Written by Cora Xiao, Business Intern
Now in the last week of my internship with Shanti, reflecting back on my beginning at Shanti is quite interesting. Over the course of my three months here, small changes have happened without my being aware of how much their accumulation has changed me. Having worked and lived with both locals and other interns from abroad, I’ve had my understanding of culture and relationships evolve in an inexplicable way.
I never thought it possible, but Shanti has showed me my maternal side. Before my time in Uganda, I couldn’t imagine myself as a mother or wife but now- somehow- I know that one day I would love to be a family-maker. Shanti has shown me that motherhood is so beautiful, that women are strong, and that you don’t lose yourself when you learn to love a child. Or maybe it’s just all the super-cute babies here in Uganda.
What I will miss most are the subtle moments. Times when I can just sit and work in the WIGG hut engulfed in the sounds of whirring sewing machines and feel completely relaxed. I remember in the beginning I was always hyper-sensitive to how I acted and looked at Shanti, but now I know this is a place free from judgment and full of love for all my weird quirks and quarks. This is friendship. To be oneself and to be accepted for it. It’s funny that one can be so far from home and yet find this level of comfort.
Shanti does so much for the local community, and has also done so much for me. I think before I didn’t know how to be proud about being a woman. The legacy of a paternalistic culture and the veiled cues that it nurtures had me feeling that women were inferior, somehow less deserving because they were not strong- emotionally nor physically. I couldn’t put this feeling into words then but now I realize that this is exactly how I was. But somehow now I have put a distance between my mindset then and now, somehow now I know that strength and womanhood are intertwined.