International Women’s Day celebrations – Through an Intern’s eyes

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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28th July 2017

Time passes slowly up here in the daylight We stare straight ahead and try so hard to stay right Like the red rose of summer that blooms in the day Time passes slowly and fades away

~Bob Dylan, Time Passes Slowly | New Morning, 1970

  Throughout my placement here in Busembatia, Uganda, time has been central to the entire experience. There is something quaintly and quietly off about the time here, in many ways. People keep time differently, even tell time differently than I am used to back home. Moreover, time passes fast and slowly. Days pass fleetingly and weeks last for months and months last forever and are out before you notice it. It has now been six months, almost to the day, since I arrived. Time ground to a halt for the first weeks, when everything was new. I would arrive a little before 2 in the afternoon, fully prepped for my introductory sessions with the women I would be spending months with. Knowing I knew not what to expect, I expected at least that my eagerness would be met. It was, even if it did not take the form of punctuality and a nervous energy to match mine. Joseph and I sat, as we would sit

21st June 2017

written by Meg Beare There are lots of ways in which teaching in Busembatia sometimes seems like an insurmountable challenge. At times the SRHR [Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights] team of Leah and I truly feel like strangers in a strange land. The classrooms we teach in are unplastered with no glass in the windows. Inside they are dark and cramped; desks packed so tightly together that students climb over each other to get to their seats.

“There is little to no formal education about contraceptives, so when they become sexually active, their reproductive control is limited”

But the state of the classrooms doesn’t even figure as a concern here. The girls who pile into our classrooms face sexual health challenges that are immediate and intense. A quarter of girls in Uganda between ages 15 to 19 are pregnant or already have a child. There is little to no formal education about contraceptives, so when they become sexually active, their reproductive control is limited. In addition, poverty makes them easy targets for older men,

5th May 2017

“Many women here are not married and are finding it hard to live a good life.”

Ruth is a mother of 7. She is proud to be. Ruth is happy here in Busembatia. She is glad to be able to further her education. Her mother lives in nearby Namatumbe. She’s still alive and for that Ruth is thankful. “I am happy with my family. I am happy to be married and have a home to live in.” Many women here are less fortunate. They have to raise a lot of children alone, says Ruth, because men chase them away.

“If someone fails to marry, that’s a very big failure. Then you are not a good community member.”

It is a common problem. Ruth has seen it happen to women in her community. Women will have children with a man and believe that to be enough prove of marriage. Men, she says, are desperate and often unsatisfied with their wife. “When he sees a beautiful women he tries. In that desperation he produces a lot of children without self control.” He will then ignore his responsibilities. The women are left to fend for themselves. They will not have a marriage certificate. “They have nothing to fall back on.”

“Women should know how to go into marriage. They should know they are not supposed to be

27th April 2017

We introduced the crafts programme in 2015, after requests from local women to help them gain an income generating skill. Our mission was to teach women and girls a skill, which could enable them to earn an income to sustain themselves and their families.

By Cianne Jones – I struck up a conversation with a businessman recently, about the pros and cons of the new trend in organisations setting up social enterprises in developing countries. Social enterprise can be defined in many ways. A common definition is ‘an organisation that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being’. This may include maximizing social impact, alongside profits for external shareholders. Our main discussion was over whether these social enterprises were truly sustainable. The businessman argued that the social enterprises that are set up in developing countries are generally set up by people who lack business acumen. This impacts on the sustainability of the enterprise. The people that the businessman was referring to were the so-called “do-gooders” or western NGO’s. He gave me an example of a social enterprise that he visited in East Africa, which didn’t appear to have a clear business plan. Indeed profit to them appeared to be a dirty word, as if social enterpris

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 a

9th March 2017

“Football! We really want to play football,” was the unanimous response of both teenage girls and grown-up women to the question what they wanted to do on International Women’s Day. Football and sports are generally a man’s thing, here. But on International Women’s Day, March 8, women decide what the festivities look like. [text continues after photo] International Women's Day Football At 11:30AM, the girls and women lined up at the football pitch. The girls, all from schools where we run our programmes, played in sporty shirts and stretchy skirts. The women, all participants on our community programmes, wore festive traditional dress: bold dresses with pointy shoulders, bright colours and the occasional glitter. Barefoot, laughing, yelling and screaming, they ran across the football field. An energetic match followed by a dramatic series of penalties eventually resulted in victory for the girl’s team.

“I am very happy to be part of these women on this day”

The International Women’s Day festivities continued at WIL Uganda’s office in the center of the village. Girls from local high

13th February 2017

My name is Mugole Joseph: social scientist, aged 27 years and community mobilizer volunteering for Women in Leadership – Uganda (WIL-Uganda). I am fortunate enough to always work in an environment with colleagues representing many different countries or nationalities. I would like to share some of the great things that I have observed from working with people from a diverse mix of countries.

  • The close team working culture at WIL Uganda means that the opportunities to experience the benefits of working in a multinational and a multicultural environment are particularly prevalent.
  • It increases my value to employers The fact is that, if you have international experience, you are more attractive to employers and more likely to be involved in interesting multicultural environments and expansion projects for your employer. It has typically given me a broader experience, working with people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, especially working with people from different parts of the world. You get a chance to learn different cultures and perspectives as you experience diversity over time.
  • Insights and creativity thrive I am not a psychologist, but I do have a keen interest in behavioral psychology. There are countless studies proving that creativity and new insights thrive in environments where people have diffe

16th November 2016

Arriving in Uganda as Women in Leadership (WIL) craft volunteer I didn’t really know what to expect of my six week women empowerment adventure ahead. But being my third time visiting Uganda I was excited to integrate myself into the community and share my craft skills gained from years of experience in the UK. One thing I knew for sure was that swapping the cold of an English October to help empower women in the warmth of the Ugandan sun seemed like a rather good deal! Crafts play a crucial role in Women in Leaderships work here in Busembatia Eastern Uganda and their work has already touched many women and girl’s lives since they began two years ago. In Uganda women and girls face many hardships throughout their lives, hardships that many western women couldn’t even imagine. Due to cultural norms particularly in rural areas some parents feel it is a waste of time and money to educate girls. These girls are often left behind but skills such as crafts can be a life line, giving them access to invaluable skills and knowledge to help them make a better future for themselves. The women who come to the sessions can use their craft knowledge to help them generate their own sustainable income. They can sell their things individually in the village or stay as part of the group making crafts for sale on WIL’s etsy store: (https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BaNyaboand in the UK.) Susan