Monday, October 29, 2007

A Pause for Hope

Tuesday will be an interesting day. Another day creeps closer to the looming second block exams. More volleys of definitions, signs, symptoms, diagnoses, and numerous other facts will be flung at me from Power Point. My hands will be brought one step closer to being able to feel and heal the bodies I place them on. And Yoweri Museveni, the President of Uganda, will meet with George W. Bush to discuss a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Northern Uganda and the role that the US might play in that.

Wait. What?

It seems like I've been searching for a day like that for years, since I first heard the story of the Lord's Resistance Army. To go from there, to learning more about the children placed in harms way and the millions sequestered into devastation, to actually meeting children like Jacob in Uganda and continuously loosing at cards to him, to saying good-bye to all of my friends like Peter Paul and Abiyo Peter and leaving on a plane with their world so much closer to piece and yet still infinite steps away. Every tangible step since then, the renewed talks, the international pressure, the appointment of a State Department official to the conflict, and now to this meeting, strikes me with hope and fear.

Oddly, the fear comes first. First I remember hope that has bloomed before. That I have stood in front of crowds and told them that their actions would bring forward peace, that we were all a part of history. And also that my friends are more familiar with words and gestures of peace than they are with the actual living of it. And then I'm afraid. I fear that two men will sit in a room, comforted by the cushions beneath them, and talk of lofty things and vague, grand plans. That they will register the hope felt by everyone who understands the pinnacle of this time. That they will even voice their own hopes, and that will be all. Photos will be taken and politics will emerge the only winner available.

Then the smooth hope comes on. I remember the parade of white flags, how Jolly remarked that it was unlike anything she had seen. I remember Gulu blossoming. I remember two thousand people in Portland joined by tens of thousands everywhere. I remember talking with so many people who know that peace is the only option and who told their government so.

Then, I can pause and let the hope in. It's wild to think of what we've all been a part of. And it's far from over. Even after this talk, there will be more talks. Even after deals are signed, there will be reconstruction. Even with this looming before us, we still have to act. For those of you who read this before Tuesday is over, I'll provide a link to email President Bush, and help drive these talks towards the hope that we can all feel.

And then we sit and watch the news and listen for the echoes of all of our voices and our hope ringing out.

Email President Bush:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Reversed Recital: Delayed Reflections Part I

What with the numerable occurrences in life recently, I’ve only just realized my silence since settling in to Vallejo. It was not intentional. Life, as I’ve said when describing my return from Africa, has a consumptive manner to it that doesn’t release sometimes. Something about this past weekend between the reunion, the 90’s flashback music on the radio, and countless other events have forced me into reflection on the past several months and realizing that I have written nothing about this American life. So, I’ll offer some formally written (in blog format, not sure how formal that is) promise to try to reflect, write, and respond to life.

I’ll begin with the easiest, something I’ve already written. Even before coming back to the States I knew I was heading up to Portland soon to revisit old friends and my favorite state. I had been invited to speak at the Love Rally there about my experiences in Uganda. This invitation, in fact, formed a good amount of how I forced myself to process the experiences as I was packing up and heading out. The result is this speech, the details of which I very well may discuss later, but for now, here it is, something vaguely similar to what I said in Pioneer Courthouse Square over Fall Break some weeks ago: (sorry it’s kind of long, trust me I tried to deliver it in ten minutes.)

Paving the Road to Heaven

Thank you for that introduction, and thank you all. One thing I learned in Uganda, you can never thank people enough, so for them and for myself, thank you. For stopping and listening, wether you are parked here for the whole day learning, loving, and dancing, or whether you are passing through and were stopped by a story about a child, or a genocide, or a health clinic, or a global crisis, thank you for responding to that impulse, the impetus that tells us the world can be better, that improves our intentions and how we live our lives.

Being back here in the Square reminds me of how powerful that impulse can be. About a year and a half ago, I stood here with two thousand other people who slept overnight in solidarity with the children of Northern Uganda. On the road to and from that night to here, I have been shown remarkable examples of how our best intentions can go dramatic distances to improving the world. There are people who will tell you that isn’t true, that the “road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” They will tell you, citing entrenched histories of violence and death in Africa and elsewhere, that for all the money spent, we have done no good. They will say that donations and efforts do little besides placating Western guilt and advancing vague capitalist causes.

