Alvin’s mom and one of our Krochet Kids tailors, Prossy, made me an amazing romper a few weeks ago. She had a surprise waiting for me when I got back here from the US…………..she made Alvin a matching one 🙂
Hey everybody, I’ve missed you. I wanted to switch it up this time and give you a different perspective besides my own. My family came to visit last month and after giving them time to decompress and comprehend their visit, they wrote me their thoughts and feelings after being here.
First up is my lovely 13 year old sister MeiLi 🙂
“I can definitely say that is it beautiful, it actually surprised me of what I saw. Gulu with no argument exceeded my expectations of what I thought. But when you look outside of Gulu, there are some people who are struggling, it’s definitely really sad and heart breaking to see, and even if you would compare Uganda to the United States. I found that almost everything is so much cheaper, meals, clothes, food, etc. And even so many things I kinda almost took for granted. Lets say for an example, having a power outage. Usually you would think in the US if the power would have turned off due to a storm, or a Tornado, and many other things that you would think of. In Uganda, there was at least 4 or so power outages in one week, and its not because of a storm or something, its because they don’t have the technology like we do…Something along that line. After seeing what I have been seeing, It has shown me that life could be way harder, for example, if you fail 2 tests in school, you might think that it has been the worst day ever. In Uganda, there are people who are getting seriously sick everyday and fighting stay alive. Coming to a conclusion, if you were to ever go to Uganda, it does make you realize that we have everything.”
Next up, thoughts from Jeffman:
“I was amazed by the resiliency of the people considering the working and living conditions. It taught me a lot about patience and faith. Sometimes we aren’t thankful enough and we make big deals out of little things. I felt considering the difficult lifestyle and conditions that I should’ve been finding ways to help him them, yet they were the ones trying to make me comfortable. For example, when I was sick…people were calling around trying to make sure I was ok which really comforted me knowing that those are the very people looking after you as well. I loved the saying “you are most welcome”, so much so that I have been trying to use that as people come to our home. I was proud of you before you left but having spent even a few hours I was amazed by your patience and willingness to be uncomfortable for the benefit of others. I honestly didn’t think I could make it and that was after 1 1/2 days in Gulu. My highlights included our time with Bosco and Dom. As a man, I was able to relate to Bosco’s pride in his family and home and was so thankful to have been invited into their lives. I felt that being a father is often the same, wherever you may be…. I loved Dom’s excitement about empowering the women in ways that would enhance their futures. He seemed to have a pride in the people and the land and a hope for a bright future.”
Last, but not least, thoughts from Ma:
“I was sooo extremely excited to go to see of all the things and people you had told me about. Kampala was beautiful but as we were leaving that city it became more and more clear how things were going to look as we got closer to Gulu. At first it was sooo hard to see the people in the conditions in which they were living. Boda’s driving around with 4 people often little children with no helmets, children walking along highways, women walking with jerry cans, baskets with fruits on their heads, and a baby on their back with one or two along side of them as well. The people and animals everywhere out on the streets walking around…at first it was really unnerving. I can go for a few days and see only a handful of people outside. The first two days in Gulu were hard for me…I was adjusting to the lifestyle I was seeing you living, not easy for a mom. And also dealing with my own uncomfortable feelings of not having the things around that make me feel content. And then the guilt came in…how could I be selfish enough to think that I was more entitled to have those things that make life easier for me. My head was swirling… I wanted to connect with the ladies but my idea of walking into KK and helping quickly turned into me feeling very weak and not worthy of their time. They were so much stronger than me and their lives had been filled with an enormous amount of difficulty. When they would pray, they were really praying for some very deep things. My prayers have paled in comparison to them. I needed to get over the guilt or it was going to swallow me up and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my time. I needed to stop feeling bad that I was born in a more privileged place and start connecting with the ladies. I sat with them and listened although I couldn’t always