2. I loved and will miss rafting on, swimming in, partially drowning in, walking by, and seeing the Nile Victoria River. It was an amazing reminder daily of where I was in the world.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
2. I loved and will miss rafting on, swimming in, partially drowning in, walking by, and seeing the Nile Victoria River. It was an amazing reminder daily of where I was in the world.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Uganda is a lot of things; it holds beautiful scenery, wonderful people, it is cheap, it is dirty, and it is also corrupt. Throughout my experiences in Uganda and with corruption I have come to believe it begins on the top political levels, and has trickled down to all levels of society. Those with power have led by example, and decades of influence have certainly left their impression.
My first experience has been recurring every day: Muzungu Pricing. How can a business charge different prices based on skin color? Because they expect that I have money do they deserve to take more? At first I was amused but no more. While visiting Rwanda (due to visa complications and the need for a mini vacation) we experienced minimal muzungu pricing, and we especially noticed the difference in the organization of the transportation system. The bodas (moto taxis in Rwanda) were required to carry helmets for their passengers, and thus could only carry one person. Yesterday I saw three adults and two children on a boda in Jinja. Also it is so not okay to bribe your way onto a taxi bus. Bribery in general is a big no-no. ... Of course once we were back in Uganda we may or may not have bribed the bus driver to get us from Kampala to Jinja.
A Rwandan described the unorganized transportation chaos as corruption. I was relieved to hear him say this, as I was having trouble accounting these problems as corruption, thinking I was being too critical.
Other experiences that have reached me personally include having the electricity cut, for various reasons, for over a week at both my home and at work. My family did not want to report the man who conned them. They explained two reasons for not reporting; he is the friend of a friend, and revenge is very common. With David going off to school, he fears the man would come after their home to harm the family for costing him his job. They also say he is conning other people so someone else will report him… probably.
The final experience I will share here has been one of poor leadership. A Sacco under ORUDE has been having trouble with the treasurer not turning in the money he collects from members. Another intern with FSD faced similar challenges of a chairperson using the funds they raised to buy goat feed for his farm. I am amazed and confused as to how people can remain in their positions after raising such distrust. And how can they walk around their community, around their friends and colleagues when everyone knows what they have done?
These challenges and more have been frustrating throughout the summer as I acclimated to the business cultures here. I have high hopes for Uganda’s future, that someone will decide to sacrifice and lead by example, refuse the corruption, and bring along the slow and tedious process of raising Uganda’s standards.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Mariah: How was your program?
Me: It went sooooo well!
Mariah: Oh really? Did a lot of members come?
Mariah: Ok did it go on time?
Me: No it started like two hours late... and ran there hours over..
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
- How to identify a problem and address it holistically in a way that supports an organization's long-term sustainability. I believe that one of the strengths of my project is that it created a program to solve an inherent problem in the SACCO: which is a lack of working capital. This problem is restricting the organization's vision and mission - without working capital, the SACCO is unable to extend loans to the community and therefore can't provide capital to expand businesses, help families out in emergencies, and pay for school fees. Addressing it holistically involved creating a project that benefited both sides of the equation: the SACCO itself and the beneficiaries. By developing savings culture, the problem of low working capital is solved through increased savings deposits. The clients of the SACCO benefit by receiving training in vital financial skills, and they are enabled to save better through the program. Picking up deposits at the client's house eliminates costly transportation to and from the SACCO - which was a major barrier to saving. You can see that the clients and the SACCO are intertwined in a cycle: you can't address a challenge in the SACCO without addressing a challenge in the community of beneficiaries you are serving. Thus, the best solutions are holistic solutions that both grow the organization and develop the community.
- How to identify and motivate appropriate stake holders in a project. Another strength of the box savings project was that the employees of the SACCO entirely were supportive and participated in the project. And they should - they came up with the idea of distributing lockboxes to their clients. It seems that all they needed was a little push and structure to give support to their idea. And because they had come up with the idea, they were 100% stakeholders in making their idea become reality. The project had received incredible support and drive from every employee in the SACCO - even when I wasn't there, they were talking about the project and promoting it among their friends, neighbors, and other clients.
- Experience working in an international business setting. As an international business major at Kelley, one of my career goals is to work overseas and in the international sector of a company. I really value having exposure to working with people from a vastly different culture, and dealing with the ups and downs of living overseas.
- Appreciation for the natural world. I'm not trying to be a super-hippie here, but some of the best times I had in Africa were when I was exploring the natural environment. The obvious one is going on safari - but from whitewater rafting down grade 5 rapids on the Nile river to going on an amazing hike underneath waterfalls up the side of Mount Elgon, I feel like my eyes have been opened to the amazing natural wonders of the world.
- A real view of development. Maybe most importantly, I feel like I've gotten a real view of what development, charity, and aid are doing for Africa. What I say may sound controversial - but I support Africans finding solutions for African problems, and implementing those solutions themselves. I don't think Africa needs to play the damsel in distress. Like I had said above, the employees at my SACCO had a great idea of how to solve their problem with working capital, but they hadn't implemented it until I came along. And I wonder if students like us can teach essential skills on how exactly to solve problems and implement solutions.
