During our last week in Uganda I happened to notice that my flight information was a bit different than everyone else’s. Accidentally, I booked my flight an entire 24 hours after my entire group. Although my family was encouraging me to “bite the bullet” and pay the price to change my flight, inside I knew I wanted that extra day in Uganda. I wanted to soak in every last minute in the country, even if it meant mostly in silence by myself.
I made it home on Tuesday, just in time for Thanksgiving. With every family member and friend I’ve seen the first question has been “well, how was it?!” I’ve been struggling because there is not one word, or two words, or ten words (or 100 words) to truly represent the magnitude of this trip.
Landing in the US and driving home from Newark airport with snow on the ground I immediately missed the weather in Uganda. As the drivers around us gave my dad and I the “New Jersey hello” (if you’re from NJ you know exactly what I’m referring to), I missed the warmth and benevolence of the Ugandan people. I missed seeing adorable children left and right waving and jumping up and down. Lastly, when I made it home to my refrigerator, I missed the fresh fruit juices (I may or may not have drank 2-3/day).
Compared to the other countries I’ve been to, there was not one moment during this trip that I felt unsafe or anxious. I believe Ugandans have truly been the happiest and most welcoming of people I’ve ever encountered. My time spent in Uganda has left me more humble. It has taught me to find joy in the little things, like the children whose day was made by finding the perfect stick to play with. It has taught me to relax a bit; not everything has to be so precise and rushed in our lives.
In terms of healthcare, it’s so admirable how eager everyone in Uganda was to learn. With every presentation given there were people fully engaged and curious. It seemed everyone truly valued education of any sort and honestly wanted to expand their minds and their practices. Sometimes it seems as though many people in the US are just going through the motions and are only often driven by money rather than the knowledge or skill. There have been times where I myself have been guilty of this. This trip has helped me better appreciate the education I am getting and have gotten and the good that I will be doing with it in my future.
Before I go on and go on forever, I wanted to end this reflection by giving thanks to those most deserving. Thank you to Winnie and David, your hospitality was beyond words and I’m so happy we were able to spend the most time with you two. Thank you to ALL of the Makerere University students and faculty we’ve met, I hope you all stay in touch! Thank you to Janine, your work is so commendable I wish we could have joined you in Masindi longer than we did! Thank you to the fellow Wilkes pharmacy travelers, I hope this trip has brought us all closer (and thank you for letting me serenade you all with ‘Hey Jude’). Last but not least, thank you to Dr. Dana Manning and Dr. Stacy Prelewicz. You two went ABOVE and beyond enduring lots of time, effort, and stress to give us an incredible, phenomenal, sensational journey.
I will forever advocate for this APPE rotation because I will always promote the importance of global health to health care professionals (and future professionals) and I want other students to feel these indescribable feelings accompanied with this once in a lifetime experience.
Until next time Africa,