This morning I began to realize that everything is not really how you perceive it. I was running along the road, with the word mzungu ringing in my ears wherever I went. And usually when I am running during the week I see children walking to school, and they smile so widely when I greet them in the local language. Some of them even run alongside me, laughing because everything us mzungus do is strange. Of course they are not out of breath as I usually am running up the hills, and they are usually running in their bare feet!
This morning, however, I saw many people, unsmiling, and several of them who had disabilities and some who did not seem to be mentally present. I noticed the tattered clothes and worn condition of the children’s outfits. It seemed that all the negative aspects of the living conditions were highlighted to me this morning. They were probably there before I just didn’t notice it!
My friend here in Uganda asked me if I would really like to know everything that goes on in Uganda. We are here, only for a short period of time really, and we have seen only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many undertones of every day life that we are not aware of. I had to think when he asked me that question. Do we really want to know what’s going on, or do we want to see things from a personal perspective of how they should be?
It seems as though each day your outlook on life determines what you see. If you are in a positive frame of mind, everything seems to be right with the world, and when you are in a negative frame of mind you find a lack of hope in the world.
Often times we have the feeling that we work and work and still we see no results. But if you think this way, you will give up and not pursue further action. When we are running our training sessions, even if one beneficiary gets something out of it, I think we are making a change. We have to start somewhere.
Compared to home, things happen a lot slower here, but we must not underestimate the impact we are having, although having a realistic perspective is also key. It is the same as at home; you are not going to change people’s minds and attitudes overnight, it takes a lot of convincing and good solid evidence before they will change their management practices.