Last weekend we traveled to Hoima District in northwestern Uganda to visit two friends (Sean and Katherine) from Northwestern who are living there for the year to teach high school science. Lauren and I have played host to them a few times in Kampala, so this time it was our turn!

Although we didn’t know each other well at Northwestern, the four of us have gotten close this year. Shared experiences will do that. In addition to living in Uganda and loving euchre (best card game ever), Sean and Katherine also recently got engaged…so we have more than a little bit in common.

We spent the weekend learning about their daily life in a rural area. They are staying in an old brick homestead built by Europeans that started a nearby vocational school in the 1960s. Its in a village named Munteme about 40 minutes from Hoima Town. To a much greater extent than Lauren and I, Sean and Katherine are truly fending for themselves. They have no electricity or running water and grow much of their own food in gardens they tilled themselves. During our short visit we planted some carrots, read alot, visited their school, played euchre, and toured the surrounding area. Their plot of land buts up against a beautiful forrest where chimps can be seen from time-to-time.

On the ride back to Kampala I reflected on the different path Sean and Katherine selected for their year here in comparison to Lauren and I. Unlike us, they have planted themselves in one small rural setting for the duration…working consistently with the students in their small school. They will leave Uganda understanding the daily life of the rural poor in Hoima and knowing they made a small difference in the lives of several dozen children. Lauren and I, on the other hand, have moved all over the country doing “back-end” policy advocacy and organization capacity building work that has a much less tangible feel. And, we have done so while enjoying the perks of Munaku, which include pretty regular electricity and water, and a proximate grocery store with all the essentials.

This isn’t to say that I regret the path we chose. But, I was certainly impressed with our friends in Hoima!