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Farewell to Uganda-Updates from East Africa

After a bittersweet farewell to the children at SNEC, we headed to Bukinda primary school for four more days of home-cooked meals (Mexican food galore!) and goofing around with kids. It wasn't all just fun and games; however, as we helped construct a play structure and tire swing using fresh lumber and assisted in teaching a few lessons. While the workload wasn't super heavy, our abundant free time allowed us to get to know one another through dance parties, yoga lessons, essential oil classes, and intense card games with one of our hosts, Agnes! However, we are still adjusting to how service work is performed in Uganda and are challenging ourselves to not set expectations based on our preconceived ideas.

Before we set out on our canoe trek on Lake Bunyonyi, we had a chance to explore Kabale on our own and get a taste of what solo travel in a foreign country is like. Some of us hit the dance floor on Friday at a club called "Mist" and showcased our mutual love of 90's R&B.
Early on Saturday we departed for Lake Bunyonyi and embarked in dugout canoes for our first day of trekkin', all while admiring the beautiful hillside communities surrounding us. That night we ate a delicious home-cooked meal at Mama Bena's, a local woman who hosts Edirisa groups, hiked to the top of the island at sunset, and gathered around a bonfire for storytelling. Sunday began with short canoe ride to the island of the Batwa people, who were driven out of their homes in the forest in the early nineties. We were briefly introduced to their way of life, including learning how to shoot a bow and arrow. It was interesting to learn about the different class systems within the tribal system, as most of us were unaware of the oppression of Ugandans by Ugandans.

The rest of the day consisted of an eight-mile hike in the mountains accompanied by a killer quad workout, frequent renditions of songs from The Sound of Music, and a tasty mountaintop picnic. We took a dip at Tom's Island to cool off as we waited for yet another delicious home-cooked meal and cozy bonfire. After another tent slumber party, we awoke to homemade chapatis and a tour of the island led by Tom, himself. He started off by showing us the tree under which he was born and explained how he inherited the island from his grandfather who was also born there. Additionally, he told us about the older generations' way of attaining a wife, which essentially involved kidnapping and potentially raping a woman, thereby trapping her into the marriage. Happy International Women's Day, right? We also talked to our knight in shining armor, our ray of sunshine, our diligent guide, Owen, about his opinion on President Museveni (a very controversial figure in Uganda) and homosexuality. Our last destination on the trek was a craft shop owned by a woman named Anna who taught us how to weave papyrus bracelets.

While we are all going to miss waking up to the beautiful lake views, we look forward to the adventures ahead in Kigali, Rwanda!