What’s your image of Africa? Most of people who never travelled here think of sick children with protruding bellies, dry and cracked land, AIDS, shivering from malaria people, urban slums with no water, no food and no power. World rushes with aid.
While some of these images are certainly a part of the Ugandan picture, children are the focal point of it.
Uganda is a world of children. If you travel to the most remote corners of the country with virtually no access to transportation, you’ll hear not adults but children. Children singing, children dancing and playing. Half of the
population of the continent is under x years. And how different they are from Western kids! One would not know where to begin… African children work from very early age -they work in the field; they sell and buy in the markets but most importantly they work at their homes. Their most important task is to fetch water. Everywhere you go you’ll see kids performing this important function – whether it’s a shallow well, river or bore hole. They carry the yellow jerry cans on their heads; cans of various sizes so even a 3-year-old can come with a couple of litres of precious water home. They also perform various functions at home: sweep, clean, mop, serve, wash and many more. They rarely need a reprimand or a reminder from parents as these chores have been showed them since they were little and they would not risk getting caned or slapped.
All of them are incredibly tattered – wearing shredded pieces of materials vaguely resembling shirts, pants or skirts they once were. They’re always hungry so every morsel of food given to them disappears quickly and neatly. However, give them one cookie, for example, and the cookie will be divided equally amongst all kids’ even if this means getting a crumb only. Hunger is something normal for them, something you get used to. They never ask for food or sweets though. They are interested in your phone, camera, any device really and they’d study it with utmost respect.
But despite of their daily struggles they always laugh. They are always full of life. They make toys out of anything imaginable. They are happy and at the same time sad
The school fees are expensive in Uganda so half of them only attend primary school and a very few make it past it to senior years / university. But despite of their daily struggles they always laugh. They are always full of life. They make toys out of anything imaginable. They are happy and at the same time sad and maybe that’s why sometimes it makes my heart contract.
This post was originally published on Marta’s personal blog.