Yesterday, I returned back from Gulu on an uncomfortable six hour bus ride. This road full of potholes and speed bumps is the best method of going to and from the Northern Uganda, the notorious region that has in many ways been stripped of its humanity in the past 21 years of civil war. I spent my weekend here, learning more personally what I’ve been reading about for months.
            As we approached Gulu, my teammates and I who have been working in Kampala discussed how we felt as if we were finally entering “the third world.” In Kampala I have never felt like I’m living in a typical third world country; instead it seemed like a very different version of my home town, Chicago. There are the poor, and though the conditions of the poor in Chicago differ from the conditions of the poor in Kampala, they live nearly side-by-side with the rich. Comparatively to those Chicagoans who live in multimillion dollar apartments on Lake Shore Drive, there are people in Kampala who are exempt from power outages and who go to ritzy country clubs to swim on Saturdays.
            As we neared Gulu, however, I saw a more uniform, organized sort of poverty. There was a more equal level of malnourishment and hardship across the board. We visited an IDP camp that, again, blew away any image I’d previously had. At first, the camp looked easier to live in than Namuwongo, the urban slum of Kampala where we work. It was clean, there was no stagnant water anywhere, and structure and leadership which Namuwongo lacks existed in the camp. Yet the people of the Koro IDP camp have different problems than Namuwongo dwellers; the camp offered no solution to water shortages, and no capitol city to run to in dire emergencies.
            In conclusion, Kampala has its major problems, but there is a reason that Namuwongo was created, for people fleeing the North needed somewhere to go.