What an incredible setting, Uganda is a country seemingly and sporadically placed within a once-forest. A goat cries in the distance beyond the gate. A solemn reminder that I ate goat upon my arrival here. Arrival. Ramshackle homes and businesses line unpaved roads. Making our way to the compound I stare out the window into a sea of the unfamiliar. Buildings painted with advertisements of Higgies Diapers where Huggies are not sold, roaming animals and the western image of impoverished living were all things left unspoken in meetings and left for us to ponder. What an extraordinary experience it was to arrive. Exhaustion’s grip only tightened as I drew closer. With every hour the need to stay awake and alert while traversing three counties, among strangers and through the unfamiliar proved harder. The incredible thing is that arriving is the easy part. No one tells you that it is going to take a lot of time and careful planning. No one holds your hand. Nothing is for certain. No one tells you that a few days before departure the anticipation builds. Sleep became sporadic, a constant need to work out and eat well fell over me as I attempted to bring a sense of normalcy to my life. In the whirlwind that was a ‘year in the making of an epic journey’ I was also a full time student in college, working part time, president of a service organization and maintaining sorority commitments all with an attempt to work out and maintain a social life. The last two were infrequent at best. In all this chaos I never stopped to think or clearly respond to those on the outside asking all the right questions. The only thing that kept me from the gravity of what I was about to experience for a month was simply that – gravity. In the clouds physically and mentally the only thing I knew to be certain was that I had done it. Never let someone make you feel like you cannot accomplish something because it is too big for them to conceive. Try. Give it your all and roll with the punches while pursuing your dreams. They absolutely can come true.
Content and photograph by Alex Rager