As I walk down the dirt road to the market, I quietly enjoy watching my feet become covered in dust. It reminds me of the afternoons I spent playing outside as a child, only to be met at the door by my mother, washcloth in hand, refusing to let me inside until my blackened feet were scrubbed clean.
Here in Nkokonjeru, Uganda, however, the dirt, like so many things, is more colorful. It rises from the road in red-orange clouds when motorbikes speed past, contrasting with the deep green foliage along road’s edge. Children in bright school uniforms and women in colorful gomesi dot the sides of the road, sometimes carrying yellow jerry cans of water on their heads, more often than not under a bright blue sky.
Yet, as I have learned during my first few days here, while Nkokonjeru is certainly a beautiful place, it is not always a prosperous one. Many of the children walking along the side of the road will not be greeted at the door by mothers demanding to scrub their dirty feet — what would the point be, when the floors inside are dirt too? Many of their bright school uniforms — yellows, pinks, blues, and greens — have ragged hemlines and scattered holes. For many of the children who wear them, participating in CARITAS’ Child Sponsorship Programs is a ray of hope — brighter even than the intense Ugandan sun. It is the means to obtaining an education that can help them to attain a bit more of the prosperity that alludes so many people here.
As I begin my three month internship with CARITAS For Children, I am looking forward to learning more about the community, its many schools, and, of course, the children, with their bright smiles; who with the help of sponsors, teachers, family members and others, have the potential for very bright futures.