Living with a Host Family (Sarah on GIEU Uganda)

During my time in Uganda, I was fortunate enough to stay with a host family for two and a half weeks. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was extremely nervous about this portion of the trip. I was going to be living in the home of someone I had never met, nor had a conversation with so of course I was nervous. I was worried that I might feel like an intruder in my host family’s home. I did not want to do or say anything that would be culturally insensitive. In all honesty, I was also very nervous about the living conditions. I was wondering whether or not the home would have plumbing, electricity, dirt floors, comfortable beds, etc. I had no idea what to expect and based on stereotypes I was preparing for something very far from my home in the United States.

It turned out that most of my worries were completely unnecessary. I met my host mom, Winnie, and my host sister, Blessing, the day before I would be moving in with them. I also had a roommate from my program group living with me, which made it easier knowing that we would be experiencing everything together. Winnie couldn’t have been nicer. She was so welcoming and worked hard to make sure that I was comfortable. Her home was beautiful. We were fortunate enough to stay in the Watoto village so all of the homes were very nice in that they reminded me of homes of the US.

My stay with Winnie and Blessing ended up flying by. I learned a great deal during my stay. Winnie taught me how to make homemade juice by combing different fruits, sugar and her favorite ingredient, ginger. Blessing taught me how to make Chapati, flat bread that quickly became my favorite thing to eat in Uganda. It was interesting to see that Blessing had her own spin to the Chapati by adding carrots to it. I couldn’t even taste the carrots so it was a great way to sneak in some vegetables. I also learned how to do the very difficult task of washing my laundry by hand. I scrubbed my clothes so hard that I ended up irritating my knuckles and had cuts for a few days. It was back breaking work and no matter how hard I scrubbed my clothes didn’t seem very clean. The next week, Winnie told me to pay to have her housekeeper wash my clothes for me because of the cuts on my fingers.

Winnie really took me in as a daughter. She referred to my roommate and myself as her daughters whenever we went in public. She made sure we were always okay whenever we went out to the market. One day I had a cough, nothing major, but she immediately jumped into the motherly role of making me tea and a doctor’s appointment. She also taught me her own special remedy of swallowing a whole clove of garlic in order to prevent a sore throat. She claimed that she never gets sick because of it.

I feel very fortunate that I was able to stay with Winnie and Blessing during my stay in Uganda. Their kindness, welcoming and wisdom will stay with me forever.

For more information on the GIEU programs visit M-Compass.

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