Every soul we’ve said goodbye to has remarked at how soon we are leaving. And it does, in fact, feel very abrupt. We spent the core of our time working on the fence, which required both our leadership and daily labor. Our absorption with that project, which was just enough, meant that our experience here was a lot less social than that of previous EDGE trips. Instead of walking to Lingira camp to interact, learn and talk, we were in field sweating. The obvious conclusion we’ve made about balancing people and physical work, is that we need more people traveling. Even if Sam and I had only worked on socially-based projects, we would have been too few, (and also too male) to have anything resonate well. So next year, EDGElings, we need more guys and gals to carry on the work.
But, nonetheless, we’ve a lot to be proud of, as I’ve said before. We installed locking gates and cemented under them. It’s a goat and cattle-free reserve of garden. And we brought resources, brought together the right people, and left a plan for its future.
Maybe the most heartfelt part of a largely frustrating and tiresome project was after vandalized our own concrete under the gate with our initials. By morning, some students had connected our names with the phrase God bless you. I think I spent most of the trip assuming that people just wondered why these bleachy-skinned folk wanted to build a fence there. But, that moment was the first time I felt the unsolicited gratitude of our target group. EDGE, through Sam and myself, delivered a very well executed, practical development project. And the nature of the project ensures some measure of success that can never be guaranteed with an educational/sensitization/empowerment (or “people”) project. I’m happy to report back that, as we suspected, EDGE 2010-2011 has been a success, following two preceding stellar years. It’s tough for someone who helped research or plan the banquet or maybe only staff a booth to claim any part of the work that a mere 2.5 of us did during this month. But, all of the relationships and efforts that span across this year, leading to the hanging of the sign for LLHSS Student Garden this morning make it clear to me that every member of the EDGE family has a worthy stake in this victory. I wish more of us had been able to travel, but I appreciate you all the same. [ We will be sending out invites for a celebratory social in the next few weeks for those of you around Madison. Can’t wait to see my favs peoples. ]
Anecdote/Plan UpdatePapa O had a serious jag going on this year where he would reiterate that “water… is necessary for life.” It was always a pleasure to hear and eventually film! But, we’ve taken up that spirit of his and will be diving headfirst into the Nile tomorrow, as she bids us. It will be fantastically thrilling. My white water experience has been in an Old Town canoe on the Peshtigo River, needless to say, a mild but good sporting experience. It sounds like it’s pretty normal to get pulled under water for 10 seconds after being ejected from the cabin. So after our five hour bath, we will take a shuttle to Kampala and stay at our preferred hostel. Then picking up the shirts for the year and going to Entebbe to leave this heavy sun for now.
As so many have asked us to, it’s hard not to want to come back. I will miss the folk here. Honey, the most lovely and needy dog ever, who tracked us everywhere, followed us to the boat and watched us board before turning to jog back to SHIM alone. The scene was BEGGING for a sequel. But, only time, chance, and finance will tell us about that. What I have promised to people, is my sincere wish to see them again next year, or sometime. But also, that I will make sure that we will have a new crop of travelers who will carry on our work, whether I make it back again or not. If I can’t relive the experience, I will be certain to vicariously relive it through them.
So, I think this will be the last travel blog, which means I will be signing off as the overbearing voice on this platform. Thanks for reading, to those of you good friends who’ve kept us in your thoughts long enough to read the last post. I know I’m going to love unloading the months worth of stories and lessons I’ve come to have. So, please, invite yourself to pick Sam and I over about our travels.
We’re soon off to our farewell dinner at the only Chinese place in town, which we will attend in our traditional East African shirts.
See you soon, farmers,