The first week I came to MCDT, Justine, my supervisor, and Olivia, her supervisor, were looking at pictures of borrowers they were preparing to post to the Kiva website. They called me over to look at one person in particular, standing in the middle of a group of five and said, “You must meet Ruth!” They told me she was the embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit and a real survivor. They told me how she’s living with AIDS and lost her husband to the...Continue Reading >>
Stories from Uganda
Here it is: my first blog entry! As I write this, I am putting the finishing touches on my packing and realizing I truly have no idea what to expect! I am in the phase of packing in which I second guess my second guesses and start throwing the unnecessary items back in – I think this can be referred to as panicking! What it comes down to is that no matter how much I have been reading about Uganda and Kampala, I have no real idea what to expect.
However, to say that I am unprepared is a bit preposterous. I recently got...Continue Reading >>
These past couple of weeks at MCDT, my primary task has been interviewing women who will be getting their first Kiva loan (though not their first loan) in order to write up the brief introduction posted on the Kiva website. Keep an eye out for them! They’re terrific people and a terrific organization and I’m excited to be helping them get these loans.
I’ve been hearing so many stories doing these interviews, as you can imagine, it’s hard to select any particular one to share. But there was one yesterday that got to me and I thought I’d pass it along.
Fred, the...Continue Reading >>
Warning: The following story is not supposed to suggest that I think every African is noisy and offensive! It may seem that I am complaining about something very trivial and some sections of society will read this and say “If you don’t like it them leave”. To them I say… I am not asking anyone here to change – I love it here – merely writing about the fact that I haven’t managed to sleep through a night since coming here. I love the life and energy here and wouldn’t want it any other way (god,...Continue Reading >>
Last week I had a heated discussion with a minibus taxi conductor. The locals that witnessed this event rarely see anyone losing their temper, let alone raising their voice in public. Genevieve and I have been using the same bus route for a number of weeks now and, while at first we paid slightly more than the locals, it’s now obvious that we know the price and all the conductors charge us appropriately.
... Continue Reading >>
Almost everywhere we go it feels like we’re the centre of attention. Most often we’re the only white people around amongst a sea of locals. The attention isn’t bad – it can’t be classed as harassment like we receive in India, Morocco and certain other countries – but we’re aware that all eyes are on us. We’re just different – we look different, we move differently, we wear different clothes, we sound different, we’re doing different, possibly interesting things. ...Continue Reading >>
We entered the wooden hut that served as the meeting room for Rubaga Women’s Group, desperate for some respite from the Kampala sunshine. It was much cooler inside, despite the absence of windows and surprisingly, the thin gaps between the planks of wood let in a cool breeze. So we sat down and were grateful that the women were able to make enough room for us to squash between them. Our sense of personal space has been altered since we came to Uganda and we no longer feel uncomfortable to be pressed up against...Continue Reading >>
Man, it seems like the Ugandan fellows have taken over the blog! I probably should wait my turn but I wanted to tell you about an encounter I had last Sunday.
One of the great sites in Kampala is the Kasubi tombs where the Buganda kings are buried, and so on Sunday in search of touristy adventure, I went.
It’s not a very big place overall, about the size of a baseball field (to use a comparison comfortable to me), with a few huts in it. The largest is where the kings are buried behind a fig bark cloth hung from the ceiling in a place referred to as the forest. I had to...Continue Reading >>
A few days ago we had just finished some shopping at the Uchumi supermarket at the newly built Garden City Mall. As we left the mall and walked through the car park we noticed the commotion of hundreds of people watching smoke billowing from the roof of the six story Standard Chartered Bank building. A few of the workers had made their way onto the roof and were removing tiles to allow...Continue Reading >>
Yesterday, while walking home from work, my husband and I fell into a rhythm that kept pace with a young man who was walking in the same direction. In the big city I come from, people tend to avoid making eye contact when they chance upon strangers in the street. In a country town, people tend to acknowledge each other with a friendly nod or brief smile. Ugandans will smile openly, say hello and ask how you are. They will even wait for your reply and expect you to enquire the same of them. And then, if your Luganda is good...Continue Reading >>