In my final blog I am going to talk about hope and how we can keep hope in our own daily lives, even when it seems impossible. One aspect of hope I have not previously brought up is religion. Religion is extremely prominent in Kagoma Gate and in many villages all across Uganda. There are three established religions in Kagoma Gate—two Pentecostals and one Anglican Church. There are other religious beliefs and practices in the village but these are the three largest. At first, it seems like religion is what enables the villagers of Kagoma Gate to have radical hope. However, when looking at what they hope for in their lives, no matter the religion to which they belong, their hopes and dreams were always related to family or others around them. Relationships with others is what I believe enabled the villagers to have radical hope. As I have discussed in previous blogs, villagers wanted their futures to be with their families or they wanted a bright future for their family members. It was often family that enabled them to keep “radical hope” or, in some cases, to not have any hope at all. The lady I discussed in earlier blogs said she had no hope, was religious, and was a member of the Anglican Church. But she, unlike other members of the church who had family, did not have hope. With no one to care about or for, she had no hope.
So how do we keep this hope in our own daily lives? Continue reading
I have been home for almost a week now and this week I have been focusing on the acceptance aspect of my research. In short, I found that the villagers were able to create and live in a village of such diversity by sharing their stories. This enabled them to find common ground. Although they were from different tribes and different countries, they all had faced extreme atrocities. So many of the villagers had lost one or both parents, a spouse, children or other people close to them. So many of them have faced violence, starvation, illnesses, and long journeys to seek refuge. When experiencing events and pain such as these, the tribe you belong to quickly becomes irrelevant. The villagers did not even think about the origins of their neighbors. Each villager was looked at as a human being who had suffered greatly and was only trying to survive. So together they all began the journey to overcome their struggles and get through each day.
While the villagers have faced hardships that many of us, cannot come close to fathoming, there is so much we can take from it. In my proposal for the Kenan Summer Fellows Program, I described my experiences working with Latino migrant workers in my community. One of the key things that enabled me to relate to them was telling stories. Although they were from many different countries and cultures that were so different from my own, when it came down to it, we were the same. We all had family we cared about, goals we wanted to achieve, and stories we could relate to in some way. A person can still laugh or cry, or have the same emotions, regardless of where they are from—its part of humanity. If we could all see this more often, many of our problems would be eliminated. All it takes is looking at a person in their simplest form—a human with the ability to feel emotions. Continue reading
In Jonathan Lear’s book, Radical Hope, the story of the Crow tribe leader, Plenty Coups, and his ability to lead the tribe to survival after facing cultural devastation is highlighted. The whole story focuses on Plenty Coups’ statement that “When the buffalo went away the hearts of my people fell to the ground and they could not lift them up again. After this nothing happened.” Lear analyzed the actions of Plenty Coups and the tribe to discover what actually did happen and how they were able to keep hope after their way of life ended.
Over the past six weeks this is one of the main things I have been trying to do in Kagoma Gate. Many of the villagers have left their lives that they have always known—leaving their home villages, family and friends whether because of death or necessity to leave, and arrived in a completely foreign place with no known expectations. From the outside, just as many people claim the villagers of Kagoma Gate have no hope, people may also claim that after moving to Kagoma Gate “nothing happened”.
I have learned, though, that very much has happened. Continue reading
One of the things that makes Kagoma Gate so unique and intriguing is the villagers’ ability to see past their different origins and cultures and live among each other peacefully. However, when I ask the villagers about this diversity, it appears to be an irrelevant question to them. One of the questions I ask is what is it like living among people from so many different places such as Rwanda, Sudan, Congo, ect. All of them say it does not bother them. Based on observations I believe this to be genuinely true.
An example of this is the interview setting of one of the elders from Burundi. He did not remember his age but assumed he was around 70 years old. Being his age, especially after all the struggles he has overcome throughout his years, his body was not only exhausted but his mind too. It was difficult for him to understand and answer questions. Slowly, villagers including one of chief’s of the village and his neighbors began to stand and sit near us talking. At first I thought of asking if they could stay back for privacy but I noticed that the old man became more comfortable with them there and they even helped to translate the questions in to ways the man understood better. With their help, the elder provided more thorough responses.
The elder told me that his biggest challenge occurs when he falls sick but his neighbor continues to help him. Continue reading
Throughout my time here in Uganda, when I tell people who are living near Kagoma Gate about my project, they often immediately say “Oh! They have no hope!” But throughout my own experiences with the actual villagers of Kagoma Gate, I have found that to not be true. The villagers so clearly have hope. In fact, many of the people I have spoken to have even said that Kagoma Gate is a good place to live and although they have struggles, their outlook on life is positive.
As I explained in my last blog, many of the founders of Kagoma Gate established the village after they broke their labor contract by having a spouse. People who have more recently arrived in Kagoma Gate have said to come for the same reason. Every time I go to Kagoma Gate and speak with more people and observe, the importance of family becomes more and more evident. A main purpose of Kagoma Gate is a place for spouses/families to live together. I have asked many villagers what their biggest hope/wish/dream is and the most common answers are to either see their children go to school or to return home to their family. Family always is a factor when hope is brought up.
I interviewed one lady this week who has been the only villager to state that she has no hope. Continue reading
Before I left for Uganda to begin my research, I had to receive Institutional Review Board approval from Duke because I was going to be working with human subjects. As part of this protocol, I had to make a pretty in depth outline of what my interviews would be like, including specific questions. I created categories of general background, history before Kagoma Gate, working conditions, the establishment of Kagoma Gate, the concept of radical hope, and the future. Within these categories I had many questions. This is what I have been using as a guide for my interviews, however, for the coming interviews I have—whether repeat or new people, I have realized it will be necessary to really focus on just one category at a time to truly discover what makes Kagoma Gate so unique. Continue reading