by KareMeKuc co-founder Max Clary
Hello Everyone! I hope you all are well. You all have been in my heart. Well at least most of you… I think there are some people I don’t know that check our blog too. Anyways, whoever you are, thank you for checking in.
As per the usual, I will follow the format of first discussing updates with the project itself and then I will share a little about my personal experience in the past week.
Okay so the project is moving forward, This week I met with the District Minister of Environmental Resources to talk about how we can manage waste effectively at our peace center. If you would like specifics on waste management strategies I am considering please refer back to my last post. This meeting went well and I am now figuring out what will be the most cost effective with using local resources in Uganda. For example, people here use soil baked as bricks and we could use the soil dug up from the foundation to make our bricks that we will use for building. I then met with Jane Ekayu who is the director of the organization we are partnered with and we finalized the conceptual blueprints for the buildings at the peace center. With these finalized conceptual blue prints we will met with an architect in Uganda to make real blueprints. This seems fairly simple but I have decided to try to add a twist to this project. In an effort to come up with attractive and innovated eco-friendly design for the center I am going to work on partnering the local architect here with architecture students from America. I have reached out to a friend who is an architecture student at Virginia Tech which is known for its outstanding architecture program. The student I contact responded positively with personal interest and believes that some of her colleagues would be very interested too! So this is exciting news and we will see where it goes. For reference something similar to this has been done Here. I will be meeting with Jane and the board of directors for CPU this week to extensively review all materials needed to build these buildings and what will go in them and how many staff we will need. It has been a good exercise for me to envision myself walking on the land we have and see the peace center we will build and walk inside each room and describe what I am seeing and who I am meeting. This kind of day dreaming has been very helpful for me to really conceptualize and organize all that we need to go into this center. What a big project!
I have now been to the peace clubs consistently every week since I have been here and I have made a lot of friends and gained real trust as I have opened up about my story and they have shared theirs. In particular, I have become close friends with three guys and one girl : Sam, Moses, Jimmy, and Suzanne (she is the one I gave the lantern to and is the featured picture of my last post). Now that I have become friends with them, they and I feel more comfortable with taking pictures and sharing stories. So, Jimmy and Moses have agreed to share their stories with me and all of you. I will be recording a video of them retelling their stories and will post it on our blog within the week. I hope you all will tune in and allow your hearts to sink with theirs’ as they recount things no man, woman or child should go through. I hope you feel the hopelessness I felt which catalyzed me to start this project. Although I hope you feel it, please don’t stay there, please move it into action, send me a email with a note you would like to pass on to them, donate to our project, or shoot me a message and we can discuss further ways you can help.
That’s all on the updates from the project.
As for me, It has been both a challenging, heart-warming, and fun past week.
Shortly after I finished my last post I fell ill with an infection and “a little bit of malaria” according to the doctor. Haha. So that was not very fun. Uganda is already hot and Uganda with a fever and a weak body is a whole new level. Nonetheless, I allowed myself to lay in bed which all who know me, know that I can’t stand doing nothing and not able to use my body and balance my mind and spirit. However, like the many other struggles I have faced before, I did not back down from the opportunity to learn more about myself in this case, specifically my pain. While I was sick my experience collided with some of the Buddhist teachings I have been reading for the past year. The lesson I came to was the ability to observe how my mind perceives pain. I spent A LOT of time meditating because I was sick and could really do nothing else. While I meditated I focused just on observing how my mind was interacting with the pain of being sick and siting in full lotus for so long. By distancing my mind from the direct pain I was able to step back and observe it wholly as only a current feeling. It was not attached to me it was just what my experience was in the moment and it would be over before I knew it and at that point my mind would be immersed in some other experience. What I am trying to explain is a deepening of my understanding of the temporariness of pain. Pain comes and goes and that is helpful to recognize it is not forever and soon it will be over. However, I already knew this. Where I stepped forward was beyond this, all emotions come and go and by allowing myself to step back in my mind and observe all these feelings as a constant coming and going I created a space for myself where the pain did not really matter, it wasn’t even unpleasant as it felt so small is the sea of coming and goings of feelings that I have experienced and will experience in my life time. This understanding burst through me after meditating for an hour straight and when it happened I smiled so wide and in a split second my heart deepened an understanding that in the past my mind could only conceptualize. Haha, I hope after you read this you don’t think I am crazy. Well truth is, I am totally crazy but I think in a very beautiful and helpful way. Anyways so that is my sick story, within a few days I saw a doctor and got the appropriate medication which was actually not a stressful experience at all. The small private clinic I went to was nice and fairly well staffed and clean. I was impressed considering how terrible many government and private clinics are here in Uganda. Within a couple days I was back up on my feet laughing, hacky sacking and doing push-ups as per the usual. I wish I could somehow take all of you and allow you to look through my eyes and experience what I am experiencing here. Uganda and this trip has been one of the most beautiful and relaxing times of my life. I spend my days sleeping in, meeting nice people, laying ground work for this project and giving all I have to everyone around me. The amazing thing is that although I am giving everything I have away (personally and materially) I feel that I have never been fuller. yesterday I rode on the motorcycle back from the peace club shirtless because I met this deaf boy who seemed to have no friends and I don’t think his parents take care of him if they are even around. He was covered in dried mud and only had a completely torn shirt and trousers. I pointed to my shirt and then his and nodded. He looked at me and nodded and smiled wide. I took off my shirt right there and gave it to him as everyone laughed at me but I didn’t care, you never know what just a little kindness does to someone’s spirit. I rode back on the motorcycle with just pants, shoes and tears in my eyes. I felt better than I think I could if I had all the riches in the world. There of course was the ting of discontent that I wish I could do more for that kid and the tens of thousands like him all over the world but that discontent is important as it keeps me moving forward. I finished my night by going out with some friends and dancing until the early hours of the morning. What a life it is to give and work toward a never-ending growth. I look forward to the time I get to see many of your faces and I can sit with you with a cup of tea in our hands and tell you fully what I am experiencing here. I have said so many times before and I will say it again, I cannot thank you all enough for supporting my dream to be here and help this world. I love you all more than I can express. Thanks journeying with me.