Culture

Christa Preston- life in Africa

 

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Photograph provided by Christa Preston

What brought you to Africa?

One year ago I moved away from my home, my friends, my job and my husband to pursue a dream I’ve had of teaching special education in Uganda. The decision was part desire to dent my bucket list but mostly because I was surrounded by friends and a husband who risked everything to pursue their passions. It was daunting as I’d never lived in another country before and I had never visited Uganda…

I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea what I would be capable of. Now I’m founding a non-profit and building a school based on a mission and a passion that had been an undertone in my life since I was young. I’d love to say it was all because of inspiration, happy thoughts, well wishes, and all that jazz that drove me. But the reality is the bumps in the road, the frustration, and the necessity for change “even if I had to do it my damn self” are what did it.

Your everyday life in Uganda? What are you specifically involved in…

My day starts with sun rise over the lake, which I enjoy on my commute to school on the back of a boca-boda (small motorbike). As I cross the field from the road to the school I still hold my breath as I pass between the long horn bulls or laugh as the goats walk with me. When I arrive at Entebbe Children’s Welfare school I’m greeted by a mob of smiling children singing the chant “teacher, teacher!”  Lunch is the same thing eaten everyday by every student in Uganda. Posho (corn flour and water) and beans. But what stands out every day is the kids. They never cease to amaze me, frustrate me, and overall make my day.

What advice do you have for people who want to make changes in the world, but are afraid of making that initial jump (getting out of their comfort zone, leaving their jobs, ect…

Step 1: Create a bucket list. Step 2: Share you bucket list, with everyone. If it’s something you are a bit afraid to do that is a good sign. By sharing the idea you can get advice and give the idea validity. The peer pressure to go through with it helps a bit too. Plus as you check off each interest on your list you might just stumble on your passion.

What can those who wish to stay in the States do to help these special needs children in Uganda…

Everyone has a unique skills that they can contribute. I founded the Oliva Project to help the children in Uganda find theirs. You can help support these children by contributing your skill to the project. Perhaps it is a skill like teaching, marketing, etc, or time or donations. To speak in tech, the Oliva Project is the platform, you can provide the apps to make it something incredible. We all have the ability to actually change the lives of these children

You have made a positive impact on these children’s lives. What impact have they made on your life…

When I leave this school these children might remember me for a year, two if I’m lucky. I will remember them for the rest of my life. They have changed me. First they have helped me realize what passion is. Honestly I didn’t know what it was before this year. I understood the concept. I saw others running full force after theirs but I didn’t really understand why or how someone could pursue something so whole heartedly, move everything else to the back burner. I do now. Second, forgive, immediately. Once someone apologizes you have to accept it and move on. Third, never underestimate people, they will surprise you. Fourth, smile. Big, broad, toothy smiles, because you never know whose day you’re changing. Fifth and finally, they have shown me how to overcome adversity, the key is to embrace what makes you different for better or for worse.

Women in Africa…

If you want to understand the role of women in Africa look to the lions. The lioness hunt, they care for the animals, they do it all but the lion gets the credit as king of the jungle. Women own most of the small businesses. Women drive change. Women do all this but they don’t ask for the credit, they don’t demand the respect. Yet several times I’ve heard two sentiments that have shadow this, “A man has to make the decision, at least in public,” and the worst of all “You know men, they take what they want.” It’s clear that no matter where we are in the world women need to stick together, empower each other and most importantly brag about one another so people are forced to see everything we do.

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Christa on left. Photograph provided by Christa Preston.

The interview was conducted by Bruna Petrillo.

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3 thoughts on “Christa Preston- life in Africa

  1. Margaret Dugan says:

    I am so incredibly proud of you Christa. I would never have believed as you ate cake mix from the box that you would ever get this far. Love and kisses …Grandma

  2. FORTUNATE IRANKUNDA. says:

    am just empowered with your life in my country we almost share the same dream and the fact that we met i hope ends will meet.am even more inspired that i have gained my strength to meet my dream of BUILDING FUTURES THROUGH RUGBY TO TALENTED VULNERABLE CHILDREN IN UGANDA ESPECIALLY GIRLS.

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