It’s broken! It’s off! Internet is down! These three cries of desperation are the most common said here at my residence in the district of Kololo in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. Since my arrival six weeks ago, the refrigerator broke, the electric kettle broke, and the broom broke, too. Most of the wall sockets don’t work and there’s only a fan for the heat and extreme humidity. The electric is off at least three or four times a week, and the internet is rarely available. Besides this, if you do achieve success, the Wi-Fi is slow and pretty much useless. Being American I’m not so used to such goings on and I do get extremely frustrated. On the other hand, these folks that own my cottage are dear and go to any extreme to see that I am cared for. But, you can’t fix everything, or so it sometimes seems.
How does anyone handle this and why not just leave and come home? Well, it’s that second wave of intent in the preceding paragraph that captures the whole of the mindset. “On the other hand,” is a statement in itself that promotes a giant leap upward, for it indicates there really must be another side to all this. And indeed, there is. Acceptance and respect are what is offered as a safe avenue to circumvent and alleviate what could morph into anger. Although never living within the sweet standards we Americans embrace, these Ugandans do seem to understand. When they rush to your aid, they will do anything to spark hope and foster comfort.
Again, I grasp ahold of this amazing culture of belief and optimism. These folks remain steadfast in God and their optimism is born from within. Men in particular sport a sense of self-confidence rarely found in any culture, especially one that is steeped in such poverty. To NEED internet is huge, let alone seek it out. But, such folks KNOW they will succeed, despite the trials and efforts involved. Somehow these people care about us Mzungus (white people) with all their hearts. Give em a chance and they will prove this true every time. For a fact, there’s something more to these Ugandans than what originally meets the eye. Whatever it is, I’d be rich if I could bottle and sell it.