Saturday, July 8, 2006

"Have some, it's especial for this region..."

"Have some, it's especial for this region..."

The region is Kitgum, Uganda. My flight had landed an hour before. Fr. Tarcisio (see Link #1) - a Camboni Missionary from Italy who has spent the past 42 years here in northern Uganda - was standing beside me as I partook in my first meal in Kitgum. He offered me the local specialty, a platter of fist-sized meatball-looking delicacies. I roll the speckled grey and black meat onto my plate. It gives easily to my fork and crunched more than I'd expected when I took my first bite. It has an unexpected flavor released with each chew which, unfortunately, resembles canned dog-food. I smile as brightly as I can looking at Fr. Tarcisio as my fork slices another bite. "Termites," he says and nods. Trying to contain his inner smile he walks away.

8 July, 2006

Dear Friends,

Why am I in northern Uganda? Well, Fr. Robert - a native of Kitgum - invited me and I have the summer free. So I'm here for the month of July to learn about the situation of this region. This is the area so vulnerable to the Lord's Resistance Army (Links #2 and #3) and it is ravaged by HIV AIDS (Link #4).

I arrived in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, on the Fourth of July. Kampala is Delhi-like in its crowd, traffic and general chaos. Though disarming for a visitor - especially one of such a contrasting skin color - it is impressive that Kampala has come so far. Twenty years ago it was a hollow shell of a city following Idi Amin's terrorizing rule and the subsequent violence as internal power struggles pounded on the city. For most of Uganda, the past 20 years have been a time of growing stability - for most of Uganda, but not for all of it. The north, the area bordering Sudan and Congo (Zaire), the problems of betrayed loyalties, tribal warfare and government neglect continue.

None-the-less, I was relieved to be on the low flying 19-seat prop plane as we took off to the northern city of Kitgum. The view of vast Kampala below gave way to the green of African vegetation only broken by the site of the Nile River separating the north from the south.

As we neared the landing in Kitgum the sand and clay soil looked soft and comforting compared to urban Kampala. Kitgum's runway is dirt and runs beside huts of clay bricks and grass roofs. We came to a stop not at a terminal but at a line of six or seven white jeeps bearing the flags and emblems of international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs): Oxfam, UN, Red Cross and others.

So I had my first meal of a local specialty - upon closer inspection I could see the crunch was the small legs and external skeleton of the insects. I received the information that things were busy right now as one of the Camboni mission parish's catechists had died that day - snake bite.

There is so much more to write. Ugandans are wonderful people. As with all new cultural experiences, I find I sink into the experience. What impacts me today will go unnoticed tomorrow as a new layer of the life here is revealed before my eyes. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

love and peace,


p.s. My sister, Christina, arrived in her community in Honduras the same day I arrived in Kitgum. Christina will stay for at least 6 months living in community (L'Arche - Link #5) with those with mental handicaps. She is excited and happy to be sharing life in Honduras. I'm sure she'd appreciate your prayers for her and her work. Thanks!



#1 - On Fr. Tercicio -

#2 and #3 - On the LRA -'s_Resistance_Army and

#4 - On HIV/AIDS in Uganda -

#5 - On L’Arche -