I’m not helping my situation by listening to “The Call” by Regina Spektor—that has become the song of the trip for me.
I’m so tired, I need to sleep, but I want to never forget this night! I think I will include a paraphrase of the speech I gave at dinner.
“I don’t want to say much, but I would be totally remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to say thank you. I came to Uganda, not knowing what to expect. I knew almost nothing about St. Jude. I knew it was a 3.7 acre demonstration farm and training center. I knew I would be living with the director. That is about it.
My time here has exceeded my expectations and then some. I have learned a ton. I have learned things that I can apply in my studies and my life at home. I have gained a better understanding of the challenges facing Ugandan farmers. And I’ve also learned how to vaccinate a chicken, milk a cow, shoot an arrow and make chapatti.
Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your support of my project. Thank you for including me even when I was pretty useless. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for making me part of the St. Jude Family. It is my hope that we will meet again, but until then, I will miss you all very much.”
Dinner was eaten in a stratified manner. There were notable absences (Sam and Edison!) I ate with Josephine, Margaret, Patrick and Jude. I think a lot of the employees are too intimidated to eat with me. Rosetta brought me a strawberry Fanta—my favorite. Josephine insisted I have a (warm) Heineken. After dinner, I sat and talked with Harriema and watched Lilliam dance to the hip hop music videos. That girl was stanky legging and dropping it low. Jude suggested she get a strippers pole…which is inappropriate, but still funny.
I thought people were dispersing…but everyone magically reappeared and even sat at one table. After I gave my speech, Josephine, Paul, Nor, Harriema and Patrick all spoke. Josephine declared me to the best intern that St. Jude has ever had. She said my absence even on the weekends was felt by everyone. She implored me to stay in touch. She sent claps to America for my parents. Paul acknowledged the impact of my work, citing the reaction of the Kabulassoke women as the proof of the difference I have made. He admitted that he struggled with me at first—always harassing me about wearing gloves etc. But, my eagerness to work on the ground helped me fit right in. Nor said he would never forget milking with me. Harriema mentioned how special my friendship is to her and how much she has loved greeting me every morning. Patrick talked about what an example I am at such a young age—and how evident it is that I love what I am doing.
Hearing those words made me feel really good about the time I’ve spent here. It’s easy to be critical and dubious of social work…but this helps me believe that I have touched lives. And that is really powerful.
I walked back from the new center with Harriema, Sam, Nor, Ronnie and Edison. It was only 8:30, but it was dark out. The stars were out and the night was perfect.