It's hard to believe how fast these last seven weeks flew by. Reflecting upon my many adventures in East Africa, I am quite taken aback. I’m actually replaying some of the moments in my head and am appalled that it was actually me experiencing each and every moment, each and every day!
Sitting here in the comfort of my home in Oakville, I am extremely thankful for the wonderful experience that was this trip, and for the many learnings that I’ve come home with. Since I’ve reached safe and sound, I thought it would be appropriate, in this final post, to write a sort of reflection in the form of many thanks, to close this blog.
First and foremost, thanks to my family. Not only for encouraging me to embark on this trip of a lifetime, but for their tremendous progress in life! It was so incredibly emotional for me to visit the birthplaces of my parents, and to try and grasp the life they had back in Uganda. I’ve heard many stories about the expulsion of all Asians from Uganda by then President Idi Amin back in 1972, but seeing the remains of bombed buildings, and travelling along the same bumpy roads that they travelled some 41 years ago to flee the country painted a clearer picture of the horrors they faced as children. Knowing that they came to Canada as refugees, with next to nothing, and seeing where they are now, makes me extremely grateful. Their hard work, motivation for success, and sheer drive to ensure that their children never had to experience the same financial situation they did as refugees is unparalleled. I can only imagine the change in lifestyle that they were faced with, and I am so thankful to my parents and my grandparents for committing to establishing themselves soundly in Canada, and for truly making this our home for generations to come.
“Thank you for the knowledge you gave us and the support. And thank you for the certificate, it was a surprise to me! Thank you so much for the good work.”
“I thank you for everything you taught us and the certificate. May God protect all of you… We love you.”
“We miss you a lot; greetings from all your friends and brothers. Even though you’ve left us, we still love you!”
It is amazing how affectionate the students are at SFB; their words of love and blessings will stay with me forever. I learnt from reading their emails how important it is to share with our loved ones how much they mean to us, as even a simple message can often make their day.
Far from possessing individualistic attitudes were the many people who became like family to me over the course of the trip. From Aleena, Samir and their family in Kigali taking such great care of me, to Rehman and his mother for always driving me home after prayers, to the Jamat Bhais and members of the congregation in Masaka, Kampala, Kigali and Zanzibar, ensuring that I was safe, had a place to stay and felt right at home, to Aleeda and Naziha’s family in Nairobi, for adopting me for the week and letting me experience life over there. Alshana, one of my roommates from London who happens to be from Nairobi, and a really great friend of mine since first year, had written something in my going away book that stuck with me as I was leaving. She had said she was sorry that she could not be in Nairobi while I was visiting, but asked me to really experience the city, and to fall in love with the land of my sisters. She really has become a sister to me, as has Naziha, and all of the members of our "house family" in London. I am so fortunate to have “siblings” living all over the world, and now extended families as well, just all of the aforementioned people have become. They all contributed to the wonderful experience that I had, and really did make me fall in love with the land of my sisters.
Although it seems quite obvious and important to keep this in mind when travelling, and I am fortunate that my parents absolutely love to travel, so my siblings and I have been lucky to have seen many remote parts of the world, being bitten by the travel bug at a very young age, it is still an important learning from this trip: to always keep an open mind.
With the positive attitude and open mind, I enjoyed all of the very new experiences in East Africa. My aunt actually stopped reading the blog as she said I was being too adventurous and scaring her with my tales of the moto-taxis, the wandering on the streets alone, and the thought of being kidnapped! I got home and received a lecture from her, but it was all out of love, and I assured her that I was being safe and cautious in all my endeavours and adventures. That being said however, I have returned home and am quite thankful for Canadian living. There are a lot of things that we take for granted here, which I will definitely appreciate a tad more going forward. For example, being able to take hot showers whenever we so choose (ie. without having to switch on the hot water heater one hour before our desired shower time, let alone having to think whether one’s present living facility has a hot water heater at all) is commonplace here, but in fact would be a luxury for most people in the developing world. In addition, not having to worry about bugs in the food, nor frequent power outages during the day are conveniences we are fortunate to posses. I am grateful to have been made aware of such realities, so that I may be more conscious of how fortunate we are here, and to place greater value on these luxuries we really do have.
I am also thankful to have experienced an important element of my cultural background! Tasting the foods which contribute to my home’s East African-Indian fusion cuisine was so exciting for me, and trying everything was such a treat! The mandazis, fruits, spices, and barbecued meats were all delicious, and gave me a sense of where a big influence in my family’s diet comes from.
What’s next? Appreciating all of the adventures in life.Well, I have been enjoying spending time with my family, now that my brother, Malik, has returned home for the summer after writing his LSAT, and my sister, Aleeza, is finishing up her grade ten exams. The three of us and my parents are very close, and it’s been a blast reuniting with each other, sharing lots of stories and laughs over many cups of chai and cookies late at night.
I made it home in time for my convocation, and am proud to say that I’m officially done my HBA (Honours Business Administration)!
Doha GOALS (Gathering of all Leaders in Sport) conference in December 2012, looking at ways which sport can influence development, in addition to giving me the opportunity to teach basic budgeting and enhance the operations of a microfinance institution in rural Honduras in February 2013, and of course this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to teach an undergraduate course in business decision making in Kigali, Rwanda. I'm super thankful to Professor Haggerty for building Ivey's presence in Africa, and for giving me the opportunity to teach abroad. It truly was the best way to end an amazing undergraduate career. I learnt a ton during my time at Ivey, both inside and outside of the classroom and will cherish the memories forever. It was a lovely day and a joyous occasion for the family - I was all smiles the entire day!
After the course, I will do a bit of travelling before returning home to sort out some “real world” stuff ahead of starting work full-time in September in downtown Toronto. I will continue to be engaged in my various volunteer initiatives and numerous extra-curriculars on the side, and look forward to the adventures that navigating the corporate world as a young, creative mind might entail.
My brother has encouraged me to create another blog and post regularly about life’s wonderful adventures in my perspective, but until then, this is it! I will let you know if that ever happens, or even if I happen to start sharing my songs online, but in the meanwhile, feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and please do keep in touch! Thanks again for being part of my seven week experience; it truly was an unforgettable Adventure in Africa!