My Ugandan Home

24 01 2010

Home – it’s a word that I am still trying to figure out. I’ve been living out of my suitcase for the last five months. Although I miss my creature comforts, my own house and the little things, living with just what you can roll and carry has taught me a few things.

First is the amount of excess stuff that I have. I recently watched Up in the Air starring George Clooney. The story is about a man trying who is trying to obtain the Gold Level status of frequent flier miles for American Airlines. He works as a middle man who terminates employees for companies who are too scared to terminate their own workers. Overall I liked it because it was an interesting commentary of how people live their lives (somewhat lonely) yet surrounded by people with no real relationships. But the thing that struck me was the way George traveled. Everything was carry on. He managed to pack suits, ties, shirts and leisure clothes into his rolling carry-on with ease and efficiency. I, however, have not perfected this art. Two back packs and two rolling suitcases is quite difficult as you’re trying to navigate the line to obtain your entry Visa as well as make sure you have your ¬†important documents protected.

As I unpacked into my new apartment, I wondered if I packed enough. Even though I had read previous fellow’s experience and packing suggestions, I still felt that I had forgotten things. I’ve learned since being in Uganda that I should have brought more toiletry items. Why might you ask? Well, one is that everything is super expensive. Deodorant is $6 dollars and hairspray/gel can go upwards of $11. It’s just crazy. I’ll have to email my friends to send me a toiletry care package. The second is availability. You can’t just go waltzing down to your local Wal-mart and pick whatever you want. It’s a creative game of understanding Ugandan brands and buying when available. For example, I bought the last bottle of mustard at the grocery store the other day because I don’t know when they will have more. So I will use sparingly.

The other thing about living with less has taught me is budgeting my finances. I’ve always been pretty good at this but living in a foreign country makes you ask yourself need vs. want. I need to go to work everyday. I don’t need to take the boda. I want to take the boda to save me time and not be a sweaty mess when I enter the office. But how often do I take it? The other is dining out. I can skip a meal and be fine. Besides, not like I need to be packing in the pounds.

So back to my title of this post. Below is a pic of my home. I didn’t take a shot of the actual house, but the view from one of the porches. As you can see, I have a great view but it is an interesting dichotomy of rich and poor because just a hundred yards away is a row of homes that just have tin as their roof (may or may not have running water). Uganda is situated on hills and my hill has a huge radio tower close by. As I write about this year’s adventure, I am grateful to be serving in this capacity (if you want to know what I’m doing click here) and hope to share more about a simpler way of living for me in 2010.