It’s 9:00am on Monday morning. I start down the red dirt path to the S.O.U.L. office, eyes to the ground in effort to keep my shoes reasonably dust-free. The twinkling of women’s laughter drifts through the banana trees to my ears. “What day is it?” I think to myself. As the answer hits me, I abandon my careful trek and tear off wildly towards the sound. I turn right at the sweet potato garden, scurry down the trail between the maize fields, and with a flourishing swipe of the matooke fronds in my path, I land among the most beautiful sight: 60 Ugandan women, bedecked in their brightest kitenge, patiently awaiting for the opening of the S.O.U.L. Antenatal Education Center.
In today's market, technology is a driving force. Everywhere you go, people are connected. Not just in the Western markets, even in a developing country, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get a job without even the basic computer skills. The technology field is one of the fastest growing industries worldwide and as we are educating our students through to university level there is still a educational gap between them and their urban counterparts in the way of computer skills. Through strategic partnerships with local schools, S.O.U.L. Foundation is aiming to change and bridge that gap.
“S…E…X…” I read the letters aloud as I scrawl them across the poster paper taped to the wall behind me, and the room erupts with a cacophony of laughter.
When we arrived in Bujagali as S.O.U.L.’s new Global Health Corps (GHC) Fellows, we were welcomed with open arms and open hearts for the important work we were about to embark upon. S.O.U.L.’s vision for a new partnership with GHC was to engage the village in in-depth discussions about the maternal health needs of the community in an effort to inform future programming through S.O.U.L.’s Maternal Health Network. We arrived with the humility to recognize that we lacked the knowledge required to properly inform such a program.
I arrived in Bujagali with Tom, another volunteer from the UK, and Nicolas, our driver. We were greeted by dozens of S.O.U.L. pre-primary students, who sang and danced for us. After meeting the S.O.U.L. staff and getting a brief tour of the S.O.U.L. Shack, we walked down the village road to meet our host families. I immediately fell in love with Sal and Mama Musa and their children. They welcomed me into their home and made me feel like part of the family.
My first visit two years ago was very hard for me and I’m not sure that many people I know would be able to manage the rawness of it all. Today, I say sincerely: "this experience is not to be missed.”
You all know life is not a smooth terrain but rather filled with ups and downs that every human being is entitled to pass through no matter who you are and where you are from. But my caution is “Never Let the Negativities Faze on you.”
Today was a remarkable day. A day I could have never planned. A few hours of sheer joy and excitement. A few minutes of heart racing anxiety. A few seconds of uncertainty. An afternoon with an incredible outcome.
As they say in Uganda, "You are most welcome" to the S.O.U.L. Foundation blog!
This is a forum we will use to share personal stories and experiences from a variety of S.O.U.L. Foundation stakeholders. Our first post, written by our Founder and CEO Brooke Stern, recounts her experience delivering a baby for the first time after stopping by to visit the local midwife in Bujagali- a day she will never forget!
We will continue to share stories from our staff, volunteers and the community members with whom we work in Uganda, so keep visiting to learn about our work through the personal reflections of the individuals whose lives are impacted by S.O.U.L. Foundation.
Jenna Rogers, Past Executive Director
The people of Uganda live day to day. It is for survival that they do live. They eat to live, and NEVER live to eat. They don't have a chance to save their money. They aren't educated about even putting away 1,000 Ush (50 cents) per day as that can work to their benefit, when in two weeks they have 14,000 ush saved ($7). They are not IGNORANT. They just don't know. But I can assure you ALL about one thing, they want to learn!