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September 17, 2009 - Image 54

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2009-09-17

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Exploring Uganda from page 52

"In 2009, there are still people that
live in mud huts with thatched roofs,
no electricity and no running water,"
Rob said. "I didn't expect them to be
that behind the United States?'
Pam said, "I guess when I pictured
in my mind a Jewish community, I
knew it wasn't going to look like West
Bloomfield, but I wasn't expecting mud
huts and a couple of goats running
around outside?'
Though they're poor, they're inde-
pendent people who set small goals for
themselves, Rob said.
Julie expressed frustration at the
Ugandans' lack of opportunities.
"So many Ugandans are very smart?'
she said. "They have all these great
ideas, and so much ambition, but it's
going to die out because they have no
where to put it?'
Although they may not attend col-
lege or become successful professionals,
Danny said he could relate to the teens.
"Even though we were from different
continents, I still felt a connection with
kids my age," he said.
Danny, who gave his outgrown bar
mitzvah suit to one of the boys, added
that they had a unique religious tie.
While visiting the Jewish community
was a highlight of the trip, Rob said one
of his favorite experiences was attend-

ing the empango — the annual
event honoring the king and queen of
the second largest tribe in Uganda.
Nearly 4,000 people attended the cer-
emony. Because the Kornfelds were the
only Americans, the king treated them
as speciitl guests and seated them next
to African dignitaries, Ugandan politi-
cians and the king of the Ivory Coast.
Rob was even asked to give a short
speech, in which he wished the king
prosperity and good fortune.
After the service, the king invited Rob
and Pam inside the palace, where he
showed them his 900-year-old throne.
As a gift, the Kornfelds presented him
with a book about Michigan and gave :a
Detroit Tigers baseball outfit to his son.
"It was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime
experience Rob said. "Even if we ever
go back to Africa, we're not going to get
invited to that again?'
Julie plans on returning to Uganda
after graduating from Northwestern,
possibly as part of a Fulbright Scholar
Program.
"I'm so excited to go back and see
the kids I worked with again," she said.
"They are what's going to draw me
back to Uganda?' 17

Stephanie Steinberg of Commerce

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