A few days ago I met Dorothy, an English teacher at a local primary school and activist for a non-profit organization called Children Ministry Charity. Her charity supports underprivileged children (0-18 yrs old) by sponsoring for their education and other basic needs. Yesterday she took me to the school where she teaches and introduced me to some of the children. I met about 15 of them. I was told most of the children there were either victims of child abuse or orphans. On the wall of the school main hall was displayed a group picture of them when they were about 5-6 years old, now they’re in their teens. As Dorothy was looking at the picture and explaining to me who was who on it, I could really tell she was proud of those kids. She had “that look”, you know, the one that says, “WOW, you’ve come a long way, I am so proud of you” hahaha.
Anyway, after school was out, Dorothy invited me to her home to meet her family and to have dinner with them. I honorably accepted the invitation. When we got to her house, I was kindly welcomed by an older man who I later learned was her dad and he’s in his early-90s. There were also GodFred (19 y.o), Sam (23 y.o), Carol (17 y.o), and Anna (16 y.o). I knew Dorothy was in her late 40s, had never been married, and had no family around Kampala, so I was wondering who all those people in here house were. It turned out 10 years ago she decided to adopt some of the children from her organization so she chose three children who she thought were most vulnerable and those were Godfred, Anna, and Carol. Sam is her younger brother.
As we were walking into the house, Dorothy shouted, “everybody meet my friend Jeanne, she comes from America!”…… “oh this is Jeanne?” Anna asked and then she said, “she’s not a MUZUNGU!”. Muzungu means, “WHITE”. I guess when Dorothy called her family earlier and told them that she was bringing a friend from “America” home, they automatically assumed that I was white. I couldn’t really tell whether the color of my skin was a good or bad thing, and I honesty wasn’t too worried about it. I was to busy being happy that I was actually visiting a Ugandan family in their home for the first time. I had been looking forward to this opportunity since I got into the country. What I was even happier about what the fact that I was going to eat a home-cooked meal for the first time in 11 days… It is amazing how fast a person’s values changes depending on the location they’re in. As much as I love eating out, I never thought I’d miss home-cooked foods.
Dorothy’s family was very kind and welcoming, except for her dad. He was very quiet. After welcoming us, he sat down on the couch and did not say a word. I went up to him and almost shook his hand and then I remembered that in some countries a woman or younger person shaking hands with an older man is culturally inappropriate; so I asked Dorothy how younger people greet older people in the “Baganda” Culture. Baganda is what Ugandans are called in their local language, which is Luganda. Anyway, sure enough Dorothy told me that they usually position themselves lower than the person they’re greeting. She said since her dad was seated, most people would kneel down and extent their right hand to him and so I did.
I noticed he was using a cane to support his left side of the body. I tried to make small talks with him but he would just stared at me, so I stopped talking. Dorothy noticed the awkward silence and immediately informed me that her dad’s communication has been impaired since he had a stroke in 1996, which left him paraplegic. She said when he stares like that, he’s usually listening but he just can’t respond to what is being said. I have to say though, for someone who is in his 90s and physically impaired, Dorothy’s father looked better than most younger and healthier people I know.
I was at Dorothy’s house for about 4 hrs (4-7pm). During that time, we ate, drank, and talked…well, I was the one doing most of the talking. I felt like I was being interrogated the whole time I was there. Dorothy and her kids asked a million questions, and I probably answered 99% of them. They wanted to know everything about the U.S. Their questions involved everything from education to politics to the western social life, and even things from Hollywood. Most of the questions they asked me were about things they’ve seen in movies and on the news and reality shows. Most people here have satellite TV, so they get most of the European and American channels. They have seen things on TV and wanted to confirm whether or not those things were true. I answered their questions to the best of my knowledge. The nonsense I learn from reality TV and entertainment news and the two classes I have taken in the Department of Political Science paid offJ.
The most interesting question I was asked, which I found to be funny, was “why is it that President Obama doesn’t visit his father’s village in Kenya more Often?” LOL. Well, that is a personal question and since I don’t know Obama to a personal level, the answer was “I DON’T KNOW!!!” I could tell they were not satisfied with my answer, so I made a joke saying that if I ever meet Pres. Obama in person I would ask him that question, better yet, I will write him a letter when I get back home. I don’t think they got the joke because I was the only one laughing at it. LOL. ANYWAY, I had a good day.
Until next time!!!