The Grand Opening, by Kai Chen


September 21, 2009

Two days after my field visit at Nankoma, we went back to the little village for the grand opening of Narusacco (Nankoma Rual Saving and Credit Corporation). When we arrived at 11:30 AM, we were completely overwhelmed by the welcome committee of excited women and children from the village. The opening ceremony started with hours of music, dancing, and speeches on an open field on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. As the only non-Ugandan there (those people were not kidding when they said I was the first visitor from America), I had no idea what the people were talking about. I sat quietly under the tent with a big smile on my face and watched people rejoicing over the beautiful day despite the devastating poverty they live in. Even as a complete stranger and foreigner, I, too, felt their joy from their singing, dancing, and shouting. I couldn’t help but start wondering about lives, my own life and theirs.

What does it mean to be a human being? What does it take to laugh together, dance together, work together, and even live together despite the completely different worlds we are form? Tears slowly rolled down my cheeks as I was overcome by these emotions.

What makes us different from each other? What separates us? What keeps us from knowing, loving, and embracing each other?

Is it the color of our skin? Or the languages we speak? Or the vastly different cultures we live in?

At that moment, I didn’t feel any differences or barriers between us. We are just human beings, no more, no less. We all long to love and be loved. We all share the same hope, faith and the simplest joy in our lives.

We are the same. We are together. We are family.

I never felt so close to the truth, so close to the essence of humanity: Love.

The rest of the afternoon was just like any other opening ceremony. Mr. Liavala Haji, the Parliament Member from Bigiri district, came as the guest of honor and made a long speech about the importance of saving and how it would benefit the local economy. Another community leader made a joke on me by giving me an African name (Musoka) and said I would be given a Busoga woman, a house, and a land with cattle to live with the people at Nankoma forever.

I don’t think I would live in Nankoma, but I shall remember that Saturday afternoon forever.