understand. I played with their children. I rocked their children to sleep. I took pictures and laughed with them. I began to feel their strength and things started to change. All of the things that made me uncomfortable became beautiful to me. I started to see the beautiful colors of kitenge, the beautiful faces, the camaraderie of the people on the streets, the children on their way to school to become educated, animals that would provide the families with money or food, a resilient bustling city that not that long ago was filled with fear, soccer fields always full of children and adults, women working hard to provide for their families, an enormous amount of love coming from those mothers towards their children. What was so painful for me to see just a day earlier became something I didn’t want to turn away from. I knew you were in a place that would teach you more about life than I ever could. Gulu made me feel more good and bad, happy and sad than any other place I’ve ever been to, It drummed up feelings I’ve never had. I feel like those people really live, hard as it may be, they are living in every aspect of their lives. Coming back to the US was difficult in that I felt guilty as i looked around. We have the potential and should feel the obligation to help those who are less fortunate. The people in Gulu don’t want handouts, they want to work and build great lives for themselves and their children. I learned that we are not that different in the core of our being. We love our families and want peace and opportunity. I learned more in those two weeks than any other experience in my life. I love my life but now there’s a yearning to bring about opportunities for those who weren’t blessed as I have been. It isn’t fair but I can work on making it more fair for someone suffering. No more looking away for this momma!! And my pride for you is BOOMING! You are amazing my sweet boy! I love you!”
21 days and I am home for a little while, see you soon 🙂
My time with Krochet Kids has given me the opportunity to meet some unbelievable women. One of those women is Lamunu Kevin (the teacher in the yellow dress in the video above) . During the war, most of Kevin’s family was killed and she was forced to quit pursuing her passion for education. She started working for Krochet Kids and worked in our program for 3 years. As she was working on the compound she noticed the amount of ladies that had to bring their kids to work because they had no place to go. Much of the ladies’ time was spent looking after the kids, instead of focusing on their work. She recognized an opportunity and decided to go back to school to get her teaching degree…
My time playing Jackrabbit football gave me the opportunity to form a brotherhood a bunch of guys that will last a lifetime. Sorry to name drop, but one of those guys is my best friend, TJ Lally, and he reached out to me and asked me what he could to help out the people of Gulu. An idea started to come to my mind…
Kevin eventually graduated from the KKintl. program, got her teaching degree, and saved enough money to start her own school called Happy Kids. Happy Kids also happens to be right down the road from our Krochet Kids compound. Kevin has provided the ladies a place to give their kids a proper education while they are able to work.
However, this last year presented some challenges for Happy Kids. The compound that the school is in doesn’t have a proper latrine or playground. Without these two things, Happy Kids would no longer be considered a school, which means it no longer would receive funding.
I talked to TJ and asked him if we could get the pals on board to help Happy Kids. He was all for it and rallied the crew to donate enough money to build the latrine. What a crew of friends being pals being dudes being a part of Happy Kids!
We also received help from one of our MVP interns, Amanda’s boo, (shouts out to Isaiah haha).
If you are interested in helping us build the playground, feel free to Facebook message me or email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Here are photos of the progress:
Once again, thanks for all the love and support!
It’s been a month since I last checked in.
And let me tell you…the growth, the hurt, the pain, the joy, the happiness, everything that has happened since I wrote my last post has been intense to put it lightly. There’s been some rough things that have happened, some really happy things that have happened, and some flat out awkward things (but I won’t waste my time on that) that have happened in my life over the last month.
If you were to take a look at the sugar coated pictures that I post on my social media, you might think that Gulu is one of the happiest places to be. Yes it’s beautiful and the people here are beautiful, but if I am being honest, life can be really hard to understand here. There is a type of struggle that I have seen, heard, and felt that I never thought I would.
There was one week that was particularly hard to grasp.
