By Katie Brunwasser
Masindi, Uganda– If you know me, you know that I am not a very serious person. I don’t have a problem with taking a bad situation and turning it into something hilarious, funny, and fun. With that said, I was not myself today.
The Aids Support Organization, or TASO, provides support and treatment for HIV-positive patients in Masindi, and ten other places in Uganda. Funded by the CDC in America and many other organizations, the center serves patients of all ages. There was a children’s center with about twenty or thirty kids playing with old toys that were probably donated from some sort of Goodwill or charity from another country.
For the first half of our visit, I was silent. Seeing the children, how sad and lonely they looked, made me so upset. Brian, Katie F., Katie C., and Erin played with them for a little while, and the smile on these kids’ faces was even bigger than any other child’s that we had visited on this whole trip.
Nearing the end of our visit, Erin, Katie F., Maria, and I went back to the children’s center to play with the kids some more. This time, I was a little bit more comfortable with the situation. These kids were so much fun. Not many of them spoke English, so it was very difficult to communicate, but somehow, we were able to manage. Making faces, using body language, and using different sounds were different ways we were able to play together. It was interesting that the children were able to understand what points I wanted to get across.
This experience has definitely opened my eyes. It forces me think about all the commercials and photos and brochures that I’ve seen with children just like these kids on them and how I ignored it and pretended it never happened. Now that I’ve seen it with my own eyes, I’m kicking myself for all the times I ignored their cries for help. I’m happy I was able to make them smile for the rest of the day, but I wish I could do it for the rest of their lives.