the pearl of africa #bloghope

Uganda is beautiful.  “The pearl of Africa.” And it does gleam. Lush trees line the hillside. There are numerous fields of sugar cane, of tea, of coffee. Hibiscus flowers bloom among dark leaves. Trees drop jackfruit — the size of my head — to the ground. The avocado trees produce the largest, best tasting I’ve ever had. There are mangoes upon mangoes and pineapple, syrupy sweet, much better than anything I could get at home.

The Nile rolls past, through the rolling hills to meet Lake Victoria, which stretches out endlessly to a horizon. Birds, and monkeys chatter at each other, vying for fruit, from branches.

Ugandan people are just as stunning. Tall and beautiful, who grasp both of your hands when they meet you, who ask for your name and what you think of their country. And you can’t help but tell them, over and over, that it is truly so beautiful.

“It gorgeous,” you say. “Your pearl of Africa, it is wonderful.”

And yet, this pearl of Africa is cracked. Amidst the green, green hills, and in the red dirt of Uganda, is what I can only describe as abject poverty.

Tiny concrete houses have windows and doorways that gape open like holes in a mouth where there should be teeth. Trash covers the sides of the road, piling up along the potholes the mar the street. The water carries any number of diseases, the many mosquitoes, carry even more. There are HIV-positive babies and grandmothers who taken on 8, 9, 10 children.

The kids you meet, the ones that grin and wave at the van as you pull up, are dirty. Their shirts are ripped and torn, or are way too big for them. Their feet are bare, and in between their toes you can see infection. The little boy getting his feet taken care of, he looks like he’s only 6. He has spindly legs and an engaging smile. He’s actually 10, but like many of the kids, he's on the small side. 
I don’t know what to make of this contradiction. I go back and forth. I can’t help but point out the monkeys, or the flowers in bright hues but, then, I can’t ignore the baby, sitting naked in the dirt. I can’t get the image of Russell out of my mind, who bit his lip to hold in his tears as Annette, one of the Ugandans who help Sole Hope, dug out 17 jiggers—parasites—out of his feet.

I don’t know what to think about this beautiful, cracked pearl of Africa.

I am a member of the #blogHOPE team, a group of 8 bloggers here in Jinja, Uganda to share about jiggers, the stories of the kids suffering from jiggers, the teams here making a difference and the communities being transformed.

follow our trip on bloghope.org
and read the posts of the other bloggers on the trip: wynne | mo | carey | cara | logan | melissa 


want to help out? host a shoe-cutting party. learn more about how here


  1. These photos are beautiful and the project sounds incredible, heading over to check out more details now!

  2. gorgeous photos and a beautifully written post. wishing you the best there my friend!

  3. This is such a gorgeously written post, it brought me to tears. What you all are doing is truly beautiful. Maybe one day, with people like you, the crack in the pearl will be healed. Your photos and the stories behind them are truly beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. I wish you all the best while you serve.

  4. This is so beautifully written Erika. This journey you're on... it's amazing.

  5. This is beautiful, Erika. I love the tension in the last sentence and I pray as you're on this journey, God would bring you a way to begin making sense of the cracked pearl of Africa.

  6. your writing is so beautiful and so are the photos! praying for your time in Uganda!


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