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Farewell Uganda

by Greer Illingworth (JD '10),

My time in Uganda has now come to a close. I leave with a complicated sense of excitement and sadness. On one hand, I'm excited to return to the comforts of life in the US – a bed free of bugs, nice roads, reliable internet, and decent food. On the other hand, there is so much more that I still could and should do here. I know that if a stayed longer, I could supervise the completion of the court archive transformation and help Justice Lugayizi with some of the reform measures he is pushing. It is a difficult contradiction in thoughts; especially since I feel I have done more work that directly helps in my two months here than in the two years I worked in Washington, D.C. The only solace I can take from my conflicted thoughts is that the future relationship between Pepperdine and the Ugandan Judicature is bright.

But, although this is just the beginning for Pepperdine and Uganda that does not mean there are not ends. With ends comes goodbyes and I met with Justice Lugayizi for the final time of the summer. He had told Micheline and me that he had a gift for us. We were not really expecting anything to begin with, but he insisted. After we sat down, he walked over to his desk and took from a filing cabinet two small boxes. He walked back over to us, sat down, and handed one to each of us. We opened our respective box and each found a travel size Bible inside. On the inside flap, Justice Lugayizi had written his favorite verse – Joshua 1:8: "let this book of the law be ever on your lips and in your thoughts day and night, so that you may keep with care everything in it; then a blessing will be on all your way, and you will do well." He proceeded to tell us of the importance of faith in his life as a judge. He closed by praying that blessings be upon us in the future and that we may grow to become strong advocates for justice. I found the scene incredibly refreshing. It was such a sincere non-encumbered gesture. I kept thinking as he talked that this kind of thing would never happen in America. Micheline and I spent the next few minutes thanking him for the opportunity and exchanging contact information.

Our relationship with Justice Lugayizi had come a long way. At the start of the summer, things were somewhat awkward and uncomfortable. Neither of us knew what to think of or how quite to act around each other. Now we were good friends. With that meeting, our summer externship was at a close. In the evening, I caught my flight back to the US and left Uganda.