Wednesday, December 2, 2015

"Once upon a time..." - it's how all good stories begin

Where to from here? After all the adventure, inspiration and joy of the past 12 days, what will my next project or goal be?

It has been a question that occupied much of the 17 hours spent in the plane on the way home. Ideas would randomly pop into my head as I scanned the viewing menu on the in-flight entertainment console or the food menu on the little cards handed out at the beginning of the journey.

I think, however, the lasting legacy of my time in Uganda is a reminder of the power of the story. Stories shape our society and ourselves. We all have them to tell and we can all draw inspiration from the tales lived out by others. Brodie loved hearing stories and we both loved telling them to him. So the answer to the question of 'what's next', somehow had to do with stories.

Some of you may not be surprised to hear me describe myself as a story teller. It's why I became a journalist, all those years ago. It's why I serve as a volunteer Community Correspondent now, for the local public broadcasting radio station (in Brisbane, it's called 612ABC Radio). And it's why I continue to use social media so extensively (including this blog). Through all of these mediums, I want to help others give voice to their stories.

They say that we all have a book inside us. Celena is part of a Writing Group where people aspire to show the truth of that expression each time they gather (and in the moments when they are not gathered as well.) I have long reflected on what my first (how's that for optimism?) book might be about, what form it might take, what topic or genre it would emerge from.

And now Uganda has provided the answer. In so many ways, the time spent in the heart of Africa was about witnessing the stories of this beautiful nation and its even more gorgeous people. The smiles and hugs, the landscape and history, the clan names and customs, were the words and I was the blank page upon which they became written.

This blog, therefore, is my humble announcement that I would like to compile a book that offers reflections on why Africa is so precious to so many people. (The reference to the 'precious' nature of the continent is, in itself, a reference to the oft-cited description of Uganda as 'the pearl of Africa'.) I know many people who have been to the continent and come away committed to helping transform a particular part of it. Some of you have made a vocation out of serving the people of this part of the world. Others have come from there and are now serving in other parts of the world, as graciously and generously as those who welcomed and hosted us during our visit.

If you are one of these people, I hope you might consider contributing. I do not claim to be able to tell all the story of this special place; one visit could hardly do it justice. However, I hope you might do me the honour of inviting you to share your particular African story.

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