It started on a Monday, one of our ladies came up to me in a lovely dress. I told her that she looked beautiful, she smiled and said thank you and then proceeded to ask me if I would go to her husbands funeral service that day. She has 3 children, one of which I have gotten to be very close with. My heart started to break. I started to imagine what life would be like for her and her family now, and how hard it will be moving forward. But then something special happened. I went to the funeral service, and while I was there, I began to see our ladies of Krochet Kids start to come in, one by one. Before I knew it, one side of the church was filled with Krochet Kids staff. It brought me to tears seeing the support and love these ladies had for their sister in her time of need, and made me extremely proud to be working along side such strong and caring women.
Monday was a rollercoaster of emotions, but then Tuesday came.
One of our ladies informed me she would be gone for the rest of the week. I asked why she wouldn’t be able to make it in. She said that her close friend’s son had died. He was bitten by a dog who had rabies. They took him all around Gulu to try and find the right vaccinations to treat him, but didn’t find them in time. He was 18 years old.
Wednesday morning. One of our group leaders pulled me aside and said that one of her ladies won’t be able to work for awhile. I asked why. She said that her mother was hit by a bus and passed away.
In that short three day span, I felt the weight of the world come down on my shoulders. I was confused, upset, mad, sad, and frustrated because there was nothing I could do. I felt helpless and alone. Helpless in the fact that I couldn’t do anything but offer words of support and alone in the fact that I couldn’t explain to anyone how I was feeling because I honestly never felt a burden so heavy.
But I took a step back and looked at all the women I get the privilege to work with. The unimaginable suffering and pain most of them have endured in their lives, yet they show up everyday with genuine love and kindness in their hearts. Being surrounded by that love and kindness lessens the burden I feel. Our ladies strength, resiliency, and courage keep me going. They keep reminding me of the beauty in the struggle. And I love them.
And don’t worry, my next post will be about the really happy things that happened this month AKA my friends and I building a bathroom for our school Happy Kids and my US family coming to meet my Uganda family, stay tuned 🙂
And shout out to Riley Miller for the beautiful photos! Thanks Miller!
I wrote this today. Through the midst of this adventure, work, and change, I had to make time to find a release. Most importantly, I didn’t want to lose sight of something I am truly passionate about, and that’s music. I tried to touch on some of the things I have seen and felt here, and looking back it will be kind of cool knowing that I recorded a song in Africa too haha. Also it’s been over a year since I released my first project. Had no microphone so it might not be the greatest quality, but I tried my best.
More Chune to come.
P.S. I am a Vikings fan so when I refer to 84, I’m talking about Randy Moss haha
Two days ago, I climbed my first mountain. The mountain is called Mount Sabyinyo. The challenging/unique part about Mount Sabyinyo is that you have to hike two peaks before reaching the summit at the third peak. Little did I know that this climb would become an allusion to my personal journey that I have been struggling with the last two years. Two years ago I hit an all time low due to a number of personal circumstances that caused me to question my self confidence and self worth in a major way.
Back to the hike:
We hiked on relatively flatland for about two miles to get to the base of the mountain and I was surrounded by people who were excited and determined to start this climb, as was I. The excitement and determination masked my uncertainty about what this journey would actually entail. This phase of the climb was much like the beginning of my personal journey of rebuilding myself. Instead of taking two miles, it took me a year and a half to get the base of my personal mountain. I masked my insecurities, lack of confidence and self worth through relying on others and building a persona of personal happiness in my mind. But don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of memories the last two years where I was genuinely happy, but something inside was holding me back.
Uncertainty within myself.
Journey to the first peak:
Once we got to the base, I decided to roll with the first group. I wanted to challenge myself and be the first person to the top. But to my surprise, about halfway through the first peak, I felt myself falling behind. As I fell behind, I realized that the only way I could benefit from this is if I get through this using my own personal strength (no more relying on others). Come to find out, the first peak of Mount Sabyinyo is the hardest to reach, similar to challenges in life and the season of life I am going through at the moment. I wanted to quit halfway up the first peak, I wanted to quit many times. But I knew if I quit and went back down the mountain, all the work I have done to get here, all the things I have sacrificed would have been for nothing. I love my family, friends, and now, myself, too much to quit. So I kept climbing. I keep climbing.
