My husband, Taylor and I have had an exciting and challenging first few weeks as we meet new people, learn about the culture, and try to navigate in a city of a million people, with 2 traffic lights total Peter, LiA’s staff member was the first to show us around. I thought we would get at “taxi,” meaning a driver in front and us in the back, I soon discovered that “taxis” were called Matatus. For anyone who has experienced this form of transportation, they can understand the deer in the headlights look as I boarded a small mini-bus packed with people while the conductor yelled at me in...Continue Reading >>
Stories from Uganda
It was not my intent to write so soon about another lending group, but I found a real gem in the Alinyikira Lending Group in the Village of Mutundwe, just on the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda.
To get to Mutundwe, you have to go to Old Taxi Park in the center of Kampala. This could be a story in itself, but in brief, it consists of approximately 10 acres of land jammed with matatoos: converted Toyota vans capable of handling 14 passengers. They all are white and look exactly the same. Thousands of riders are constantly converging on the park as...Continue Reading >>
Rabaga is a district of Kampala, Uganda. It rests on the slope of a hill. Within Rabaga and hidden from the street by small store fronts is an area referred to as a slum. Indeed, it may be a slum, but it is not without a strong sense of community: made stronger by the women who belong to the Rabaga Women’s Lending Group. They meet once a week but their spirit permeates their community daily. They are leaders who wish to make a difference in their community. And, they all own businesses within this area.
I went to attend the group meeting with my translator, Herbert. As we...Continue Reading >>
Eleven years ago, when I first moved into the neighborhood where I now live, I held a block party. I wanted to meet my neighbors – didn’t want to drive home, politely nod at folks I hadn’t met, but lived next door.
So, I had a block party. It worked. In fact, for the past ten years, it’s rotated from house to house. But, after the seventh year it started to get a little long in the tooth. The desire to “connect” was waning.
I miss the connection. Not just in the neighborhood, but in other ways, too. Too much pop culture, not enough real...Continue Reading >>
I had the opportunity to attend the 3rd Annual African Microfinance Conference last week! Over 500 top government officials, academics, policy makers, and representatives from the private and public sector congregated at the Speke Resort in Munyonyo, Kampala for the four day event. Although I learned a lot from the presentations, speeches, and panel discussions, the networking opportunities were the real strength of the conference. Amidst the numerous dining and coffee breaks I had the chance to chat with Uganda’s Minster of Microfinance and the Minister of Finance, Planning, and Economic...Continue Reading >>
Amidst many adventures, this week has had its share of sobering events. Many of Life in Africa’s (LiA) Kiva borrowers live in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Kampala. As a Kiva fellow, I travel to their homes to chat with them about the challenges they face operating small-scale businesses. On most days, the head of LiA’s microfinance program, Grace Ayaa, accompanies me on my interviews to serve as a translator. On Saturday Grace was late to our meeting. After some time she showed up looking dazed and disheartened. Grace informed...Continue Reading >>
Greetings from Uganda! My name is Maura and I have been working with Life in Africa (LiA) for the past four weeks. LiA is a community based organization servicing families affected by Northern Uganda’s civil war. Approximately 80% of members belonging to the Kampala LiA Center are mothers living in the Acholi Quarters–an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp. Political instability and violent rebel attacks over the past two decades have caused people to flee from the northern districts to escape persecution. Many LiA members hope to return home in the near future.
As a...Continue Reading >>