Last summer, my friend, Stepha, and I realized we were due for an adventure. We didn’t just want to venture somewhere blindly, though; we wanted to travel somewhere intentionally, and with purpose. Stepha had a good friend who was living and working in Uganda and we decided that would be a good place – and a good opportunity – for us to explore. I had previously lived in Kenya for two years working in photojournalism and always love to travel back to the region.
Once we started to plan our trip, I reached out to the media team I used to work with and asked if there were any stories that they wanted documented – and there were! It was fate. Stepha and I headed off, first spending a week traveling through Paris and Brussels. We then arrived in Uganda, where Stepha headed off on a safari while I pursued my own adventure. Based in the capital city of Kampala, I began photographing two stories on two different schools for children with special needs.
My first day Kampala was overwhelming. I didn’t know anyone and felt disoriented. I quickly realized that I had a decision to make, though: I could be paralyzed by fear and wait in the compound until I was contacted by someone I was meant to photograph, or I could push that fear aside, jump on the back of a Boda – motorcycle – and explore the city. Whenever I have a decision to make, I always ask myself: “what will make the better story?” Let’s just say that was a great Boda ride!
I found Uganda to be a great mix of Kenya and Rwanda – two countries I have spent time in and love. Kampala had the city feel of Nairobi – urban and bustling – but the hills of Kigali – lush and green. Lake Victoria was stunning with all the fishing villages scattered around the shoreline.
One weekend, we decided to rent a boat and go fishing on Lake Victoria. The boat was old and rickety and sprung a leak almost immediately after we left the shore. Nevertheless, we spent hours out on the water trying to catch our dinner. I remember listening to the soundtrack from Pirates of the Caribbean.
The fisherman who accompanied us kept making fun of our western fishing poles and taught us all about the nets they use. By time we got back to shore, the whole community was gathered to see what we caught with our tiny fishing poles. They said that they were hoping we’d be responsible for our own catch, but we let them know that (clearly!) on Lake Victoria, the fishermen knew best. It was just one of those days – one of those experiences – that will stick with you forever.