Maisha, originally a piggy-bank in the shape of an orange elephant, was given to me in April 2011 when I was in the process of fundraising for my volunteer trip to Gulu, Uganda. The person who gave it to me (an African himself) wanted me to name her…hence, the story of Maisha began:
“My name is Maisha. It means ‘life’ in Swahili. I was entitled to this name because I have brought life, joy, and love to many people’s lives around me over the past year.
Since the time of my birth, I desired to go back to my home land, Africa, though not sure of where I exactly belonged in that vast red soil. Finally, I reached a part of this land in July 2011, called Uganda, and spent 2 months and 23 days there. I have spent most of my time in a small village called Gulu, and the rest in Kampala, and Jinja.
I slept in a small hut with many people, lived in a crowded compound which was later on called commune, met many people from different tribes, and mostly ate posho, beans, cassava, rice, chapati, goat meat, and maze everyday. I spoke the language of Lwo in Gulu, an Acholi region, and learnt a bit of Luganda in Kampala, though I wasn’t as good in that language as I was in Lwo. I was called Munu or Munzungu many times which meant white person as a result of spending a lot of time with people from the West. This saddened me since my color was orange and not white but I decided that I had a black soul indeed, and deserved to be called an Ochol, a black person.
I wish to go back one day to meet my friends again who have become my family. Until then, I will be living in Montreal, Canada, a very very cold land. Yet, I am still the same elephant with the bright orange color hearing the sound of a rustling in the mango trees. Now I would like to show you what I have experienced in my home land, and thus kindly ask you to follow my footsteps into the memories of this unforgettable journey.”