Before I moved to Uganda I knew there would be a cost to an overseas move. People told me that. But as November came closer and closer and the number of shifts I had left to work became smaller and smaller, the pull and the draw here far outweighed my desire to stay. It was almost like an invisible magnet was slowly and surely pulling me to Mbale. It wasn’t that I didn’t love my family or friends or my job in the UK. It was that I’d had itchy feet and a heart longing for a different type of adventure for a long time. For longer than I could remember.
When the plane touched down on the runway in Entebbe, whilst there were nerves and anticipation there was also excitement and almost a sense of relief. Of course it took a while to adjust but I immediately loved my new home, my new workplace and my new colleagues. I fell in love with the people I met, the outstanding beauty of the green around me, the way that the culture focuses primarily on people and community.
People would ask me if I missed the UK and whilst I of course miss my family and friends immensely, there’s something which feels right, deep in my heart, about being here. A sense of peace. A sense of being in a new home.
But here it is, here’s my cost.
I heard that I lost someone. Someone I didn’t see often, but someone I held dear. We met up on family occasions and for occasional Sunday lunches. She never missed a birthday card or a Christmas card with a beautiful hand written note tucked inside.
She was a cheerleader, always interested in everything I was doing, encouraging me in everything I was involved in whether that was school work, university choices, trips abroad, my midwifery career, and the list goes on. When I bought my flat she was someone I wrote to and who was keen to see photos, ‘ooh’ing and ‘ahh’ing over my choice of decor. After I told her I was moving to Uganda, I received a card through the post with a cut out of an article about Uganda which she had found and saved from her magazine. She was someone who was keenly interested in the sanitary pad project I promoted, not just because she was passionate about equal opportunity, but also because she cared about me. And this wasn’t just with me. This was how she valued and cared for all of those around her.
So here it is, here’s my cost.
Not only is it a cost in losing someone I hold dear, so far from home, and unable to grieve in person with my family but also it’s a realisation of the continued changes in the lives of my friends and family at home. I know it sounds silly. I know that the lives of my friends and family continue, just as mine does, but somehow when I’m living in a different county, in such a different setting, it’s easy to think that the lives of those I care about are somehow on pause, ready to miraculously resume when I step off the plane in December.
But here it is, a stark reminder that this is not the case. When I go home, there will be one less person to see, one less person to visit, one less card to write.
Rightly, as much as my life will have changed, the lives of those I love will have also changed and I will need to learn how to fit back into those changes.