With that thought in mind, I reached the first peak. It was beautifully misleading because I knew I had two more peaks to face to get to the top. Life is similar, there’s often a peak point that you strive for, yet when you get to that peak, realization sets in that there are higher peaks on the horizon, it just depends if you want to take the risk to keep climbing.
I made up my mind once I reached that first peak that I had no choice but to keep climbing to reach that third peak.
Journey to the second peak:
My legs were already shaking in weakness, and one false step and I am tumbling down 3,000 feet. Climbing ladders that have been there for decades, some of them broken, some of them hanging on by a splint. But through all the adversity, the only thing on my mind was making it to the top. So I kept climbing. I keep climbing.
Step by step, I made it to the second peak. This peak gave me more life, more confidence. As I looked ahead, the clouds cleared and I saw three steep sets of ladders leading to the third and final peak, and then the doubts started to creep in again. Luckily, the mind is so much more capable of what the body feels it can do. So I kept climbing. I keep climbing.
Journey to the summit:
Focusing my pain, hurt, and sacrifice into each step I took, I slowly made my way to the top. And I had a revelation as I was climbing. The only way I was able to make it to the top is if I LET myself feel the pain, the hurt, and the sacrifice. I could no longer avoid it and I know in my personal life, I was running from those things. I had to face each step which helped me realize that it’s okay to feel pain, hurt, and sacrifice, as long as I keep moving in the right direction, cause in the end, all those things will help lead me to the top. So I kept climbing. I keep climbing.
Reality set in when I made it to the top. I was in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo at the same time (AT THE SAME DAMN TIME *Future voice*). At the top, I began reflecting on three different places in three different places, at once…yes, reflecting on three different places IN three different places at once. But it was still cloudy below. There was no clear picture of what was ahead, nor what my journey looked like in the past. But the beauty between the clouds was breathtaking, the present.
Making it to the top was liberating, even though I knew I had two more peaks to face on the way down. It was liberating because I knew the only thing that could stop me from making it down this gorgeous mountain was myself (or a Silverback Gorilla/Elephant, but even then still like my odds haha). My goal was to get to the bottom, so I could take what I learned through this physical and mental journey and apply it to my personal journey I am going through now. So I kept climbing. And I will keep climbing.
And shouts outs to the rest of the crew that made the trek, proud of you and you are all all-stars.
Last night, a group of extremely thoughtful, caring, and loving group of friends threw me a surprise birthday party. Yes, a surprise birthday party…
My birthday was February 20th, so roughly (precisely haha) 36 days ago. I remember having beef jerky and water for my birthday dinner in my room here thinking to myself, “I don’t think this is going to crack the top ten list for best birthdays of all time, but I am in Africa, so it might haha!”
But little did I know…
They threw me a Star Wars themed party! We had “Yoda Soda”, “Vader-ade”, “Wookiee Cookies”, “Luke SkyWater”, a Chewbacca piñata. And to top it off, a Darth Vader cake, I didn’t even know that was possible in Gulu…
It was unbelievable. We had some fly Jedi Masters and surprisingly friendly Sith Lords show up. An adorable Ewok decided to bless us with her presence. A few beautiful Princess Leias’ made lovely appearances. And come to my surprise, if you get the rare chance to see Storm Troopers with their helmets off, I highly suggest taking a second gander cause they are pretty beautiful as well! Haha
It really was an amazing night though. The people of this community, actually nah, I’m not going to say community, I’m going to say the people of this family we have here in Gulu (shouts out to Kitgum too haha) are the best. They set aside time from their personal lives and other important work to put together something so sweet, kind, and special. That’s what families do, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the people I have here. I wish I knew a better way to display my appreciation, but I really have no words or actions for how happy you all have made me feel. Thank you to everyone involved and May the Force Be With You!
