I’m off to Uganda…

Well, I’ve been waiting for awhile to be writing those words …and today I’m 6000 miles closer to my dream.

Sarah & David, out tramping.

Since Friday night, I’ve been in sunny England (really! it is!) visiting my beautiful friend Sarah, with whom I first traveled to Africa in 1989. Back then, we had a crazy trip running around Kenya, going on do-it-yourself safari (highly unrecommended) and getting robbed — and it’s unbelievable to think that we’re both now married for years, I have a 20-year old daughter, and she has the brilliant Freya, off to college next year, and my glorious goddaughter Lottie.

The incomparable Miss Lottie.

Sarah & I haven’t seen each other for five years but we’re sisters under the skin, and it’s heavenly sitting around laughing with her again.  But I’m leaving tonight for Entebbe, traveling through Ethiopia, and then I’m taking an 8-hour ride down to Nyaka AIDS Orphans School in the far southwest of Uganda.

I wrote about Nyaka on September 20th on my blog, and I met Twesigye Jackson Kaguri, the founder of the school, last week when he came to speak at Oglethorpe University. It made me quite wild to get over here and see everything for myself.

From the British countryside...

But sitting in Sarah’s cozy kitchen eating a lovely meal, I can scarcely believe that in 12 hours I’ll be in Africa. I’m a tiny bit scared and a huge bit excited. Scared that maybe the poverty will be overwhelming and I won’t like the food (Okay, I’m shallow.) And hugely excited to meet the children of Nyaka.

...to the Pearl of Africa!

If I can get on the internet, I’ll be blogging like crazy — and taking about a million photos with my new camera. I already had a Mac power cord collapse that completely shut down my computer and freaked me out but I think I’m back in the saddle. Stay tuned… it’s going to be amazing!

35 thoughts on “I’m off to Uganda…

  1. Betty, you are by far my favorite world traveler, and one of my very favorite writers. The list of places I dream of visiting has expanded in every direction because of you. I can’t wait to hear more about Uganda. Be safe and have fun, too! (By the way, do you ever actually unpack?)

    • Charles, I am so happy to be your favorite world traveler –but just wait til next year.. you’re going to flip out! Uganda is amazing and totally fun — I expected to be in tears half the time,
      especially because of the orphans but the people are so beautiful, resilient and hopeful, it’s impossible not to be inspired and delighted. I can’t WAIT to blog about it, because I’ve got some incredible photos that I’m dying
      to share – but the internet here is just soooooo slow that downloading photos is completely impossible. So — I have to write and then wait to post. It’s agony!! YES, i do unpack — and actually
      love to be home, but I’m a rolling stone — and so happy to take you along with me!! Thanks for writing — and I’m saving YOUR posts to read as soon as I get back to Kampala. Even downloading
      an email is an exercise in patience… which is NOT one of my virtues!

  2. Hey Betty,
    Good to know you’ve arrived safely in Uganda. I think you’re wise not to be traveling alone over there.

    I’m looking forward to reading your posts. A school for AIDS orphans. Sheesh those poor kids.

    Was the 8 hour trip to the school in a bus or a car or the back of a truck???

    • Hi Rosie! Our 11-hour journey (8 hours was a fleeting dream) was in a van, so that was pretty deluxe all things considered. The buses here terrorize everybody on the road, and not infrequently crash & burn, so I’m fairly happy that I wasn’t on one of them. The Nyaka AIDS Orphans School is totally amazing and I love it so much here, I cannot wait to blog (unfortunately, the internet barely works here so downloading photos, as I told Charles, is out of the question… and I can’t post without the incredible photos that bring it to life). I’m SO jazzed to be here — it’s gorgeous, fun, engaging, safe, and thrilling — all at the same time! Have a wonderful week .. and I promise I will read all your posts back in Kampala when it doesn’t take me 2 hours to pull up my email! xoxoxo b

  3. Have a super trip, this is my old haunt. Spent 14 years of my childhood in
    South, East and West Africa. Africa is a very special place. The people, Wild life, the smells, dusk, dawn and laughter.


    • Wow, Kimberley … that’s amazing! What a childhood you must have had … and I am looking so forward to experiencing something so different than my normal Atlanta life! You must have some amazing memories!! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Barbara! I feel very safe, since I’ll be with a few other folks who are traveling in to do medical and dental work in Nyaka — but just being here is an adventure! I’m just SO excited to be able to meet Ugandan people in a low-key way, in a village, and in a manner that’s not from a tourist’s viewpoint. I really am so looking forward to THAT!

