so, i can't adequately capture the ways in which my trips to uganda have impacted me...but here is a snipet:) uganda is probably not high on the list of "tourist" destinations despite the reference to it being the "pearl of africa", the source of the nile complete with some of the best rafting in the world (but get there fast...they are planning to dam the nile to solve some significant energy issues at which point the rapids will be gone), and famous gorillas. although i am generally not much of a tourist, it is hard to not stick out and be obvious...i quickly have grown rather accustomed to feeling like a celebrity with cheers (well and laughs, finger pointing, and "mzungu/white person") everywhere you go. frankly it is a little difficult to return to normal person status upon repatriation! i suppose uganda's 20+ year war in the north with the LRA, and its close proximity to places like rwanda and the sudan have not made it attractive to travelers.
I LOVE this picture:)
..although that is exactly why some have been drawn there. uganda has a reputation for the way in which the communities have worked to decrease the spread of HIV/AIDS. when i first went to uganda in the summer of 05 i knew that things were "bad" in the northern part of the country but i had very little awareness of what was going on up there even while being in country. soon after i returned i started hearing about the 'invisible children' movie and movement and was completely shocked the more i learned. check out invisiblechildren.com, enoughproject.org, and resolveuganda to move from an interest in what is going on in the world to action to change what is happening in the world!
ok, now off of the soapbox (kind of!)...if you are looking for a travel experience combined with service let me introduce you to AOET uganda.
you can learn more about aoet at aoet.org...there are now offices in many african nations as well as the US, but the international office is in jinja (they also have an office up in the north of uganda) and the organization was started by a ugandan and his wife who is kenyan. they are amazing! the focus of aoet in each location is unique to the community but focuses on children and therefore in turn addresses the needs of women, health, HIV/AIDS education, empowerment/skill training, and education. they are doing some really cool things and all of the staff are truly incredible people.