Clothing Drive Culture Shock

When Milly visited the United States in the fall of 2022, she returned to Uganda with multiple suitcases of donated items. It was a huge blessing to have clothing to bring back for the community at Kingsway, and we are so grateful for the generosity of the churches who participated in the clothing drive.

As Milly was sorting t-shirts and pants to take back with her, she was startled by the size of some of the garments which were donated. Why are American clothes so big?

It was because churches assumed that she would need them. In the West, poverty can mean surviving off food stamps, which usually buy cheap processed food. It is difficult to find healthy food options on a tight budget, so many become obese. This causes discrimination against people living in poverty, raising health concerns along with financial struggles.

Poverty in Uganda, however, is different, Milly pointed out. You never see a poor person who is overweight or obese. There the struggle is to find any food at all, regardless of its nutrition level.

Americans hardly realize the great blessing we have here, that regardless of one’s financial status, it’s not hard to avoid starving. We have a strong social net here. Conditions are much scarcer in Uganda. Many days people eat just one meal, and it is unclear where the next will come from.

This isn’t just true for Uganda. “Have you eaten?” is a common phrase for small talk in many countries in Asia. It’s the first thing a person says after greeting a friend. We chat about the weather, but meals are what much of the world chats about. It’s always good to check and see if a person is hungry, they assume.

It’s hard to imagine a reality where food is scarce and expensive. Gaining perspective is always the first step, and from there we ask the Lord to give us open hearts to how we can help. Donating to a clothing drive is a wonderful way to do that (thank you to everyone who did!), but it just might come with a bit of culture shock.

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