Interview with Alice Knights, former Crafts intern

Interview with Alice Knights, former Crafts intern
30th March 2017

Alice Knights, former intern for WIL Uganda’s Crafts programme, is now back in Uganda. We interviewed her about her experience as an intern, her motivations and the challenges she met during her stay.

You interned for WIL Uganda. Now you’re back and working in Jinja for another NGO. What brought you back?

I interned with WIL Uganda in October 2016 and had a really great experience with them. And yes, now I’m back. This time it’s more permanent. I’m working for Soft Power Education, who work to improve quality of life for children in Uganda through education. I had actually been to Uganda twice before interning with WIL Uganda so I knew the Jinja area quite well and after interning with WIL I knew I wanted to find a job using my International Development degree there.

Where it all began: WIL Uganda. What made you choose this specific NGO?

I found the internship with WIL Uganda on idealist.org while I was looking for jobs. I literally could not believe my luck when I saw the job description for the Crafts internship. It encompassed four of my biggest passions in life: women’s empowerment, crafts, development and Uganda. I remember ringing my sister straight away and telling her all about this role and WIL Uganda as a charity. She loved the sound of it too and applied for the Computer Literacy post. We both really loved that WIL Uganda was still a small grassroots charity and that it had an achievable fundraising goal.

While I was interning, our group found a great balance between our professional commitments and letting our hair down and having fun together at the weekend in Jinja.

What was your time as an intern like?

My time as an intern was really enjoyable. I felt my work really made an impact on the community. Cianne [Cianne Jones, Director of WIL Uganda – red.] was really supportive of all my creative ideas for the craft programme and let me experiment and develop new ideas.
I run a small non-profit organisation in the UK called Nakiyimba Alice’s African Crafts where I buy and sell products with 100% of profits going back to a Primary School in the Rakai Region of Uganda. My experience of that really helped me develop the craft programme.

While I was interning, our group found a great balance between our professional commitments and letting our hair down and having fun together at the weekend in Jinja.

Did it take you a long time to adjust?

It did not take long for me to adjust to life in Busembatia. I figured it was because I had been to Uganda before, but Jodie, a fellow intern, had never been to Africa before and she adjusted in no time, too. The living arrangements in Busembatia helped me adjust as well. We got to know each other quickly and spent a lot of time chatting and laughing. I hung out with the women in the courtyard behind our house and played with the children. I taught crafts in my spare time.

What makes working in Uganda different from working back home in the UK?

Many things! The most important difference is that you really see change happening, albeit often slowly. In the UK, sitting behind a desk, I would get to feeling so detached from my goals. As for the people: I find people in Uganda are friendly, passionate and inspiring too.

Was this the path in life you’ve always seen for yourself? When did you decide that this is the way to go?

International development is the path I have dreamed of since I was 16. Volunteering has been something that I have been encouraged to do from a young age by my parents. I had an amazing upbringing with my parents taking us travelling around the world. I got to see loads of very different cultures and lifestyles from a young age. Interning with WIL Uganda gave me the push I needed to achieve that life long dream, as I saw how much Cianne had achieved. I thought to myself: now is a good time for me to start doing what I have always wanted.

Would you recommend this line of work to friends? What makes a good candidate?

I would and have recommended this line of work to countless friends and family. Many are planning on doing volunteer/intern placements around the world in the future. A good candidate in my opinion is someone who is kind, passionate, respectful, but also someone with a good sense of humour and who likes to have fun.

Small grassroots charity like WIL Uganda are so crucial in the development world as they encourage local level change which helps to inspire a whole generation of girls who otherwise may have never had the opportunity to fulfil their full potential.

What is the impact you felt you’ve made whilst working for WIL Uganda? What impact can small grassroots organisations like WIL make?

With my craft programme I encouraged national staff and high school students to think outside of the box and be more creative with their crafts. I encouraged them to experiment with ideas and not be afraid of failure if an idea does not come together as planned.
It was very cool to see finished products and get them for sale in the UK. The looks and excitement on the girls faces when they received their money from their craft sales was super gratifying. It was amazing to see them empowered because of it. They realised they could potentially make an independent living from making and selling crafts and not rely on anyone else.

Small grassroots charity like WIL Uganda are so crucial in the development world as they encourage local level change which helps to inspire a whole generation of girls who otherwise may have never had the opportunity to fulfill their full potential.

 

Do you want to intern with us? We have several placements available, for different programmes. Read about it on our Volunteer page or find the current internships on Idealist.

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