I, of course, disagree with this perspective. I have seen, in myself and others, the power that this simple idea can have. When a story or a picture or a person inspires something in us that is better than ourselves, we are driven with this desire to do good, and our best intentions carry us. I can only tell you from what I’ve seen that when these intentions are carried through honestly and fully, while the results may not be what we imagine when we first start out, they can reap great Good. A Goodness of the capital “G” sort.

The story of my own inspiration is the only way I can think of to explain this. I started out on this road as a college student, some mild experiences in developing countries, mostly in Mexico. After watching Invisible Children for the second time, I began to imagine what real impact I might have in the world. For those of you who are not familiar with it, the documentary Invisible Children depicts a civil war that has raged and destroyed lives in Northern Uganda for over twenty years. The conflict has resulted in tens of thousands of children abducted –forced to become child soldiers and sex slaves, in around 1.8 million people displaced from their homes, and in innumerable secondary effects from a decimated educational system to heightened HIV/AIDS scenario. After watching the film I was griped by the desire to do something anything—my best intentions calling out for justice and repair. I could have dropped a dollar in the cup and called that enough, but luckily I was offered the opportunity to travel the country and raise awareness with Invisible Children. That route led me to numerous high schools, colleges, churches and other places where I was inspired by the profound good will of the youth of this country. The experience culminated in the event I mentioned, with bodies strewn in sleeping bags all over these bricks. And after that I felt good, like I had done something, we had all come together and we accomplished a small step towards peace in Northern Uganda. The opposing sides entered into peace talks shortly afterward and hope loomed heavy for the first time. I could have stopped there.

Just as my money was not enough, the fact that I raised my hand once with over 80,000 other people to cry out “Injustice” did not solve the problem. If I was going to follow through on my intentions fully, I would have to do more. Again, I was graced with an opportunity to travel to Uganda and help create a program called Schools for Schools with Invisible Children aimed at rebuilding the North. I had profound ideas of what I could accomplish after studying International Relations and scoffing at the history of folly that Americans and Europeans have reeked in Africa. But if I was going to provide any real assistance there, I was going to have to learn more. As I sat in meetings with government officials, headmasters, teachers, students, and anyone who would talk to me I learned more about what real needs were and what real solutions could be offered. I saw schools made out of slants of scrap wood that produced quality students while relatively resource-rich schools struggled. I learned about the deeper qualities that were needed for development.

One of the most profound of those was community. Out projects in the Internally Displaced Person’s camps always provided us with inspiration. To describe an IDP camp for the uninitiated, imagine the refugee camps that you have seen on tv and in photos. Now imagine something worse. Because of instability caused by the rebel army, the Ugandan government forced a majority of the people from Northern Uganda into these camps where there was no water, no sanitation, no schools, no farming. Now a great percentage of the population is dependant on foreign aid for medicine, food, education, and other essentials. The rates of death, rape, alcoholism, and other tragedies in these camps are staggering. We try to help how we can but it wasn’t until a fire destroyed hundreds of tightly packed mud huts that I learned about profound help. As these huts where struggling families kept their few possessions were destroyed, a group of our beneficiaries in neighboring camps came together to assist the affected families. These people who themselves had next to nothing, who we provided a small boost of income and hope, and they turned around and offered a large portion of that back to us to rebuild the burnt and destroyed huts and homes. Only after witnessing exchanges like that of real love and community did I come to a more profound understanding of aid these good intentions of mine would ask of me.

But this is a growing, living thing. This spark of initiative that I’m describing in these good intentions continues to grow in me as I meet and discuss with people here and everywhere. And if I can offer you one thing, in my gratitude for the fact that you stopped and listened to me it is the understanding that I have come to. We can pave the road to Heaven with our good intentions, we can create a better world, we can answer that call inside ourselves that says we must do something, anything. But to do so honestly and fully, we have to follow through. It was only by investing myself and learning about the situations and talking with people that I learned how to help even more. If you have heard a story today that inspires you, I ask that you don’t just give money and let your conscience by assuaged. Get involved, the only way to change the world is to allow yourself to first be changed. And I’m not saying we all have to run to Africa. I was lucky, and I am enormously grateful that I could do that. But so much could be done right here. A couple of months ago, Invisible Children held another event and tens of thousands showed up to call for an end to the war in Northern Uganda and an end to the Internally Displaced Persons camps. Since then, the State Department has taken strong steps to assist the peace process, and hope continues to grow in Uganda.

