My Journey with WIL Uganda

14th June 2018

Susan striking a pose at the WIL Uganda office When WIL Uganda had just begun the programme of Crafts, they had to look for people who can manage that programme, so I was chosen and given an agreement to sign and we started from there. I was already trained with Crafts skills alongside another facilitator, and we managed a big group of women at the start. The other facilitator Sara and I spent two years training women to make products. After some products were made, the director would take them to the UK and move around selling those products. The organization was making earrings bracelets and jewelry. A time came when the programme was running but had to stop because we couldn’t find a specific place to sell the products and get the money for the women. The director didn’t want the women to keep coming to make crafts and not receiving an income for their work, it was too discouraging. Then we started searching for ways to sell products online, and last year we were successful in finding a company that buys our products and the women receive the money. Last year WIL Uganda helped me go and join a tailoring training, I was training for 3 months because of their support. Because they helped pay for this training I am very grateful and I graduated in November 2017. Tailoring is a very serious and big programme, I was given an introduction of making practical things li

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10th May 2018

Photo of a student in the Adult Literacy programme, Irene Namuganza, introducing herself in English   A few weeks ago the Adult Literacy programme had a session focusing on self-introductions. In this session with Adult Learners on April 8th I realized the capacity of the learners to introduce themselves in English and to “own” a platform.   People came forward and explained things about their lives and we learnt more about them. When the exercise went on in class, one student, Irene Namuganza, firmly introduced herself. She stated she is a housewife married to a gospel preacher and secondary school teacher at Numutumba Secondary School and so on.   Her body language told it all, how confident she was on the platform. She told the class that she is a mother of six, some of whom had completed ordinary level of secondary education. The art of body language was really developed for Irene. She chose a good diction in her expression. She only needed correction in sentence construction here and there, which is great progress for her compared to where she was at the start of her time in the programme.   I hope if Adult Learners concentrate on the Literacy programme, they will be empowered even more so to express themselves very well in public. When the women concentrate and keep coming they have a better chance of achieving their goals and

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10th May 2018

Final goodbyes with the Teen Voices participants from Townside High School, Busembatia.   I write this blog for the month of May, a little earlier than usual. That is because, this week marks the end of my time in Uganda and the realisation that I am soon to embark on my journey ‘home’, is beginning to set in. Despite three months not being a huge amount of time, I have consolidated my view that development is measured in more than numbers. Change often takes the form of a subtle yet steady ripple, which could eventually break, or manifest into something beautiful. A wave. That wave cannot be guaranteed, but the option and choice are there for disposal and that, is exactly what matters.   It has been an eye opening three months completing the Teen Voices internship here in Uganda. There have been moments where I have questioned impact and receptivity, yet there have also been times where I have beaconed with pride and purpose. For example, when I’ve observed the girls’ passion as they presented their poetry at International Women’s Day celebrations, read articles they’ve written on issues from their heart, watched how they communicate with such honesty and rawness and have just generally enjoyed seeing how much they shine.   In my opinion, social change is tangible and visible, but only if we adapt the way we see it. Sometimes it is

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9th May 2018

Photos of a few children stopping by our office to make use of the books in our library   On a recent case study with a local stakeholder, I received some insight that inspired some reflection about WIL Uganda’s impact in Busembatia. The man I was interviewing is a Police constable, Mr. Bukono, who has been in the police force for 22 years. Self-taught, he explained that he hadn’t even attended secondary school, but became a police officer and worked his way up to the senior position he has now. The phrase that struck me during the interview was when he claimed:   “For me personally I am very thankful for WIL Uganda and the reading culture you bring.” The bookshelves we have at our office are full of books ranging from educational textbooks to childrens books to teen novels, and though this isn’t one of the main services we advertise, it is always there for the community to access and make use of, and Mr. Bukono is a frequent user.   The reason the phrase stuck with me was specifically because he used the term “culture.” When you look up the word culture in a dictionary, it is often defined as the shared beliefs, practices, and values of group of people. This made me think about how the act of reading can become a part of a peoples culture: belief in the importance of reading, practicing it habitually, and valuing the role

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30th April 2018

‘I Want To….’ Participants of Townside High School and facilitator Bethan Williams pictured above, during a class activity used to establish personal and collective objectives   During my time as a journalism intern with WIL Uganda, I have been lucky enough to facilitate sessions with many inspiring young women. As the school term ends and this week marks the final sessions with in school youth, here I reflect on the achievements, operational challenges and the things I’ll take away,  from implementing the Teen Voices programme in Busembatia.   Facilitating sessions is just one part of my role here with WIL Uganda. However, the opportunity to foster growth and community engagement on a grassroots level by conducting sessions with in school youth, is one which I fully embrace. I welcome the opportunity to be ‘in the field’ and have direct contact with the local community, a hands-on ability to impact capacity-building amongst young women, it’s refreshing and rejuvenating.   It acts a regular reminder of why I do what I do, and why I feel so strongly about the role of informed women in their own development. I feel honoured to work with such bright and motivated young people. When I am with them, I feel alive and bask in their light and how much they shine with enthusiasm, eagerness and motivation. The girls can be critical and analytical, s

