She stood in the hospital ward leaning her head against the narrow space between two doors. Her black hair was braided in neat rows that wrapped around the back. Bent with exhaustion, she did not seem to notice us passing or to be aware of the small crowd of patients camped on blankets in the corridor. Her posture said that she had been waiting for a very long time. Maybe no longer than others scattered around the hospital and camped outside on the grass, but with a heaviness that verged on crashing through to the floors below. Her dogged vigil spoke of a mother’s love for a child she could no longer protect, unable to console, bereft of remedies, offering her solitary gift of presence. In this chaotic, somewhat scrubbed ward filled with strangers, at least she had a place to stand.
The visit to the grand Mosque gave us our first perspective on this city and how it fits together. Our tour guide, Mohammed, deliberately explained Amin’s goal of creating a gathering space for Muslims on par with their presence in Ugandan society. The project, initiated by Amin during his eight year rule, sat unfinished for years Continue Reading
The conversations after day one ranged far and wide with a group of students gathered in the living room late into the night. We had the shared experience of our visit to Katanga slums and the apparent fascination of the children there with our troupe of Mzungus traipsing through their neighborhood–upwards of 9,000 people in an area of about six city blocks, trenches flowing with shit and garbage. What is given and taken in this bizarre interaction between people so far removed from each other in background and possibilities? Can we even see through the other’s eyes or is it too far a stretch? Little ones reached for our hands and walked with us on our little tour, with a familiarity that felt sweet but unjustified. We wondered how sad it would be for them to release our hands at the end and let our worlds fly back to their own orbits. Of course that was our mistake. They had no illusion of us being more than a passing fancy.