I’ve always thought that I was aware of other people’s struggles; that I felt compassion for those who had less than I did, therefore I believed I was grateful for everything I had. After spending time in Uganda, I realized I didn’t have any comprehension of the struggle some people live with their entire life, and I had no idea how blessed I was with the life I had been given. The only way to honestly sum up my experience is to call it a much needed slap in the face.

From my past four years living in Las Vegas, poverty was something I thought I knew. Everyday you see homeless people standing on the side of the road begging for money, but I didn’t know it could get any lower than that until I arrived in Jinja, Uganda. Children ran everywhere with tattered clothing, shoes many sizes too small, babies completely naked, and my heart ran away with them. What shocked me the most was the lack, or sometimes complete absence, of hygiene. The people of these villages are so poor they can’t afford soap, which means they only use water to rinse their hands off after using the restroom. In the United States we would consider that extremely unsanitary. It’s simply not part of their culture to use soap, and when they have an opportunity to, their excitement is comparable to well off kids living in the suburbs of America on Christmas morning. The amount of appreciation shows on their face clear as day.

My heart has never hurt to the extent that it did while traveling in Uganda, but it was the most humbling experience I’ll probably ever have. I can’t show how grateful I am for Health 2 Humanity allowing me to accompany them on this trip. It taught me what it truly feels like to be blessed with a life of abundance, and the importance of creating an awareness of good hygiene around the world. I’ll never look at a bar of soap the same ever again.