First and second day in Lira

by KareMeKuc co-founder Max Clary

Hello! I am sorry I have not been in touch for a few days. I have been blissfully busy. I will give you a quick recap of my first full day in Lira (Friday June 3rd) and yesterday Saturday June 4th Please forgive me if my wording is strange it has been a long day traveling to villages in bush that are only accessible by motorcycle or biking or walking and I am very tired but I will push past the fatigue to get this post out.

June 3rd: This day was my first full day in Lira. I woke up early because the hot sun rose bright and early to shine through the window and on my face. Pretty much as soon as the light filtered through my window the village was alive with farm animals especially roosters making their noise, women and children chatting as they walked with all their jerry cans to get water, and the men starting up their motorcycles in hope to get some business as a boda boda. So I got up and read for a while and then meditated for half an hour and Nellie was still not awake so I decided to go for a walk. On my walk I was being friendly and I met a few nice people as we all laughed together at me when I tried to tell them “good morning” in Lango. It is pronounced (I think) eh-boo-rah bae. Anyways, I ended up meeting a very nice man named “o-tim” who looked maybe 17 but turned out to be 28. It is interesting here, many of these people look very young and they say they are much older than they look. I think it may be in part due to malnourishment and also them not knowing their exact age because birth certificates are not common especially when the country was in war. Anyways, O-Tim insisted of giving me a ride somewhere so I told him to bring me to this public field where people hang out. There I started hacky sacking and at first people just watched me and laughed and then a guy came over named Isaac who ended up becoming a good friend of mine. He watched me intently for a while and soon a whole crowd of people were standing around watching and playing with me. I let them play and Isaac and I went and talked for a while and we shared about how lives and how we were both orphans and it seemed like he had been waiting for someone to talk deeply with as I told him about my meditation and mindfulness practice and how peace of mind has become a big coping skill in my life. So I promised him I would get his number when I had a phone and I shall see him again. He said he was very excited to talk again and it made me feel good to be around people that could relate in some ways to the loneness that can from losing your parents. After Isaac and I chatted I went back to the group of guys playing and I had told them if any of them got good I would give them the hacky sack. Sure enough, a guy named Andrew had already started kicking ass. Him and I played together for a while and also became friends. However, it was more superficial than Isaac but he seemed excited to have partner to hacky sack with. So, I promised I would give him my number when I got a phone and I gave him the hacky sack and went back to the now woken up Nellie. Pretty much the rest of the day was spent doing some yoga, more meditation and going to the market which was not very fun. I kind of hated going to the market, I felt dirty when money got involved because so many people need the money but there is no way I can help everyone and overpay huge amounts so I just end up feeling bad and sorry that I can’t use my privilege to help them all. That was pretty much that day. I passed out exhausted in my bed that night and slept well.

June 4th: I am writing this on the day of june 4th but I will be posting this on june 5th so I am just going to say “today” meaning June 4th. Today I woke up again at the crack of dawn to the rooster and the sun. However, based on how exhausted I was yesterday I wanted some more sleep so I finally fell back asleep and woke up around 9. Nellie and I then introduced ourselves to some college kids from University of Wisconsin that arrived the night before and have been fund raising to help Jane Ekayu teach bee keeping vocational skills to former child soldiers and child headed households. They seem like nice people. Don’t have a whole lot to say about them at this point. Hahaha except how American our conversation seemed, it was pretty much the typical superficial bragging contest how who is pre-med and going to what medical school and has traveled where and helped who.  However, I think this conversation was good for me because I mostly remained silent. I have long been frustrated with myself acting on the feeling I have to talk about my accomplishments to prove I am someone worthwhile.  So I am not sure if they think much of me but that is okay because I think a lot of me. Anyways, after we chatted with them, Nellie and I headed to the Children of Peace Uganda’s (CPU for short) office and met up with two members of Jane’s staff Doreen and Geoffery. Nellie got on Geoffery’s motorcycle and I got on Doreen’s (don’t worry I wore a helmet) and we each drove about an hour into the bush to these tiny way off the map villages where CPU holds peace clubs every Saturday for children affected by the war. There I played hacky sack with those kids which also turned out to be a great success and was a great way to make friends and break the ice. I left them another hacky sack. Then we all played some dancing games and much to my surprise I actually kept rhythm (for those of you who do not know, my rhythm is bad that is almost a talent how I normally cant keep a beat to save my life). We then played duck duck goose and I have never seen people run so fast barefoot it was unreal. Maybe they can all just make a livelihood being Usane Bolt impersonators. After the games Doreen gave a speech to the children about motivation and where hard work can get you whether in selling goods or farming or school or happiness and to never give up. She gave the speech in Lango so I couldn’t interpret all of it but that is the jest. Then Doreen did some one on one check-ins as some of the children shared their stories with me. It will take a while for them to get comfortable with me. I heard stories of their families being killed and them having to sleep in the bush but I could tell based on the smiles and cutting the story short they were nervous. Which, how could you not be afraid of judgement of someone you just met? So as I sensed their fear and also the inspiration in what they did share. I asked if it was okay that I share my story. And I told them a brief version of what I had been through and once again I think the power of vulnerability broke down many walls and allowed me to be on the same or similar plane as them. This gathering seemed to be a great way to uplift these kids. Many of them come from villages all around and it is a time they can share and see and play with friends. So after about 4 hours of hanging out there Doreen and I left to go to another village even further out in the bush. This peace club was new so we mainly just hung out with the villagers and told them about what the peace club is and to tell everyone they know about it and that we will be there every Saturday at 2:00 PM. Hahahaha this village rarely rarely seeing Monos (white people) so they were all just amazed and touching my hair and skin and starring and smiling at me. It was very funny. We left after about an hour and by this point I had not eaten all day except for the biscuits I had in the morning. I did not say anything because how dare I complain when the feeling I had is the constant feeling for many of these children every day and they can’t do anything about it. So eventually we got back to Lira and I scarfed down a big bowl of boiled lamb and some corn meal mash thing. It was ‘ight (that means pretty good or okay). I am worried I will become a stick here. I will just have to get used to the schedule so I know when I can regularly eat I guess.  After that I came back to the house and meditated and wrote this blog post. It is now time for my pushups and a shower and then reading under my mosquito net until I fall asleep.

That’s all for now, I hope you all enjoyed. You can email me or facebook me any questions you may have and I will try to get back to you as soon as time allows. My email is mclary@lclark.edu

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