That is what I offer you. Do not just be inspired, be changed. Learn about the people and the cause that inspires you. Then let that change in you shine out into the world in a new song, yours combined with others. That is love, that is the fruit of good intentions, of honest inspiration and wanting to improve the world with the courage to see it through. The call that Ghandi made, to “be the change you want to see in the world,” is your soul’s inspiration, your good intentions calling out, offering the only real hope for change, one that starts and continues with you.

(By the way, if the topic interested you and you want to be truly angered, read Michal Maren's "The Road to Hell")

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Answering the Shofar's Call

I never quite understood how the choice of an Observant Jewish-based institution would affect my life when I headed out to medical school. At first, I didn't even notice that Touro University in Vallejo, California was even Jewish. As it was explained to me, the whole thing dates back to early Jewish immigrants who have been participating in philanthropy for a considerable part of our country's history. Their latest efforts have been to bring health education to the West Coast. The first and most constant thing mentioned during orientation was the food. I realized quickly I would have to get used to BBQ's without cheeseburgers--an awkward thought. The fact that we observe all Jewish holidays including Shabbat (half-day every Friday) certainly adds a positive spin on everything.
Luckily, the differences do go more than superficial and calender-based as well. During orientation, the school's Rabbi came forward and gave a quick lesson out of the Talmud, which spoke of the benefits and necessities of community. Moments like that will hopefully continue throughout my education here. Already I am learning more, as we were inducted to our clinical lives in the White Coat ceremony through the blasting of a Shofar, a Jewish horn. At the ceremony, we received one of the most pronounced symbols of our new profession, medicine. The use of the instrument intended to loan some of its awe-inspiring blasts (the same sound that fell the walls of Jericho) and of introspection and release (through its sounding at Rosh Hoshanah and Yom Kippur). All of these meanings blasted towards us as we attempted to understand the depth of what we began. A four year task, which really just begins our journey, of intense learning and preparing to serve community and sacrifice ourselves.
I sat in my auditorium chair, looking up at our imported prints of Chagall's stained glass windows, and took in the perspective of at least the coming year. I've closed myself off to traveling now for a while. Locked into a home, building relationships as much as I can in my free time, I cannot even imagine what might happen. I know much of the time will be consumed by books, studying, discussing, practicing, worrying, and all of the food-and-sleep withdrawls that accompany these things. It's worth it. It's something I've been working towards for a while. I'm sure I can manage it, but I'm also sure it will be tough.
I also cannot promise much inspiration in these digital pages. Without travel to inspire, and with books and lectures pushing me down, I hope I can still manage enough inspiration to collect somethings worth communicating, but I will even miss writing about my adventures of the last years. Hope those who have read along have enjoyed the excursion. We'll see where it takes us now.

To see me in all my doctorly getups, go to
Enter the password "Touro"
Click on "Touro White Coat"
Then select the last page and scroll near the bottom. You'll find a group picture and my own. Sorry I'm too cheap to have my own camera, but I hope that gives everyone an idea. Thank you all.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Over Continental Breakfasts

The terminals and the baggage claims have vanished, but the traveling has yet to cease. A few days more and I’ll actually have settled into home. For the past week, while in some respects I’ve had the easy luxury of returning to the leisure of the unemployed and spending the whole day playing with my nephew, I’ve been missing some of that real ease that begins with quiet. Even now as I push a few moments into my schedule, I’m a little lost at how to sort through the memories that sometimes run at me blindly while staring out the windows of moving cars.

The changes and revelations that I’ve seen over the past week have come in fits and flashes. While eating, pushing in the same favorite foods, the ones automatically ordered without even barely consulting the menu, I catch—usually somewhere in the middle of the meal—the idea that I really haven’t had this taste in quite some time. I try to recall all the sitting and wishing for that taste that have flooded me over the year.

It is mostly at these moments that I notice how the past year somehow seems like a bump of a skipped record. Life has continued so steadily, as it should, as it couldn’t have been expected to otherwise do. And not in the great leaps and bounds of the imagination. It is not the great advances that I oddly find myself looking for every time I return to my former homes. Old buildings should be ravaged or removed, new efforts stretching up skyward. Mostly, life plods on. Even advancement takes the same pace it always has—eating up the occasional empty field and replacing it with the pre-formed boxes and signs of an America ready for consumption. And its easy to find myself slipping into the groove I left a year ago, filling the time and space with movies and fast food, coffee and cold beer.

