Sunday, July 31, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Sleep - one of my favorite things as you now know - is often interrupted by an overeager rooster or a dog fight here or there, or an extraordinary amount of birds. Putting that aside I am usually up, mosquito net neatly tucked away and getting breakfast around 8:00 am. Recently it has been tea g-nut spread and bread or fried eggs, or crazy weird and dense but awesome fried pancakes.
Nine weeks has been plenty of time to develop a routine. My workday officially starts at 8:30, but let’s gets real; this is Africa. Twice I have shown up and been the only one until after 9! So around 8:25/8:30 I start to mosey up the road to ORUDE.
Internet access, lots of space, and a free and filling lunch buffet. ORUDE is pretty awesome. I've been spending a lot of that time researching community development, branding strategies and team building activities.
After lunch things get a little exciting. I hop on a matatu to Nakabango Stage right by my Sacco. It is a quaint space with electricity, but no Internet. Adjusting our program to be a training of trainers has simplified work so much. I began traveling the 40 minutes to Marusacco only twice a week and meeting our brand managers there – cutting our transport costs in half! Otherwise I spend my time running errands, making copies, picking supplies and ordering our Marusacco polo shirts (which hopefully will be completed today!!), or attending the occasional FSD workshop.
Matatu home and the day’s work is done! It would not be unusual to see the other interns from Jinja and myself on the patio of Mayfair hotel after work stopping in for something to drink, or at space café using some free wifi, or at a new favorite – Moti Mahal Indian Restaurant! Recently I found a great gym across town, but if I can’t make it out there I usually get enough exercise doing curls with baby Solomon. I don’t know anyone who likes to be upside down as much as that guy!
Tea time around seven starts to close my day and I will sit around with my family and talk about our days, or we enjoy some TV programs – when electricity allows. Dinner is served by ten – ten thirty at the latest. A brief rocking of baby Solomon and I crash – especially since I started walking everywhere, stupid rising petrol prices.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
Problem: Lack of safe, reliable family planning methods.
I had a long discussion the other day with my host mom about different ways women can practice birth control. She said it was a big problem here because a lot of births are unplanned. You have an uneducated woman and a husband who dominates the household – so of course you’re going to have a lot of unplanned kids.
(Photo of my community, Bugembe)
My host mom said that birth control is available, but there are really complicated side effects. Birth control pills have been known to give people cancer, and there are anti-fertility injections but those also have insane side effects.
I told my host mom that it sounded like all that they needed was access to safe, high quality birth control drugs and she agreed with me. If a company that operated as a social enterprise could come in and offer the same high-quality drugs we have in the U.S. at a lower price, then that would fill a huge market gap and a societal gap.
It would concurrently solve problems in population control, women’s empowerment, and poverty alleviation. And it would satisfy a market gap because of the demand for these products; there’s nothing close in effectiveness here.
Challenges: buying the drugs and being able to sell them at lower prices while still maintaining high profit margins. The business must be sustainable and to do that it has to churn out revenue. Additionally, shipping the drugs halfway across the world? Yipes.
I hope Jim won't be too mad at me about my inability to sit still for too long. Feedback is appreciated - or a cloning device so I can do all these things!
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Alinyikira – Unity is Strength to fight ignorance
Mukamamwesigwa – Women Empowerment to Fight Poverty
Mwino Abenakyo – Patience Leads to Victory
Monday, July 11, 2011
Saturday, South Sudan seceded and became the 54th country in Africa. That was a time of celebration – the end of a civil war in a nation divided by ethnicity. Many people were happy for peace. I asked many Ugandans what they thought of this event, most agreed it would be better for them to be united, but everyone declared how good it will be for them to have peace. Peace is a quality understood severely by Ugandans, still cleaning up from their own civil war. What if the US civil war had ended with the division of our nation? How much different would our lives be if we considered the challenges between two races reason to separate? Another intern claims they are sliding into feudalism, and some say that is what Africa needs. I don't think I really agree with them; but I am optimistic and hopeful South Sudan's oil riches may lead to peace, greater equality and economic benefits for the undeveloped south.As the live feed from Juba faded, stories of Remembering 7/11 flooded the news. Last July, during the world cup games, Uganda was hit by twin bombing terrorist attacks in Kampala. The news has recommended citizens be cautious of another attack. We have made it half way through the day, so far so good. Other Ugandans remark about how the news seemed to forgot until last month about the attacks and added security installed last July and August suddenly reappeared. Sound familiar? They are not per say living in fear of another attack, some are almost indifferent, feeling “that we are all at God’s mercy.” Although I must say – the taxi strike restricting traffic in Kampala today is rather convenient for keeping people in today.
