Vilate Ssempala is the first to say her 31 years have been anything but typical. Life in Salt Lake City started out as the 34th of her dad's 47 children.
“Pretty typical polygamist child, homeschooled, most of us don't really get much of an education,” she said.
But Vilate wanted something different and graduated from high school, then got an internship this summer in Uganda.
“Just randomly saw an internship posted on Facebook in Uganda in a little tiny village,” she said. “As soon as I saw it I just knew I was going.”
Africa promised to broaden her horizons especially when it came to race.
“Growing up here obviously I hadn't associated a lot with black people in fact I shook hands with a black person for the first time a week before I left,” said Vilate. “If you had ever asked me if I would marry a black person I’d say absolutely not, not over my dead body.”
But to her own surprise, once in country she immediately met a Ugandan man named Joseph and fell in love. Within two months they were married and a baby was on the way.
But that's where the fairy tale ends.
“Just couldn't eat, couldn’t stop throwing up, I lost a lot of weight,” she said. Sickness forced Vilate to come back to the U.S.-- leaving Joseph behind. Getting him a visa to join her is proving difficult. U.S. Immigration Services need accurate information on both of them which is tricky when you have a polygamous past.
“It's technically against the law to have more than one wife so the information put on our birth certificate wasn't always accurate,” she said.
Now Vilate waits hoping someday they can be husband, wife and parent together in the U.S.
“This whole process takes time that we don’t really have if it ends up taking a year I’m here by myself, a student, pregnant, having a baby during finals week and it's just not something I want to do,” she said.