I’m still waiting for the chances to feel the differences more than I do now. They are there, impossible to confuse. When I look into a sky that I once might have thought was glorious and now I find the texture flat, when on the long car rides I fail to see huts disappearing beneath the green growth on the side of the road, when I’m going to bed and my friends are waking up facing a day I can’t help them with and experiencing things I’ll only know about if somehow we can both struggle against the tide of life and find the time to write each other.

Nothing seems as shocking, and also ghastly familiar, as the excesses. Walking through the nicer outdoor malls of San Diego, where people are quite as plentiful as in the camps back there, except that here their lack of covered skin is carefully placed and far from accidental or the result of natural feeding or tattered clothing. Something about the gatherings, especially in food courts and clothing stores unsettles. There was one mall, this one in Phoenix, with a constant vigil of three flame-topped pillars, each tall and blasting enough fire to cook decent meals. The worst, to me, wasn’t the waste or the fuel that spilled out burnt into the air as heat and pollution. The unease, I think, in retrospect, comes from the knowledge that in this world somebody always pays for the excess, that is isn’t just bits and pieces of flashery to amuse the citizens, but it always gets divided and placed on the bill and we pay it unheeding.

The comfort can set it off as well. After switching around with nights on couches and floors and sleeping in cars, I was lying in bed last night, a non-descript hotel room with their standard huge beds and slightly heavy blankets, including the one everyone knows they never clean. I kept thinking about how huge the bed seemed, especially when compared to my rocking bunk bed that swayed whenever Adam or I dared to roll over in our sleep. The luxury seemed fitting and not too indulgent: to spread out and feel the mattress underneath every inch of any direction I might sprawl out to. And I thought how odd it was to have this now, until I remembered that I actually had much more comfortable beds, like the soft mattress and blankets in Masindi when we went to visit Peter’s family, or in Zanzibar, or wherever, and Masindi’s night cost five dollars.

The whole experience amazes me in other ways as well. One night, I was invited to a gathering of friends at my grandmother’s house. A few of her acquaintances from church had their weekly meeting and they wanted me to come and share. Here was the entire thing that I was wrestling with condensed. How do you turn the experience into a speech or some slideshow presentation. It was easy when I set my laptop to display the many-foldered photos at the pizza shop and I sat around enjoying dinner with my friends and family, randomly telling stories whenever they surfaced in my head and the monitor at the same time. This was more like the days I stood in front of audiences, theaters and classrooms and tried to leave them with something about Uganda to dwell on that would hopefully grow someday into action. I was surprised when it felt warm and comforting to talk about everything again in this way. Even with people who didn’t know the exact circumstances, these men and women had lived through quite a bit themselves and drew from childhoods on farms and lives in wars and other struggles. They saw the folly of the world for what it was.

The perspectives of my grandmother and her friends grounded me for a while. They saw fear in the world, and hope in the youth and all of these things that I tried to bring out in them and myself. They enjoyed the pictures and the media and opening their eyes and telling stories that placed the events in their own considerable perspectives. I tried to see through their conversations and my still unformed thoughts to an idea of the world. It must be something more than people and places, but it is hard to see from hotel lobbies.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Flying Westward

I tried to take my time. The whole trip was set up with the goal of not only visiting some fancy locales, visiting some old friends, but also just to breath in time. Even the flights themselves promised me some relaxation. Sitting in Gulu I fantasized about sitting in the comfortable seats, slightly reclined as my small television screen played movies I hadn’t seen or maybe even heard of, kindly men and women passed by me at regular intervals dropping food and drinks in my laptop tray table, and I slept as much as I could watching land and sea and clouds carpet the world below me as swinging past and behind me. As I still sat in Gulu, trying to imagine the best way to return, a trip laden with layovers seemed like the best way to slow to a gradual progression what must surely shock. Of course, I didn’t exactly plan on the itinerary I received. Four days of travel spanning four continents (technically). But without any idea of what could be better, I set off on the plane last Friday.

Before that moment, of handing over passports for one last exit stamp and loading of bags in the hopes that fragiles wouldn’t be ruined, there were a series of good-byes. Perhaps over the next weeks, I’d like to detail a little bit more about the last month in Gulu, some retrospect covering the times that I couldn’t elaborate on while I was still there. It was hard enough to digest the experience while it was happening and even with the distance of days, I still have difficulty assessing everything. I’ll talk someday of the celebrations and the stories, the tearful good-byes, the longing looks for the last time around, wondering what was happened, what has been accomplished, how will I or the people I’ve met be remembered.

