Even after our Global Health Corps end of year retreat came to a tearful close, Rwanda continued to hold on to me, tossing me gently between Kigali and Gisenyi (and even hurling me over the border into DRC for the hike of a lifetime…up a volcano).
To be frank, three weeks in this country is quite enough for me. Words cannot express my admiration and respect for the ability of President Paul Kagame (who we had the pleasure of meeting last week) to transform this country from a story of tragedy and disaster following the genocide in 1994 to the thriving economy it is today. Rwanda is cleaner, safer, more developed and calmer than any surrounding country in the region – a shining example of aid money well spent. I won’t go into the counter-arguments of constitutional amendments and dictatorship that are quite easy to make towards the current government, I’ll just say that the past three weeks have been a pleasant reprieve from the hectic tumult of Kampala – or any city throughout East Africa.
But damn do I miss the grit.
I miss the smell of petrol mingling with the sweet aroma of burning rubbish, the open sewers and the densely packed crowds, the potholes and the terrifying swerving of the boda drivers. I miss the abundance of street vendors and the flood of children everywhere you look. I miss the chaos, the confusion, the bewildering magic of it all.
So I’m off, eastward and southward, on to Tanzania and Malawi, two countries that hold a dear and special place in my heart. Time to reconnect with who I am and how I fit into this fascinating and crippling perplexing world of international development before plunging back into a role within it. In order to usher in change to the current paradigm, I need time for reflection, and I will relish the opportunity to live outside of it at least for a short while.
I miss my Bujagali family, I miss my Ugandan friends, I miss my home. But I am off to satisfy my wanderlust in some small way and see what lessons I can inculcate into my practice – both professional and spiritual – in the year(s) to come.
Uncertainty has taken the wheel. I am just along for the ride.