uganda bound in december(!) / by Maranie Staab

no amount of planning, talking or thinking about a trip makes it as real as the purchase of a plane ticket. for me, even with knowing myself as well as i do, and the knowledge that i will follow through, there is still always that huge sense of relief, joy and excitement (as well as the creeping knowledge in the back of your head that there is no going back) when i receive my confirmation flight itinerary. 

as you may have deduced from the title of this post, i will be going to uganda in december with the Project to End Human Trafficking (PEHT). myself and two other women from pittsburgh will be joining a small team in uganda and we will all be working together to complete a list of objectives and projects. i am beyond thrilled to be going as their photographer and as a volunteer in order to document our on the ground efforts in Mukono and the surrounding areas. 

for those of you who are not familiar, the Project to End Human Trafficking (PEHT) is a pittsburgh-based non-profit organization managed entirely by volunteers that works toward the prevention and elimination of trafficking in persons through awareness raising, direct service coordination, capacity building and collaboration with key stakeholders.

PEHT also has a branch in Uganda. over the past several years the Project to End Human Trafficking has built relationships with numerous human trafficking survivors in Mukono and has made significant strides in their local fight against trafficking. we have worked with the presidential anti-trafficking appointee, offered awareness training, technical assistance, educational funding, and supplies to community leaders who are acting locally to combat human trafficking.

while i depart on every trip with the knowledge that it will, very likely change me at the core in some way i know with even more certainty that uganda is going to alter how i view everything. i remember returning from turkey last year and for several weeks feeling as though everything was upside down and as though i had changed in ways that would be permanent and that would continue to reveal themselves in the days, weeks and months to come. in my short number of years i have learned simply that, if you allow yourself to have open eyes and an open mind (* important caveat) travel changes you. whether we choose to recognize it or not, we each leave marks behind as we move throughout life and in exchange life, travel and the world leaves their marks on each of us. 

“travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

here is to this adventure and to (many) more to come.