Dear friends and family,
It has taken me quite a while to write this final blog post, and now that I have caught some free time in between jobs, I will attempt to fulfill my duties of updating you all.
Although I have been in contact with some of you directly, my long absence from communication has been due to a whirlwird past two months. After getting some space, gaining some perspective and reevaluating while I was in Cape Town, I returned to my site in late July. There were a lot of conflicted emotions, but I made some decisions regarding my future with Peace Corps and within South Africa and I decided to pursue some other employment/educational opportunities with some of my free time at site. What begin as little more than casting a few lines in the water quickly evolved into an agressive job search in the field of humanitarian relief within the sub-Saharan Africa region.
To make a long story short, things happened quickly and by mid-August I had a job offer from an excellent international NGO with a project in Uganda. I had made the decision before that if I was offered anything I would take it. I divided my decision into two parts. First came the push factors: my frustration/stagnation with my job, a host of issues affecting the relationship between my director and myself, my difficulty with my community as sub-culture within South Africa, and the personal challenges of being alone and isolated culturally, geographically and socially. Then came the pull factors of this new position in Uganda: a more appealing country and host population, a more professional and accountaable work environment, working in a team setting with both expats and locals, freedom from the restrictive auspices of the Peace Corps, and pursuit of my field of interest: humanitarian assistance associated with armed conflict, natural and man-made disasters.
This is what I had been working towards since my last years of University and this was myopportunity. Taking into account the requirement of field experience, I knew that Peace Corps could offer the stepping stone I needed to jump into this field. Although some may consider this path somewhat dubious, I firmly believe that my short time within South Africa has the potential of stimulating my organization towards more accountability, transparency, coordination, ambition and vision. But I knew that it was not where I belonged and it was time for the torch to be passed.
After a flurry of admnistrative duties and good-byes, I boarded a plane to Uganda with a head full of reluctance and optimism, fear and excitement, stress and relief, but as we began to descend through the dusk-lit clouds of central/east Africa, and I came closer to the silver grandeur of the most important lake in the history of mankind, cradled by fingers of the lush, green forest, my reservations evaporated into the mist. The heavy tropical air that surrounded me as I stepped off the plane was like a warm embrace to welcome me to my new home. This is where I was meant to go 7 months ago when I said goodbye to my family at LAX. This is where my future lies.
Though I am currently sitting at headquarters in Kampala, my real work begins next Monday when I will arrive in Gulu, the humanitarian hub for northern Uganda. This is where I will recieve a handover from the current program manager and where I will take the position at the end of this month. Our projects are directed towards rebuilding infrastructure such as schools, health centers, and roads that either fell into disrepair or were destroyed during the war that ravaged the region for almost 20 years, offering employment during the construction process and promoting agricultural livelihoods through redeemable vouchers to acquire seeds, livestock, tools, etc.
Though I have definitely have my work cut out for me, I could not be more ready, excited and optimistic.
This is the end of my web log from South Africa. There is a possibility that I will begin a new one on my Ugandan venture, but I will keep you posted through my blogspot profile.
For a final time, I thank you for you interest, support, calls, emails, messages or even just reading this blog. Indeed it has made tough times more bearable knowing that there are others out there that are aware of this work. What you do with that knowledge is up to you. I can only bestow my highly subjective interpretation of what I observe and experience during my time away from that increasingly elusive concept of what we call home.
I send my greetings of love from the Pearl of Africa and hope that this fascinating trajectory of life may provide us with a nexus sometime in the near future.