“You are Welcome”

By Serena

Balcony

As I write, I am comfortably sitting on our vast balcony overlooking the so-far mystical Mukono. People’s homes can be seen interspersed on a sloping hillside lush with greenery. The apricot rooftops seamlessly fit into the landscape and nestle into the gentle curving edges and rounds as if they have always been one. Almost directly adjacent to my perch, a grand mosque obscures my view of some of the slopeside homes. The air is ripe with sound. My ears are encompassed by the chirping of birds, the sputtering of passing boda boda’s (motorbikes), the clucking of nearby chickens, the bustling horns of traffic and if I focus in closely enough, I can just barely pick up the soft rustling of leaves dancing in the breeze. The sights and sounds, all fresh to my eyes and ears seem to be brimming with possibility. Liminality reverberates in my surroundings, yet there is more to it than merely confronting the foreign. The novelty of foreignness is familiar to me. I have been to many places where foreign has been the cornerstone, at least if considered from my vantage point. This is something different.

The transience comes from being in a position imbued with temporality. There is a strange power that comes with knowing that each intern before us has had an experience akin to our own, apt to their own variations. Some have stood on the very balcony I am currently sitting on and have even been privy to the same view. It is likely that they too brought with them a sense of eagerness to advance the movement towards an equitable society. The very origins of FullSoul came from one such experience, through its founder: Christina Hassan. Her experience has amplified into a cycle of experiences, fuelled by intention. Intention has unfolded over and over and has unfailingly latched anew onto others. We are inextricably linked. Each of us has been united in the common pursuit of protecting the health of Ugandan mothers and their babies.

Perhaps, this is why the landscape seems to be alit with possibility. My surroundings are remnant with the like-minded aspirations of those once in our place and have become imbued in my perception. With each new delight comes a sense of awe, made all the more pertinent through its very sharedness. The sharedness comes in trying a Rolex, a popular Ugandan dish, for the first time. It comes in meeting locals and being able to put faces to the names past interns have recounted in their stories and playing with the kids that neighbour our guesthouse, who we had heard so much about. It comes in going to the market and coming across a vendor who fondly recalled an intern once in our place. Each of these sentiments reinforces the sharedness and makes me hopeful for what is to come.

Already, I feel I’ve experienced a whirlwind of unfamiliarity, despite knowing that I have barely scratched the surface. For now, I relish the unfolding of intention certain to take place during mine and my fellow intern’s time here and hopefully long after we leave. I will also take comfort in the relationships the interns before us have managed to build, the work they have been able to accomplish and the mothers and babies they have managed to impact, from a journey that likely had a similar start to our own.