Today marks two weeks and five days since I landed in Entebbe Airport to become the new International Program Coordinator at Foundation for Community Development and Empowerment (FCDE), the parent organization of isla, in Rukungiri District, Uganda. Traveling to a new place always excites me about things unknown and the Pearl of Africa doesn’t disappoint.

Our Program Director, Sylvia, met me at Entebbe airport and after a 35-hour flight our adventures were only beginning. We journeyed through villages and markets to meet the great capital city of Kampala, ate fried chicken, struggled speaking Luganda, and attempted traditional African dancing at the Ndere Cultural Centre, a troupe world-famous for their booty-shaking skills. Let’s just say I could use a little practice.

The next morning, rain pouring down, we boarded a 7-hour, long-distance bus to Mbarara, biting into warm, roasted plantains sold by peddlers, listening to Ugandan music sounding out of the speakers, finding entertainment from the passing landscape.

“Look there, you may see a zebra!” I fixate on the rolling hills, searching between the trees, but to no avail. I’ll know where to look next time.

Having missed the earlier bus to Rukungiri, we hire our special driver, James, to take us the rest of the way.

“How do you like Uganda?”

“The people are friendly and everything is so green!”, I say.

“Well now, it’s time you learn Rukiga!” (one of Rukungiri’s local languages).

“Agandi, (Hello, how’re you?), nimurungi (I’m fine)”. He laughs as I struggle with the words, but I promise him I’ll learn it for next time.

We climb higher into the green hills, plantations of banana trees and forests of eucalyptus flanking every side. The clouds wisp around hilltops and fall into the valleys, threatening rain at any moment.

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We finally arrive in Rukungiri Town, surprised by cool weather, but warmly welcomed by the staff at FCDE. I wish the journey here would not end, but tomorrow I begin my new life as the International Program Coordinator, and that could not be better.

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