I made it down to Entebbe airport with Adam, each of us trying to get in our last thoughts about life and work and everything. I’m sure we could have talked more about deeper things and less about the same struggles of our lives and the same easy jokes we always through out, but there is something nice about enjoying the comfort of a friend’s conversation for the last time. It’s difficult to imagine if I will ever see these people again. One of the largest questions I was asked as I was leaving was, “When are you coming back?” I don’t know. I’m heading off to five years of school during which I hope to do some small amount of traveling and after which I would love to return to the developing world and begin work anew. But where will I go? Can I return to this place where I’ve built up relationships, see what has occurred in my absence, pick up some things again? Should I head off to some new adventure, take the lessons I’ve learned and try to apply them in new surroundings, spreading the influence around? The whole decision is too far away for me to make any real attempt at a decision.

On a side note, it is remarkable that this question continuously arises. The Acholi peoples’ contacts with Westerners have been so full of people coming for a period of their lives and then leaving. The times where these people actually return are not extensive. I’ve always feared that this is one of the reasons for how when the children run to greet me the roadside, they scream, “Muno Bye!” instead of a more welcoming salutation. They are used to seeing me leave. Perhaps we have made some changes in this. In our organization, it is common for people to return. Bobby, Laren, and Jason have all come back numerous times. Katie has come and gone with great regularity. Many of us have taken vacations to the States and returned. When I talked with people and they saw that I wasn’t making the return trip or at least didn’t know when I would do it, there was this additional level of shock. Some of my friends pleaded with their eyes and sometimes half laughing voices for this to be another joke of mine, that surely I would return. It broke me a little each time to say no, that I had responsibilities at home that I had to return to, investments that would keep me away. Regardless of how much I would love to continue to be involved in their lives, mine pulled me away.

And so I left, on these and other circumstances that still swim about in my memory, I boarded the plane. All of my dreaming about the comforts are air travel were realized on the first few trips. Good beer, pleantiful food (as long as you continue to ask for it), and comfortable seats. I enjoyed the silence and the room for reading, the ability to look out the window and watch my home fly away beneath me. I ran through my insane itinerary (Entebbe→Nairobi→Dubai (7 hours)→Amsterdam (22 hours)→Detroit→New York City (26 hours)→Detroit (again)→San Diego. Four days of travel, I had spread it out to delay the onset of jet lag, to meet up with friends in distant cities, and to attempt to enjoy the return voyage. It worked like a charm.

In Dubai, I got to remember what fast wireless internet was all about. With simple clicks I managed to check emails, download, at amazing speeds that I had forgotten was possible. When sleep finally started to push towards me around 3 in the morning, I found myself wandering the halls with numerous others in the same vain, many spread out on the floors under blankets they had stolen from their arriving flights. Luckily, I had done the same, and I found a comfortable spot and tried to push out the noise, lights, and brilliance of the duty free shops below me. The sheer extravagance of those stores had been hard to walk through. The selections and the prices and the throngs still striving to purchase at a time that could not yet even be called morning through me back into the consumptive world I had left behind. It was nice to close my eyes.

I had been to Amsterdam numerous times before (once even detailed in these passages) and always enjoyed the city. There was something even more enjoyable after the hassles of Kampala to sit at a cafĂ© and have a cup of well-made coffee, to read just outside of a brasserie while sipping a dark ale, to push through the crowds at the only museum I braved and realize how my tastes in art might have changed. I now looked more towards Van Gogh’s pastorals as the source of genius. The lines spilled out from the fields and the colors of the sky that melded seamlessly with the trees and bounced in reds and greens and yellows that couldn’t help but remind me of Africa.

