Monday, May 20, 2013

Skipping in Gulu

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend whom I met on my last trip here and a new friend that works as a nurse at a hospital in Gulu.  She has been in Uganda 7 months now and expressed some frustrations with the inefficiencies at her workplace.  I can only imagine how difficult it is working in a hospital in a third world country; the lack of cleanliness, reliable utilities, education, and proper supplies must be completely overwhelming.  As we were eating, I mentioned that I was helping my friend Joe Brocato (Unlikely Hero Productions), who was recently in Northern Uganda to film some of the work Aid Africa does in rural communities, and his colleague Tim Heath Leuzarder with a documentary about skipping.  The topic allowed the three of us to easily slide into a fun conversation about skipping and we all agreed that it was impossible to skip and be in a bad mood at the same time. My friend took the thought a step further and suggested action - she should skip into work at the hospital the next morning. She smiled and excitedly agreed to the task!

We met the next morning around 7:30 AM to drive her to work and experience what was to be the simplest magic I’ve ever seen. In the car, I asked her a few questions Joe had suggested to me, like “why do you think adults don’t skip?”  To that she replied, “I think it’s because they’ve forgotten, and that if you remind them, they will.” It was a perfect response because I think that’s exactly what happened with her; she had been immersed in work and all it’s difficult intricacies and had forgotten about some of the joys in life. She was smiling from ear-to-ear with anticipation when she got out of the car and this previously discouraged and energy-depleted nurse was suddenly full of energy as she began skipping toward the hospital where she was about to begin a long day at work. Her colleagues, I assume equally as frustrated as her, all started smiling and laughing and were obviously surprised by this high-energy output with which she was starting the day.

When we met the next Sunday for lunch, with her work colleagues that saw her skipping, they were inspired and made plans to skip to work together.  The conversation that had started the previous Sunday went so much further than I ever expected.  Oh the joy of skipping!

Soon after this, Maron (the volunteer from the USA) and I were working with Aid Africa in one of the rural villages outside of Gulu and experiencing a few of the many challenges that occur in the field - so, we decided it was a good time to get some of the village kids skipping. Since the best way to get kids to do anything is to do it yourself, we skipped around to get them to follow us. Not surprisingly, we experienced the same transformation from stress to pure joy. More importantly, we discovered a deeper bond with these kids. We were transported back to our childhood, a time free of our adult burdens and, if just for a few minutes, we experienced pure joy. My only question afterwards was, "Why haven’t I been skipping more often?" I think I simply forgot.

The kids looking at pictures of themselves and the skipping video we had just taken (photo by Maron)

Back at the office, I interviewed Isaac. When I asked him if he’d like to skip, he was hesitant, but agreed to skip if I would do it with him.  We laughed, both feeling very silly, which made us laugh even more.  Then Peter, the Executive Director of Aid Africa, walked out after we finished and I asked him if he’d also like to skip - he started skipping instantly!  With each new opportunity to skip, to feel the unadulterated joy, I am now convinced that skipping is a powerful and transformative tool. Taking only a few minutes of my time to skip and talk to people about skipping has brought so much joy to my journey in Uganda.  Thanks to Unlikely Hero Productions for working on such a great project and sharing it with me so that I can share it with others!

To read more about the documentary, visit


  1. Great post Kyla!! Thank you so much for this. Great great great!


  2. aww ;) thats so sweet kyla. i remember about a month a go trying to show theo how to skip and it did make me happy for a second! such sweet story! Love you!