I feel like my experience with my host family has been different from other interns, because of how young my family is. My parents (David and Mariah) celebrated their first child’s (Solomon’s) first birthday last month. So rather than relatives and family of all ages coming and going I feel like our home has the feel of a hostel. We welcomed in Hanifa, an intern from Kampala to stay for the summer. She shared a room with Betty, who does work around the house. Simon stays in the guest wing, and two young women moved into the garage as they look for a more permanent place to rent. All of us are under the age of thirty five. Some nieces and nephews who are in high school in Jinja also stop by. We come and go frequently at all hours, and it is an environment I thoroughly enjoy.
Although I feel as though I have the independence of living in a hostel, I am incredibly dependent on my family. Betty takes good care of me, from helping me find the right flask with tea, to chasing the dog off so I can get out the gate. After work it is often Betty and I at home, and we trade off playing with Solomon blowing bubbles, and dancing with him. I have wanted to learn from Betty how to make matoke and some of the sauces we have, but the timing has always been off, I am down to four days to master those recipes.
My family has hosted many interns in the past, many through FSD as well. I like to talk with them over tea and throughout the evening about work and the challenges I have faced. Last night I had a great discussion with David about Uganda’s future, specifically the crippling nature of corruption and foreign aid. Spending cuts in the US are taking their affect here as many organizations have started to look for new sources of income since US aid is cut.
Today I get to spend some quality time with my family and I am so excited! The daughter of the man whose house they are renting is getting married to a Kiwi, and we are going to the introduction today and wedding on Thursday! I’m so curious to how the cultural traditions will be combined. What a perfect addition to my last week in Uganda!
I will miss my Ugandan friends so much. I love the relationships I have developed and the quirks of what our relationships consist of. At any point through the day I would receive a phone call that goes something like this:
Friend: Hello Rolla! How are you today?
Me: I am fine how are you?
Friend: Mm. Bulunji – I am fine. Well done.
Me: Mm. Kale Gyebaleko.
Friend: *laughter* Mm Kale.
Me: Mm. Okay. What are you doing?
Friend: I am resting/in town/studying. What are you doing?
Me: I am at work/taking tea/going on a safari.
Friend: Okay let me wish you a nice time. And say ‘hello’ to Marsholay (Mallory) for me
Me: Okay Nice time t-- *click*
There are some who continue on about hobbies, plans for the weekend, and discussing when we will see each other again, but rarely do my conversations last longer than two minutes. I like this culture of checking in on friends just to see what they are doing at that moment and to tell them what I am doing right then. I hope my friends in the USA are ready, I feel like I will start calling them much more!
Thursday, August 4, 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
Friday, July 22, 2011
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.
Friday, July 8, 2011
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.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
- Always account for twice as many guests as you plan for (my host parents invited 200 and 400 came)
- Invitation is generally by word of mouth - because you expect your friends to come, they do not need an invitation. (The workplace and far away relatives generally receive invitations.)
- The wedding party dances anytime the travel somewhere
- We had a lunch break between the wedding and reception
- The bride and bridegroom were constantly surrounded by photographers. Turns out they didn't hire all of them, some just heard and showed up. At the reception they came with multiple copies of their prints to sell right then and there to the guests!
- It is super convenient to be married in Jinja, because then you get to have your reception on the Nile!
- Cake is reserved for important people - I was not one of those - It is a way to show recognition to family members and employers and good friends who attend your wedding, and then it gets passed backwards from their to the other excess guests.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
“How do you find this place?” “It’s good. Bulunji.”My friend Lillian, a University student from Central Uganda, has been the only one to follow up with, "Why do you only have positive things to say?" Lillian, Mallory and I met at the source of the Nile, she is in Jinja completing her student teaching for her education degree. It is a very reasonable question, and Jinja is not exactly paradise, but her question made me laugh all the same. The experiences of being in a new place seem to have had more positives than negatives, we will see if this changes with the more time I spend here.
(Mallory, Lillian, and I in the middle of the Nile River)
A positive experience has been how nice people are. Ugandans rave that they are the nicest in Eastern Africa, and my colleagues assure me that they, the Busoga who live in this Jinja district, are the kindest tribe, the others are stubborn. And generally, people have always been very pleasant and friendly to me. It may have something to do with the customary greeting of "You are most welcome." That just makes a person feel good!
To be fair to Lillian’s question - I dislike the trash removal system here. Of the Ugandans I have interacted with, I have realized that I generate more trash than they do. Our family trash can is a small bucket emptied just a couple times a week. Much of what is thrown out is paper product or compost waste and so burning seems to be the removal method of choice. Dumpsters are found with smoke pouring out and trash spilling over. Once or twice I have seen a man with a shovel gather the trash back into the dumpster, but never have I seen it emptied. Through some curiosity and investigation, I learned that there is a city garbage removal, which takes the dumpsters away, empties them and then returns them. Those near the marketplace are emptied maybe every other day. You can see in the image to the right some mid day trash burning outside my office in Mafubira.
Now I don't want to leave you on such a negative note, so getting back to the discussion of the Busoga and tribes, those cultural ties are very strong. Heading to Mafubira I always pass the hill the tribe king is building a house on. One of my favorite questions to be asked is, do different tribes in America speak different languages? It reminds me of the differences between ourselves, where people do not always know their heritage, and this youthful country which became independent in the 60s. Could you imagine if each US state spoke at least one local language?