Among the Leaves

Along an unbeaten path, tucked far away from the rigors of life lies our adolescent headquarters. Nights spent under the stars of contemplation, days spent blissfully away from our troubles; nothing has changed from our youth. No longer in high school, yet compelled to return, the tree house contains some of my fondest memories. I may no longer recall the worries of adolescence, but will never forget the significance of hours spent among the leaves, nor the people with whom those days were never wasted. Friends turned into family as laughter, antics and music danced around the branches, taking our cares to distant places. We found solace on our island in the sky. The tree house would never judge, there are no rules, no dishes to clean, no homework due, no topic disallowed. Remnants of the memories we share leave their unique marks in the crevices, along the walls and tied in the branches of a child’s paradise. Alone we go back to our lives in college but together we always return, as the tree house is not meant to facilitate solitude, but always community. Gathered together after what feels like years apart, we climb up just to lose ourselves to the powers of our magic tree house.

Content and Photograph by Alexandrea Rager

Incredible Uganda: Day 17

Soapy water and a plastic cut-out make for a great ice breaker. Today was a day like no other as we were given a rare opportunity to experience Wakiso and the residents who make the area so amazing. It all started by meeting James, a grandfather who lives with his wife and grandchildren near the school. We were invited into his yard where we swapped stories of our lives and homes. James and his wife are the sweetest couple who pour love and energy into their family and community. We sat for hours in the yard learning about farming, meeting the family, coloring with his granddaughters and getting a grand tour of his home. From there, we ventured off along the back roads that beckoned us. Stopping to speak to every beautiful woman, man and child we encountered soon lead us to another school where children were hanging out.  We asked them to join us on our adventure to nowhere in particular. Soon we were all laughing, playing football, blowing bubbles and enjoying what was arguably the most perfect Saturday. Eventually we all wondered into their friends where the initial introductions were hesitant until we broke out the bubbles. Before we knew it we added another five kids to our football game and bubble lessons! It was such an incredible way to engage with the kids and greater Wakiso district through the sharing of cultural experiences. I had never really played football, so to learn from kids who love the sport was truly a special experience; so too was the opportunity to share with them the joy of bubbles from my youth. Once dusk was upon us we ventured back to the school where familiar faces and adorable giggles rang out as more volunteers arrived through the gates. Making connections and experiencing the joys of life in the most authentic way is what this beautiful existence is for. You don’t need to travel halfway around the world to spread good vibes. All it takes is a little love, understanding and arms open wide for the people you experience life with and among every day.

 

Content by Alexandrea Rager

Photograph by Meredith Steward