June 2014 - Linnet Griffith-Jones finishes her journal about life in Kaabong, at the end of her six month internship with AWARE Uganda - Safe World Field Partner in Karamoja, north-east Uganda.
Editor's note: On setting off for Kaabong, Linnet had requested that her whole series of blogs should be collectively entitled, 'Just Another White Woman in Africa' - but we didn't feel that title would do justice to her valuable presence there, volunteering at the grassroots. Hence the question mark in the title of Linnet's final Kaabong blog - in the present series...
Reluctant to Leave Kaabong
I've dithered around trying to work out whether or not I should postpone my flight, but I realised that as shallow as it is (and I realise that I am), there is just too much I miss at the moment to make me a useful person to have around; I kept drifting off into day dreams of washing machines and huge quantities of cheese and crackers.
So, having intended only to go back for a week in Kaabong and then go back to Kampala for meetings, I suddenly realised I'd been up there for three weeks this last time, and if I was going to get all my stuff in Kampala done before my flight home, I needed to mission back to the capital.
For the first time I was really reluctant to leave. We've been having a great time here, both in the office, which is now a hub of activity - absolutely no sitting around wondering what to do as there is always something - and outside work hours. Although Steto did drag me to watch one World Cup match: I tried explaining that I'd never sat through a whole football game before and he shouldn't expect me to this time, but he insisted and I was proved right when I got so bored after twenty minutes that I decided to go home!
There are a few things I wanted to do there that I just didn't have time to do, like visit the primary school that is twinned with the one near me at home, which is disappointing but unavoidable.
Being Touristy Back in Kampala
Back in Kampala I am counting down the days (and calculating whether it is possible to survive without washing any of my clothes until I reach aforementioned washing machine).
I have been trying to fit in some very touristy activities, which there are plenty of around Kampala.
So far, I have visited the equator at Kayabwe, and taken a day trip to Jinja; which is where the Nile comes out of Lake Victoria.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the Speke Monument, which is on the other side of the river, but I did go to see where the Bujagali Falls used to be (they were submerged by a dam a few years ago, to create more electricity) and was then taken by my boda guy to Itanda Falls, which I'd never heard of before.
It was well worth sitting on the back of a boda* for nearly an hour on poorly maintained roads, to see the Nile - with no tourists or fences in the way - and clambering around the banks looking at the different grades of rapids.
I am also trying to work out if I have time to fit in a visit to the zoo at Entebbe to see some of the animals I missed at Kidepo.
Considering that the rest of my time will be filled with packing and finalising and other things that have no entertainment value whatsoever, it kind of seems like the right time to wrap up my blogging experiment.
I feel like I should write about all the life changing experiences that have taught me valuable lessons and made this an epic adventure, but I'm not sure if any of that will kick in until I get back to the UK. I suppose I have learnt that you can get used to anything, even pit latrines, if you stick at it long enough, but I'm not sure if I will ever look back and think "Oh what a difference I've made to people's lives!"
I've tried to help out as much as I can and maybe some people will remember it differently, but really I feel like most of what I did was either a good idea gone wrong, or on so miniscule a level that the impact won't be felt for long, but hopefully people will remember me as someone who meant well!
That being said, I do know that I have made some awesome friends and had an experience I will never forget and which gives me the right to patronisingly talk about "when I was in Africa" like I was here for a lifetime, and not just six months.
AWARE Uganda has given me a chance to gain some insight into what it really is like to work on the ground in a rural, developing setting; I understand now much more the realities of the daily struggle but still now, as a Mzungu, being very kindly sheltered, much of it is beyond my comprehension.
I don't know if I have the patience to work for a local NGO, in a remote an area as Kaabong, for the rest of my life - the way Grace [founder] does, but I will always be incredibly grateful to her for showing me how it's done - and hopefully to apply some of the things I've learnt to future jobs (on that note - if anyone wants to pay me to work for their NGO, drop me a line and I'll send you my CV! For real I am not joking please give me a job!).
So excuse me while I go party it up Kampala style (what can I say - it's my way of saying goodbye to a city) - and thank you if you've stuck it this far with me; hope I've not bored on too much or come across like a complete buffoon - it's been fun!
*boda (boda boda) = motorbike taxi (or sometime a bicycle taxi)
Linnet Griffith-Jones is a graduate in Politics from Lancaster University and has an MSc in International Politics from Trinity College, Dublin.
Linnet is currently carrying out an internship with AWARE Uganda, based in Kaabong.