Today, May 16 is the third day we have had thunder and lightening rains… the rain has come down from the heavens as if to provide everyone with a bucket shower…. the skies are grey like those in Vancouver in November or early March but the temperature is over 70 degrees…. In spite of this warm temperature, I am cold. I feel the coolness right through to my bones….. I am wearing a sweater and a light jacket all the day long…. and this evening I have socks on for the first time since arriving in Kibaale….

But the question is why are they carrying their shoes?

There are no paved roads or sidewalks in Kibaale and today, the red dirt is covered with hundreds and thousands of small, medium and large puddles of bright terracotta water. This morning when the rain has started to let up, I slowly walked towards the clinic, trying very hard to step between the puddles but I nearly slipped and fell a few times. The ground was very soft and soggy. At one point, I stopped to plan my next few steps and looked back to see each of my footsteps in the mud. The last hundred yards to the clinic were the most challenging…. I was focused on watching each of my steps…. it was when I got to the entrance to the clinic that I looked up and saw many students arriving late for class… but most of them were carrying their shoes. I looked down at my shoes and they were covered in mud…. and since I was wearing crocs, the mud had oozed through the holes and my feet were covered in mud. I thought that maybe the idea of walking to the clinic in bare feet may have been a great idea… I would have good traction and this way my crocs would be clean. All I had to do was wash my feet. I may still try walking in the mud in my bare feet and see if there is truly some good traction……..

But that was not why the students were carrying their shoes…. they were protecting their shoes from getting wet…. and in fact many would rather go barefoot then wear shoes…. could it be that they do not have the same opportunity to have shoes properly fitted like we have in Canada and in the USA. In this part of Uganda, there are no shoes stores…. on Market Mondays, a traveling sales man comes with sacks and sacks of shoes and that is how they are bought.

I can not forget the picture I saw this morning the very young and slightly older students walking bare foot through the mud in the pouring rain carrying their shoes to school. As much as I wanted to laugh…. I also wanted to cry.