Beatrice Pianetta, 25 years, from Corvino San Quirico (Pv)
Master’s degree in Philosophy, faculty of Letters and Philosophy, Milan campus
I hope to keep the images of the red dirt roads, the people walking and the boda-boda with me forever. Everything was amazing simply because it was unimaginable. Boda-boda are the Ugandan motorcycles that can be used as taxis to dart through the traffic. The first time I climbed on board one it was love at first sight. You could see the real Africa whizzing about on that bike with the wind in your face and no helmet on your head.
Mine and Martina’s experience at Bishop Cipriano Kihangire Nursery & Primary School in Kampala was full-on from day one. The only thing I wanted to do was to observe the children, their eyes and faces, their uniforms, exercise books, their behaviour. They welcomed us like nothing I have experienced before and in a way that only children can. In an instant they removed all barriers. I felt happy when they embraced me and touched me.
The children were inquisitive, enthusiastic and knowledgeable, they learned a lot of Italian words in just a few lessons and completely wrong footed me with all their questions. Like Gloria, in the 5th year of primary school, who on one of the first afternoons we spent together asked me how you say “orphans” in Italian. I told her and so she asked me if there were orphans in Italy. I said: “Yes”. With a perplexed look on her face she said that she thought families loved their children in Italy and didn’t get rid of them. I didn’t know what to say.
After my years of studying philosophy I wanted a simple life, a simplicity and tangibility that is only attainable when your only barrier is yourself. I returned home knowing that the red soil of Uganda will always be there waiting for me and that the next time I see Daniel, 2 years of age and the youngest child at the school, he will be a few years older and a few centimetres taller.