  4. Hello Betty, I was so excited to have been directed to your blog by a mutual friend who “follows you!” I have just finished reading The Price of Stones, and am so sorry that I was not aware that Twesi was in Atlanta to speak. His story is amazing and inspiring. I picked it up a week or so ago (it is a fast read!) as I am going in December to the Mukono District in Uganda to be with at-risk students at a school there for two weeks. If all goes well, I will return a few months later (with my daughter, who is a teacher) to continue teaching and being in community with these heartwarming kids! Thank you for sharing (in Lugandan….WEBALE NYO!) Hope you have safe and inspirational travels!
    Fontaine Kohler

    • Wow, Fontaine — I am so thrilled with your comment — and obviously, we are on a bit of the same path! But you are amazing to be teaching there!! So happy to hear your story and please keep
      in touch and let me know how it goes! I’ll be really eager to hear YOUR experiences (and your daughter’s) — what a beautiful way to share!

    • Susan, I’m in Entebbe right now and even flying in over bone-dry southern Ethiopia and then seeing massive Lake Victoria and all the lush green vegetation of Uganda was pretty awe-inspiring. I just kept thinking of that gorgeous beginning of Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa: “I had a farm in Africa…” Just the thought that you’re virtually on the Equator and
      Tomorrow we leave for Nyaka … and I really, really can’t wait! HOPE i can get on the internet and blog — or else I’m going to have quite a saved-up cache of posts!!

  5. Betty ~
    It’s sure to be surprising and heart changing. Africans have a generosity, toughness and tolerance we can only imagine, that comes from the daily challenges they face. May your trip bring more to them and to you than you could have imagined. Check out the superb film “War Dance,” made in Uganda about refugee children who find themselves through dance. Focusing on three teens in war-torn Uganda, “War/Dance tracks the efforts of the school of a refugee camp called Patongo to compete in Uganda’s countrywide music competition.”

    good travels,

    • Diane — You have been such an inspiration and touchstone for me … with all your travels and amazing courageous advocacy for all things bright & beautiful& entrepreneurial & brilliant coming out of Africa — and finding a way to bring that to America through film. I’m really hoping people will connect with you through your project on Kickstarter: Young World Inventors.com .. it’s such a great concept!!!
      I’m going to sit here tonight in my room in Entebbe and watch War Dance — sounds incredible!

    • Oh Alice honey — you made us ALL live vicariously through you when you moved to San Miguel … so happy to hear from you!! (and just wait til you hear what I’m up to NEXT year!)
      We need to meet somewhere fabulous and do something cool together, my peripatetic friend!!!

  6. I feel just the same way about travelling to Kibera next summer to meet the staff and “our” girls at the Shining Hope school. Nervous, but excited. It is so important to bond with a particular place on earth where you can be helpful – takes it from 2 billion to a number you can love. Safe travels.

    • Hey Betsy — SO happy you are going to Shining Hope and Kibera next summer!! WOW! That should be SO amazing! it’s funny because as I was flying into small, pretty Entebbe today, I was thinking of
      those vast slums in Nairobi and how overwhelming that much poverty crammed in that much space truly is– and how inspiring and uplifting it is that those young African AND American people are not just collapsing under
      the weight of it, but instead doing so much for their community and making positive changes. What an experience you are in for!

  7. It’s very hard for me to imagine you there really. So so far away. In another world literally. It makes me quite anxious actually but this is a dream for you and I’m very proud you are living it. And you even managed to fill the freezer before you left. Those Bob Evans mashed potatoes are a miracke. I can’t wait to see your first picture. Make sure someone takes one of you. Larry

    • Darling Husband — first of all, thanks for being so understanding and supporting me in my wild imaginings — that I could do my 365 blog, and make this trip, and plan for next year’s jaunts ..
      I wish you were here with me because we do travel adventurously well together, don’t we?? (most of the time, Chihuahua Copper Canyon be damned) I am so happy I could surprise you
      with the Bob Evans refrigerated delights! I’m really trying to understand …i.e. read the directions… to my camera and will absolutely start snapping more astutely. I’ll send you a cute one of
      me & Lottie. Love you to the moon …. your wifey p.s. y’all, my husband is a wonderful writer, too — and he’s blogging now!

  8. Dearest Betty – so sad not to have seen you while you were in England. You will have a wonderful time in Uganda – it is one of Jonty’s favourite places in the world and he loves the Ugandans.
    Take care
    All love

    • Lulu!!! So sorry not to have seen YOU … miss you so much and heard so many great things about all your brilliant kiddies! I can’t believe how big they’ve gotten… and also can’t believe how much I loved the Ugandans and the country — Jonty was right (as usual!) … xoxoxox b

  9. Dearest Betty – Every tme I read one of your postings I thiink “well, this is the best one yet, she’s incredible.” And so I just keep thinking that, whether it was that airline miracle that got you all to your Mexican holiday, or whether it’s your wanting to see for yourself about the children in Uganda. Please be cautious and careful. I love you.
    Kathy K

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