Since childhood I have been fascinated with the idea of travelling and exploring the deepest corners of our world. I remember seeing one of the first ‘Incredible India‘ advert on a foreign TV channel and thinking how indeed incredible it would be to see an elephant or that colourfully dressed lady with brown skin. I also decided I’d visit places off the beaten track – I saw somewhere a documentary on Azerbaijan and decided that’s the place I will visit one day. I haven’t done that yet but I was lucky enough to start travelling outside Poland at a very early age. I’ve been travelling abroad with my parents and their friends and friends’ kids abroad, be it Croatia, Germany or France. At the age of 6 I joined the Polish Folkloristic Group ‘Wielkopolanie’ and soon after I joined them in promoting Polish culture and dance in various festivals around the world: Russia in 1997, Taiwan in 1999, Shanghai in 2006, most of Europe throughout my 12 years of dancing career. I left to study in the UK and pursued travels in and out of London: Malaysia, Australia, India, Europe again (you re-discover many places when you older!). Majority of my trips, like the majority of people, from let’s call it 1st world countries, were for pleasure and relax – you visit the prettiest and most interesting places according to your preferences and the Lonely Plant guide. Some of us like a luxury setting, some backpack and scale mountains, others prefer the big city thrill.
We often think we’re the hub of the universe. However, we’re only a smart part of the Big Rock. The privileged part of the world may I add. Huge percentage of population of the planet Earth lives in the ugly, lives in the dirt and poverty beyond our imagination. A cow dung hut, few pots, firewood and often behind a smile a pair of sad eyes – that’s what you see there and you find it hard to understand it, to comprehend this world that’s so different to yours. You begin to feel something shifting in you – you ask yourself questions: how did I not realise this earlier? I watch news, hear about the poverty, I know Africa..
Thanks to this experience you get to understand the emotions inside the people, the way the world is shaped for them, their unique beliefs and in what conditions they live and function in. If you travel and stay for a bit longer in places not advertised in a guide, not as a tourist with a fancy camera but as a human being you start to feel solidarity and an overwhelming need of help. You discover that to help is to simply be there and that’s often enough. I wondered before coming to Uganda whether I get the feeling that helping one person is only a drop in the ocean and that would put me off it. On the contrary – you feel like you in that moment you’re giving hope and a smile and the day before there was no hope and no smile.
I want to tell people about what I saw in Uganda – about the world which isn’t glamorous and glossy. I want to dedicate my time to search for ideas and solutions that would actually help them, even one person. I want to leave small footprints around this world. I’ll teach my children that giving is so much better than receiving, that to experience the world, travelling comfortably isn’t going to be enough. While working in the 3rd world countries might not suit everyone, I’d encourage people to find time to travel and experience the real dirty and ugly side of Big Rock even just once. I guarantee you won’t regret it.