I've been quiet. Not just here but on all social media and at home among friends and family. It's really difficult to admit that some of my encounters during my January and February visit to Uganda shattered my heart. The country and the natives are so incredible and I strongly, strongly encourage that anyone visiting Africa take the time to visit Uganda, however, like any place on the map that is not my own, challenges unique to my own understanding arose.
So, for the second time, I retreated home from Africa full of the love and light rooted into the souls of its people and empty from the political and religious wars raging within so many of the governments and administrations within the continent.
This is such a heavy topic and I've gotten my hand slapped for talking about it openly but there are a huge collection of missionaries and documentarians and expats who have given huge pieces of their hearts to Africa who suffer silently from its politics.
I know so many who I've spoken to in intimate, coffee-sipping sessions that have shared their hurt from their time in Africa with me. Rather it be that they felt that they weren't able to do enough or they weren't permitted to do enough or they weren't heard or seen by the organization that they were doing things alongside or they couldn't bring their baby home or they couldn't change the hearts of administrations or they couldn't renew their traveler's Visa and now their hearts and their bodies are on two different continents or they were treated unfairly or they were silenced by the laws.
The list goes on and the catch is that despite the trials, every single one of us is in love with Africa's people and fighting the good fight to return to its soil.
These are heavy burdens to carry. As a documentarian I carry them even more so because I see things in my short time in these places that my heart bleeds to change and I have to walk away from them knowing that I don't have the authority or the means to do anything about it.
When I got back I spent a lot of time thinking about how I didn't know if I could go back to Africa but then I remembered that there is no excuse for wanting to choose my own comfort zone. Upon this realization I immediately accepted a position as a social media and public relations consultant for an orphanage in Kenya. I leave for Kenya in four days.
I have to keep telling the stories of the 147 million orphans worldwide. I have to keep documenting and moving from country to country. I have to open my heart again to new organizations and new relationships and trust that I will feel safe and loved in a place so far from my home base in California. I have to understand that my differences with so many of Africa's policies and so many of the things happening behind closed doors there do not make me different from Africa's common person.
I can still love there. I can still love anywhere.
So my suitcase is out again. It doesn't go on the top shelf anymore. Kenya is a new adventure. I'm four days and thirty-six hours of travel away from hundreds of new stories to be told and dozens of new babies to be held. I'll pack my long skirts and head scarves and make my American bed knowing that I'll be home again soon on the African roots that build me more every time I walk among them.
Difference in culture and policy and religious morality is not an excuse to divide ourselves from other nations. Our shared humanity is the only excuse we need to walk onward with our neighbors.