Also great work on the group photo haha
One month in and it has been a whirlwind. Immersing yourself in a new world is such a challenge. Dealing with emotions you’ve never had, seeing things you’ve never imagined, learning things about yourself you never thought of. Things that were too deep inside to present themselves in a comfortable environment. Even though these things are so beneficial for growing, they can be really hard to embrace at times. Like really really hard, but when those times are hard, I realize that I’m in a beautiful place. I wake up every day and am greeted with smiles and hugs by women who have been through the unimaginable, yet they go out of their way to make sure I am cared for and feeling okay. It’s like I have 70 moms looking out for me and they have only known me for one month.
How fortunate am I?
They gave me the Acholi name “Omara”. Omara means “You are very loved and very loving”, which I was so excited to receive. However, that name feels conflicted these days because of some things going on in my life and some of the decisions I’ve had to make. But the trials and adversity are needed, because that’s the only way I will become the man that I need to be. The man I want to be.
With that being said, I thank all of you for the support. I miss and love you all, and it’s because of you and the wonderful Ugandans I have met that I don’t have to worry about where I end up or who I am because I have the best people in the world in my corner.
After a solid 19 hours of being on a plane and a one night stay at the Park Inn in Amsterdam, I can finally say that I’ve made it. I have to say I am a little tired, well actually a lot tired and sleep hasn’t been coming easy. Jet lag, 85 degree nights(with no AC obviously), and a mind that won’t stop thinking is a deadly combo when trying to catch some ZzZ’s. Subtract those things from the equation and you have a Patrick who is very optimistic and very excited for what’s in store. In fact, I have only been here for 4 days and I have a grasp on why people love it so much here.
I can’t count how many times I’ve been greeted with a “How are you?”, a “Good morning”, a “Nice to see you” all in 4 short days. I’ve come to find that greeting is extremely important here, which is a thing I sort of take for granted in the US. There have been multiple times when I have seen someone off in the distance that I may or may not say hi to, but just to avoid a potentially awkward exchange, I pull out my phone and look my home screen, as if it’s an urgent message, right as I walk by them, conveniently avoiding any social interaction. But I have a strong feeling I’m not the only one who has pulled that MacGyver-esque move.
But in all reality it’s those simple greetings that have really been helping me adjust here. I feel a warm welcome in a world that’s so new. The Ugandans want me to feel valued, appreciated, and most importantly, they want me to feel like I am home.
Which is more than I could ever ask for.
And this is my new home!
Well…this is my last night in the US for quite awhile. Thanks for all the love and support, especially from this crew below who threw the best surprise going away party a dude could ask for, along with everyone that has reached out with kind words, gestures, and expressions of excitement for this adventure I am about to embark on.
It really does seem like blessings keep falling in my lap.
Blessings- Chance the Rapper
Schuganda officially begins…YOU READY BIG FELLA?!
However, through all of the thoughts and stress running through my mind, I am unbelievably thankful that I have the chance to enjoy some time at home with my family and friends. Because I will really miss you guys a lot.
Chance the Rapper
I am writing this on my flight home from California and I just finished my Krochet Kids intl. internship and it was unbelievably refreshing. I feel like I have a direction along with a purpose in this life and I owe it all to my experiences with KKintl. I will be training all of January back in California to prepare myself for my next journey
And could you guess where that might be???
Think really hard about it, I’ll give you a hint, it rhymes with Booganda….
Still have no clue yet? Wow Uganda be kidding me….
Haha now that was a terrible joke but should have made it pretty obvious, but if you haven’t caught on yet, I’ll be moving to Uganda, which is located in East Africa. To be honest I am so excited, so honored, so happy, so baffled, and slightly fearful. Not fear for my safety in Uganda, but fear of losing relationships I have in the States due to my absence. I’ve always taken pride in being present in my families’ and friends’ lives which is a challenge in itself…but living in AFRICA and trying to maintain those relationships is a whole different animal! I’m writing this now to hold myself accountable in doing my best to keep everyone updated, and I feel like this blog is the way to maintain interaction and relation with the people I care for and for the incredible people that have cared for me. So without further ado,
Welcome to Schuganda…
And bare with me as I get this whole blog thing figured out haha