I have been home four weeks already and thought it was about time I posted a little update on how I am. Everyone I see keeps asking how I am. Every De-Brief I have had and each Re-Entry book I have recently read has warned me about the difficulties of the transition I may face and struggle with going from a developing country to one of wealth and luxury. As I write this I am actually feeling ok. Of course, it feels a little strange to be back and I have moments where I struggle to understand the huge and very unfair differences that exist between the UK and Uganda. I have questioned the harshness of life that my friends are living in Africa while I sit in my comfortable existence here. I still take a gasp of horror and shake my head as I walk into Tescos and peer at the 2 large aisle's of bread and bakery related products when all I need is a simple loaf! However, I am doing ok! I actually find it quite strange how easily I am slipping back into the fast pace of life and the world around me. Some days it feels like I never even went away and that the last year could have been a dream. How surreal it feels some days - maybe it's just that right now I am in my honeymoon period as the realities of work and daily pressures are not fully upon me yet!
What I do think of every day is the faces of the children who I have spent the last year with. The wonderful little characters and personalities that have blessed me, taught me so much and shaped who I have become over the last 12 months. I miss them desperately. I miss their laughter, the fun they brought to my day and I really miss their huge hugs and love that they would pour into me from early morning until last thing at night.
I learnt to live in a different way whilst being in Uganda. Some of these adjustments were difficult and some were fine. Adjusting to fit into your environment and culture was something that surprised me in how easily one can adapt. My daily life I was living there became my normal and my expectations adjusted so that what we had was enough. I grew to love so many things about Uganda and of course totally missed so many things about home. Here are a few of my thoughts on those;
Things I am loving about being home:
My totally wonderful and comfy bed
Not having to wash the staining, red soil off my feet every night
Reliable and fast internet
Clothes that smell amazing - a year away from good fabric conditioner really makes it more wonderful than ever!!
Being able to drive
Having friends and family so close by
The light evenings - what a treat to be out and about in the evenings without panicking about getting home before it gets dark
Calm, ordered road ways where all drivers follow the rules of the road!
Things I am missing:
The sound of children's laughter, singing and playing at all times of the day
The friends I made over the last year who became so precious to me
The simplicity of life
Phillip - I miss him every moment of every day :(
Working in my clinic
Eating fresh mangos, pineapple and avocado each day
Being called "Muzungu" and "Nurse Katie"
Evenings spent playing Telephone Pictionary, Dutch Blitz or just hanging out with other missionaries
Spending feel good time in the baby and toddler house at least once a day
The beautiful scenery and of course the weather!
Being back home I can see how much I have available to me. I am adjusting to living in a familiar culture again that I will have to make my norm. It's wonderful to have so much available and so many options open to me every day. This place is not a lot better its just a lot different. Being away gave me the opportunity to see life in a new way. I got to experience what normal is for other people. The daily challenges they face day to day compared to mine. I got to witness the things that excite them and the best thing was that I got to live alongside them and experience these frustrations and joys with them as well. I had to watch young boys fighting over my rubbish bags, I attended a burial and watched a family grieve the loss of their precious baby. I celebrated birthdays, weddings, good school reports and job promotions. I played, laughed, cried, played jokes and delighted in the pure mischievousness of children that surpasses any ethnicity or culture.
I have learned to adjust to living without electricity and without 'mod-cons'. I adjusted to not having bagels for lunch and not always getting hot showers. This year helped me to learn that living without 'stuff' is ok. I am praying that as I settle back into life that I remember what it has been like to live with just enough. In Uganda I had all that I needed. I discovered that I didn't need a hectic schedule or a t-shirt in every colour - 'just in case'. Or the latest phone, things in my home, an array of bakery products - bagels and waffles and half brown & half white loaves and cheese topped bread & multi seeded bread!!! Life was good and I was given all that I was needed.