Turns out by “just gave birth” the office secretary meant 4 days ago – much more reasonable. Our accountant is about ready to give birth to her first child, and my supervisor, Olivia, keeps telling me about how ground up fish healed her son of the measles. Mubiru is the only exception, a rebel of sorts. He knows who he wants to marry, but first he wants to wait about five years and become an accountant. He endures much criticism for his plans because he will be almost thirty.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Laura has an amazing ability to get along with everyone. She is clear-headed and open minded: from her Folklore minor to her desire to become a globe-trotter. She's made many Ugandan friends, and is always the one organizing get-togethers and trips. She's my adventure partner-in-crime! Before we came to Uganda, we would used to get together and grab dinner or coffee. We made our "Uganda Bucket List" full of all the adventures we wanted to have while we were over here. So far, we're pretty well along: the only thing that's left is touring the Nile Brewery and going on safari - and we'll do all of those next week!
Despite bumps in the road in with her work plan, she has been able to be amazingly calm and focused on her goal of successfully implementing her project. Even when she chipped her tooth during white water rafting, she took it in stride (something that would definitely have sent me off the wall!).
And of course - she's the sleepy intern! She's always the one down for chilling and taking a nap. It's been great during hectic days and nights here in Uganda - sometimes you just need a nap! Some of our conversations go like this: "I'm hungry." "I'm tired." "We should probably get out of here then." But make no mistake: Rolla is one of the most positive, cheery people on our snarky intern team!
It's crazy to thing that if I had never come to Uganda, I never would have met Laura. It's amazing to be friends/blogging buddies with someone so adventurous, passionate, and kind!
Friday, July 8, 2011
Mallory and I have incredibly enjoyed blogging about our adventures! In the middle of yet another crazy situation we will look at each other and say - this is one for the blog. As we have gotten to know each other better and blogged like crazy we decided to blog about each other.
So here it is: Mallory is, in a word, awesome. In several words she is a hardworking intern who genuinely cares for her community, she really likes it when work gets done, and she is always hungry. Always.
Our conversations usually start about work, then stories about our families, misadventures, planning more adventures, and then we decide to get some food as we cycle through again. We are in the same year at IU, but had not met prior to receiving our internship. Mallory contacted me and I was so excited to know I would have a travel buddy and blog buddy!
She is down for all things adventure and microfinance. In addition to her fly by the seat of her pants trip to Kampala, she trusted me for some reason (which probably won’t happen again) to find our way to the source of the Nile. Although that didn't work, we had a great time and made some friends. Mallory definitely has her head on straight and minor bumps in the road don't faze her. Unless of course that bump is a lack of or delay in food. "We should go find some Chipatti." Yes always hungry and anything will do - you did read she ate crickets didn't you?
Some of her favorite Ugandan foods are Matoke and and all the sauces, especially fish but not at all beans. Street food of Chipatti, samosas, rolex, gnuts, fruits and all things organic, like mangoes bananas, avacadoes are often mentioned. But she must have her Stoney, a ginger soda (which I agree is awesome!). Actually most of these foods made her top 20-some best things about Uganda list!
We are still cracking down on our bucket list – Safari next weekend! – but her time is in high demand with her increasingly successful savings trainings! We enjoy getting together after work and meeting up with other interns. FSD has put together and incredible, diverse, and snarky team of interns ("We need the visa to get there because we are American citizens" "Oh, we ARE American citizens then?"... ) and I look forward to meeting her again this weekend at an Indian restaurant for dinner of course!
I apologize for my blog absence - but getting through this midterm week of my internship has been insane!
I submitted my grant proposal to FSD earlier this week and we held our first brand managers training. Hopefully in the next week I will hear back about the grant so we can start planning for the expansion of our Pilot Brand Development Program through a seminar in August. I wish I had three more months to spend here to really educate these women on the importance of upholding a professional brand image, even in their small businesses. My strategy in all this is a training of trainers. It is best this way, as it becomes more and more likely that I will be leaving Uganda before the program is complete. Our goal is to shower information on newly elected brand managers and then allow the integration of training into their respective savings groups at a more appropriate pace. Luckily/thankfully/every other emotion of relief, after our training the brand managers responded that they are confident in their abilities to educate fellow members on branding.