By the time I got to New York, I was anxious to see some friends that I have been missing for years. I met Meghan at the airport whom I hadn’t seen since UCSD and later in the city ran into Lance and ran over the years its been since we both went to Horizon and lived in that condo in La Jolla. Following an instinct that I should have acted on long ago, I pared the two and watched as they became great friends. Lance still finding his way in the city after a couple of years and Meghan just moving there, we all had an amazing time. Coffee in the village. The view from the Empire State Building as the sea buildings beneath me seemed to almost wash in the waves of people and vehicles and wind. The rooftop seating with live music barely making it from the bar below. We had set out for a quick trip—it wouldn’t be right to miss Manhattan at night. Somewhere around four in the morning we realized that we had probably done enough right by the place and turned in for some sleep only to try to push more into the day in the morning. I don’t think I could have done more in 24 hours, but the goal was far from whirlwind tourism, enjoying the city, taking it in with my friends was the real goal. I embraced all of that and all the while reeled from imaging how my Ugandan friends would have embraced the scene. How would Peter Paul have drunk in the heights of the buildings, and Peter Abiyo with the streets and the cars. Tony with the music and the crowds. The mixtures of love and awe and fear that would have pored out from my friends found some small expression in my own perceptions. Nothing significant, but at least a nod to the effect they’ve had in my life.

And then the doldrums. After New York was civil commuting. Layovers, crowded delays in airports, bad expensive food, no movies, worse than babies are the teenagers and barely older kids and their prattle. Soon enough, with the energy for the trip draining me, I landed in San Diego. Straight from the airport to burritos, carne asada fries, a nice beer, a friend’s house in which I’ve spent countless relaxing nights, and sleep. The morning held views of the ocean, the great Park, a breakfast burrito (technically a “Lunch Burrito”—the horribly misnamed conglomeration of eggs, cheese, bacon, hash browns, and beans.) I had reached the shores I had known for so long.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Searching for Home

(As a prelude, I seem to have included the wrong link in the last blog. Please check out Rubanga? at

Driving away from Gulu the other day, I kept rotating my thoughts. Sometimes I would stare at a tree, a camp, a hut, a group of children playing, the Nile, all of these things that I see, and try to fix it permanently as some image I would see at every moment when I close my eyes. Sometimes I would try to joke around and talk with Peter Abiyo trying to confirm and explore the already considerable impression that he has made on me. Other moments were spent scanning back over the past year--images, ideas and actions all sprawling out and coming at me at random times. And of course, sometimes I just stared. Like when I looked at the clouds and marveled at the incomparable majesty that is an African sky at its highest. Echoes of people danced about in my ears and I attempted to understand how I would not see them and how they meant to me as I sorted through the words they gave me when I left about how I had affected them.

I've been preparing to leave almost ever since I got to Uganda. That's what you're supposed to do. If your work is temporary, you know that you must leave and in your space, ideally, you must leave a world better for your having been there and not suffering for your having left. This doesn't mean that you don't let the place affect you in real lasting ways , and it still fills my heart and it still makes me long, already, to return. Even as I sit in Kampala, not even on the plane, not even at the airport yet. My work here has been such that I have made it the focus of my time. I have built relationships and experiences alongside it, and considered both of those integral parts of my work, but I have been running since the word "go." As such, I kept the pace until "stop" could be also be heard.

I don't know that I've been able to prepare myself adequately for leaving Uganda. I even have some work to do today (I fly out at three) And it's hard to break the habit of that and let my mind attempt to digest everything. There are uncountable things I'd love to say to everyone I meet, but my head has not yet fully formed the words. I hope that everything comes out in the sentiments of what I do manage to say, and in my actions louder than anything. When I look at my friends and prepare to say goodbye, there eyes seem to shine that it does.

I'm going to try to still spill out a few stories here, things that I have neglected to tell. And I can't guess at what will happen on the way home. I can hardly even think of home adequately. I'll be there soon, or wherever it is that I call home when people ask where it is. It's a difficult location to imagine--one place holding the anchor to my life. I can't really say where home is, if I'm going there, or how I might be ready to see it again. I've left it and I'm going there. Even San Diego is in many ways simply a place where home used to be. I'll see, and try to tell, what it looks like when I find it.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Ask a Good Question

Not long ago a few friends of mine decided to ask everyone they knew in Northern Uganda and associated with our works here a simple question, "Does Rubanga mean 'God' or 'a Hunchback'?" To which they received not very many answers but a lot of awkward stares. Since that failure, they rephrased the question as a request, for people to submit whatever they wanted to a first-run attempt at a literary journal. Figuring on a slight retreat from just constantly considering money and contracts, I tried to fold some small part of the beauty and frustration (and even the beauty of that) into a small piece. Given more time, I would have polished it more, but as it is, I tried for a small reflection of Uganda in terms of my own exeriences and those of my closer friends. If you want some additional reading, feel free to look through the first issue. If you are fully inspired, there is a call for participation at the end.