I’ll never forget… Reverend Jonathan and our driver Chintu (pronounced kin-too). Not only was Chintu our driver, but he was the owner of the transport company that he represented. What I thought was really cool about him is that he was also someone who had benefited from the same microfinance work that we were there to support!
At first they both seemed friendly enough, but I still didn’t see the BIG difference. That is until we made our way into downtown Kampala.
When I was in Kenya I had seen extreme poverty, but driving through Kampala allowed me to see it in mass proportions. As we drove deeper into the heart of the city, I saw lots of people who obviously had very little. I saw (lots of) trash on the streets. I saw kids without shoes.
I saw the face of extreme poverty.
Then all of the sudden we heard a rattling noise under the van. The rattling quickly turned into metal dragging on asphalt. So Chintu quickly pulled into an alley to inspect the vehicle. As soon as he stopped, there were no less than five men from the street who surrounded the van and started looking underneath with Chintu.
As it turned out a bracket broke and the spare tire had come loose underneath the van, causing it to drag on the ground. So these street men helped remove the hanging spare. Then out of concern for our time, Chintu left the spare time with them men on the street so that he could get us to our lodging destination. He informed us that these men would hold the spare tire for him until he returned later to pick it up when he had time to fix it.
I wondered how often things like this happen back in the States. Typically when someone is broken down on the side of the road, most people (including myself) simply drive by and avoid helping the one in need. But our van was practically mobbed by people coming to help.
Then I started to understand what my teammates meant when they told me that the Ugandan people were some of the most friendly that they’ve ever encountered.
They had so little but yet gave so much of themselves to another in need. I remember thinking that I was really going to like Uganda.
Check out more from this series in the africa diaries.