Journey of Reflection: Insights from Uganda

It’s been a minute since my last update on Femmelennial, but I promise it’s for a good reason! I’ve recently returned from an incredible work trip to Uganda, which was an absolute whirlwind of experiences and inspiration.


I’m excited to share some of the key realisations and reminders that have resonated deeply with me during my time in Uganda. While some may not be entirely new, they’ve served as important reminders, guiding me to greater awareness and understanding in my ordinary life. And it’s my sincere hope that by sharing them with you, we can all grow and learn together as we navigate this crazy journey called life.

Lessons Learned from My Uganda Trip

Navigating Menstruation Poverty: A Stark Reality Unveiled

Travelling from Kampala to Mbarara, took us 8 hours by bus. As fate would have it, it was the day on which I had my period at its worst. Desperate for relief, I requested a pit stop at the nearest petrol station, hoping to find comfort in the form of a seated toilet. Instead, I was met with a hole in the ground, with no toilet paper, and exacerbated by the impracticality of my trousers. I felt desperate.


This anecdote is not to be ungrateful – at least there was a toilet. But as I struggled, my thoughts turned to the countless women we passed on the journey, silently grappling with similar challenges.
It reminded me of the harsh reality of menstruation poverty, a topic I’ve read about, but that is too far from my reality – even though the issue also exists in Amsterdam, where I live my ordinary life.

Reflections on Urban Anonymity vs. Rural Community

During our recent work trip, we had the privilege of immersing ourselves in the daily lives of a rural community of farmers, where the realities of basic living conditions were starkly evident. Despite the agricultural and economic challenges they faced, what truly resonated with me was the remarkable sense of unity and support in the community. In a world where material wealth often dictates worth, it was humbling to witness the richness of human connection. Families resided harmoniously side by side, neighbours were not just acquaintances but pillars of mutual aid, and the ethos of communal sharing was deeply ingrained in their way of life.


This experience served as a reminder of my own urban existence, where anonymity often prevails despite the abundance of resources (Read here my reflection on Urban Anonymity as a Curse or a Blessing). As I reflected on the stark contrast between their communal bond and the isolation often felt in urban settings, I found myself pondering a profound question: Are we truly richer with our material possessions, or are they, with the immeasurable wealth of knowing they are never alone in their struggles but surrounded by a supportive community?

Exploring Perceptions of Educated Women in Ugandan Society

In my conversations with local colleagues in Uganda, I’ve delved into various aspects of Ugandan culture, one of which particularly caught my attention – the perception of highly-educated women within the community. It’s a nuanced topic, as educated women often face challenges in finding a spouse due to their strong opinions and perceived lack of “submissiveness” to men. When I asked the two colleagues if they would also have difficulties marrying an educated woman, one burst into laughter, indicating his hesitation, while the other expressed openness to the idea. This divergence in attitudes highlights the importance of avoiding generalizations; each individual’s perspective is shaped by unique experiences and beliefs.

 

As I continued my inner reflection, I pondered why there’s still an underlying expectation for women to embody traits traditionally associated with femininity, such as nurturing and gentleness. And if – in a world of evolving norms and values – these deeply ingrained expectations for women ever will truly change?

MY CONCLUSION

Traveling holds a profound significance for me beyond merely exploring new destinations. It serves as a reminder to reflect on my own reality through a different lens. What may seem ordinary to me could very well be a luxury to others.


But it also goes the other way around. Those whom we perceive as economically disadvantaged may possess a wealth far richer than our own. The true measure of richness lies not solely in material possessions but in the strength of community bonds and support. It poses a fundamental question: What truly defines richness – the accumulation of material wealth or the nurturing embrace of a supportive community? As I navigate through life’s journey, this realisation serves as an important reminder to reassess my own values and priorities.

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