Sometimes in the evening I have to go for a walk to clear my mind after a busy day. Last night I came upon a group of neighbors who were chatting and tending to their cooking fire. They invited me to sit with them.
The old woman is one of our distant relatives and is caring for her grandchildren. She used to own a small plot of land across the street until one of her sons decided to convince her to sell the plot and made promises of building a new home somewhere else close by. My husband advised her against it but she wanted to please her son. We watched as she relinquished the little she owned to her son. She relocated to a smaller shabbier rental house a few kilometers away. She reported how the son had purchased a car and had come to visit her. Yet, the son failed to buy her a new plot and build a house. He had used the money for other things. These are the way things go in Uganda. This narrative repeats itself more often than those with better outcomes. Yet everyone takes a risk, or perhaps a gamble at reaching for something more–something better.
The old woman continues to live alone, raising her son’s children and others. Her son’s faithless behavior does not change her own faithfulness. I notice the gomesi (dress) she is wearing is the same one she was wearing 5 years ago.
They asked about the work I was doing, because they have seen me travel to Mukono daily. I told them about working for UCU and eLearning. Since Covid, many have come to understand that schooling can be done on a computer.
Eventually, the conversation turned to the devices I was carrying: my cellphone and charger. My neighbors asked questions. The old man counted the number of apps I had on the front page. I then blew him away, when I swiped to the 5 other pages full of apps. I took their photos (above) and they reviewed the photos with fascination. They asked about how much this device costs. I quoted them about $100-200. I told them how I use this device for work and about how one could use the device to go to school. I also told them about how two schools nearby use the devices to teach. They asked questions and discussed with interest.
Next time, I will have a math app for their child to work on. I could kick myself that I have not thought of doing this before.