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5th April 2018

One of my favourite photos of the day – girls championing #pressforprogress and other elevating messages about girls for International Women’s Day   The celebratory International Women’s Day event at WIL Uganda was the highlight of the month, and a day that will have continuing ripple effect in the town of Busembatia. My task during the event was to photograph and record everything that was happening, and I was excited to create social media content from the people and activities I would capture that day.   The day started smoothly as I went to pick up girls from Standard High School and we chatted and laughed along the way to the office. The tent and the chairs were being set up as I started going around to photograph people arriving: women in their beautiful traditional dresses, the marching band tuning their instruments, and children from all over being drawn to the commotion we were creating in the community.   Then as the marching band began organizing to start the march, with my camera in hand, a screen popped on my camera: “memory full”. Panic set in as I realized my laptop to empty my camera on was at home – so I ran home to get my laptop and make space on my camera for the rest of the photos and videos to be taken that day. After running back and forth, having more technical difficulties with my laptop, and asking a friend from Canad

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5th April 2018

Participants of the teen voices programme from Townside High School and facilitator Bethan Williams, pictured outside WIL Uganda offices on International Women’s Day   The 8th March has increasingly become a day of marked attention and #pressforprogress. A day of celebration, conversation and advocacy of women’s rights. In Busembatia, participants of Women in Leadership Uganda marched to celebrate and mobilise support – and what a vibrant and visible day it was!   To many here was just a normal morning on a normal day, as the cockerels sounded and the sun began to rise. However, it really wasn’t. A national holiday, no work, no school, but why, I asked myself? International Women’s Day was the reply. I was shocked, stunned almost. To declare a national holiday was such a progressive step, I pondered receptivity in other countries I had worked in and visited, and their attitudes towards such a day.   This wasn’t the first realisation I had had since being in country, however it was a large one, Uganda was progressive, Uganda was ready. Uganda was leading a change, right here on my doorstep. I considered what lessons could be taken back, to my own country of residence. Sure, International Women’s Day is a recognised and celebrated day, but a National holiday – how fantastic!   The celebrations started with a march, led by a

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5th April 2018

I arrived from Vancouver, Canada one week ago and learning that my name, Neda, means “no” in Uganda’s language (Luganda) was a great first lesson in living here.   When I first arrived in Uganda I was at the same time excited and nervous, as it is my first time on the continent of Africa. We were first greeted by a welcoming Joseph, our volunteer coordinator, and a driver who drove us from Entebbe to Busembatia in a very hot car ride. That is probably the first thing foreigners need to adjust to: always being hot. Coming from Canada where it is winter it was an especially stark contrast; but I love the warmth and I think I am adapting already. Other new things to adjust to have been: bucket showers (which aren’t too bad!), long drop toilets, chickens, cows, and goat all around us and waking us up, and the mosque’s call to prayer very early in the mornings. Getting a lot of attention because we are foreign is also a new experience I haven’t had since I was in China a few years ago so I need to get used to that again.   However, I’m excited to get acquainted with food tasting differently, modes of communication being different, my perception of time and distance changing, learning new words in a language, building new relationships and connections, learning from a new culture in endless ways, and of course exploring cities like Jinja and Kampala.   I

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5th April 2018

Training with WIL Uganda team in the new office location, Busembatia   A smile, that’s what greeted me as I walked out of Entebbe airport undoubtedly with worried eyes, pushing an incredibly heavy suitcase. I had arrived and so had he: Joseph, volunteer coordinator and community mobiliser, and there he was. Happy to help, answer any questions and already, evidently equipped with a wealth of knowledge on the task I was about to undertake and on all the emotions that were running through my head as an international intern.   After a gruelling journey from the UK, with a stop over in Ethiopia, I was keen to make the journey to my placement location. I had so many unanswered questions and thoughts I had constantly pondered during the weeks in the lead up to my departure. Will it be a bucket bath or shower? A long drop or toilet? Will I make an impact? Will I feel like I have accomplished something? What will it be like working for such a small grassroots organisation? How will this differ to academia and previous experiences of working within international development in other countries? Was I making the right decision? Could there ever be too much of a good thing?   Green, everywhere. Open expanses of mountains and trees, green, everywhere. The radio was playing and our driver was laughing away, pointing out places of interest as we drove from Entebbe to

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27th November 2017

Hailing from the UK, it is incredibly easy to take British ‘sex-ed’ (Sexual Education) classes for granted. From a young age, we are provided with a clear and informative programme which discusses contraceptives, puberty, sexually transmitted infections and how to prevent unwanted pregnancy within a safe and open environment. Though eyes may temporarily glaze over during lessons and laughter may ensue during a condom demonstration, it is clear that this sustained mission to teach British adolescents about how and why they can make informed decisions about their bodies and sexual health is both necessary and effective. Honestly, it’s effectiveness only became crystal clear to me when I began this internship at Women in Leadership and I found myself reminiscing about how teachers once engaged us in the topics using visual aids to accompany detailed talks on anatomy, puberty and STIs. I thought I had mentally prepared myself for the myths and cultural barriers to teaching about family planning, teenage pregnancy and a range of other topics, but the concerns and worries articulated to me were a far cry from what I had expected. A few years ago, the Ugandan government started the ABC campaign to fight the spread of STIs and HIV – A for Abstinence, B for Be Faithful, C for Condoms. This abstinence-focussed approach may have initially helped to reduce the prevalence of HIV but

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