Monday, December 25, 2006
In just a few weeks I'll be leaving to spend three months in Uganda. Through January I will be in Arua, which borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the northwest of the country. I will be participating in a course run jointly through Columbia University and the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization of Uganda: Implementing Family and Community Directed Psychosocial and Mental Health Initiatives in Developing Countries Affected by War, Violence, and Natural Disaster. I know. It's a mouthful.
We will be spending a portion of our time in a classroom, but the majority of our days will be working with with refugees from Darfur, Sudan. I am humbled. Generally speaking, we will be meeting with local leaders and healers, working with existing formal and non-formal education programs, and looking into various intervention strategies, mostly for children.
During these 3 1/2 weeks I will be living in a secure compound with 16 other participants from around the world: Belgium, Portugal, Uganda, DRC Burundi, Ethiopia, and Germany. There will be 3 of us from the USA. And...there is another Aimee!
After the program, I will spend two months working, volunteering, and doing a small amount of research on my own in northern Uganda. This time will be focused on the conflict within Uganda (not Sudan), the IDP situation there, and more specifically education and the schools (more on this soon). Typically for me, it will develop in a somewhat organic fashion as I really must be there in order to know what I should be doing. I know how this sounds...
But don't worry. I will utilize my time during the program to map out my second two months. I will not float. I will be safe. I have been blessed with many friends who have collectively spent years and years and years in Uganda: working, visiting, living. They are smart. They are experienced. They have each been so kind and generous with their time and advice. I have spent the past several years learning from them, listening to them, and advocating with them in Washington, DC to end the war. I feel ready. I feel prepared: both mind and heart. I feel like I've been waiting for this moment my entire life.
Why Uganda, you ask? What's happening there? Well, that is another post entirely. I'll be back! In the meantime, love to you all. (Map via the International Crisis Group)