Out of my whole 4 months of staying in Uganda, the town that had the biggest impact on me was my stay in Kasese. It was there that world events took a great change in shape and the African perception of me as a white person changed dramatically (at least for those who had access to media).
Kasese was a week-long teaching project for Uganda Red Cross recruits to learn to assess and implement emergency planning in refugee camps and areas vulnerable to natural disasters. (Kasese was especially vulnerable to two factors, one being landslides from the old copper mines "Kilembe" above, empty but still causing problems, and the second not a natural disaster, but civil unrest in the neighbouring country - Kasese is on the border to Congo.
What really was the highlight was an afternoon spent with a group of children (my day was free anyway and I had done my bit of exploring around). I was able to give a geography lesson (even though our languages were different, we seemed to have an understanding of how far away I was from and how long I spent in the sky to get there (leaves on the ground do wonders in explaining world geography). I was able to teach a bit of physics (sort of) with a bottle of water, a rock, and a batch of keys (if the items ever made it to the ground), and then physical education - games of Red Rover and Adaptations. There was laughter and freedom to be a child for once. The feeling of being looked up to was great - even for one day, I made some lives better. I pull out the photos of the kids every now and then and I remember that day so clearly and I am curious how these kids are 3 years later - will they remember me?
As for the world change - I was the only white person in the town (let alone the bar) the night of the Twin Tower attacks (because of the time difference - we are ahead about 10 hours there). I could feel the room set their eyes on me. It was a feeling of pity and confusion, and vulnerability. The impact was incredible, the doubt and the fear - it took a while for things to sink in when I went back to the main town where I was stationed for my work and found that the welcomed feel I’d had when I came was quickly deteriorating.