A Frenzied yet Successful and Joyous Women’s Day

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

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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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

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

1st March 2017

Rehmar is a 15-year-old student at Townside High School. She loves to eat rice, and her favourite subject is English. Rehmar is a passionate advocate for education, and she is a current member of the Teen Voices Programme. Articles are published online at this website. Rehmars advice to other girls would be to “take education as a serious thing”.

“School helps me to know and understand more about the world.”

Rehmar loves going to school. She likes to learn and explore things she doesn’t know about. Rehmar wants to be a doctor, and she aims to achieve this by reading sciences and concentrating on her studies. School is very important to her as she believes that, were she not studying, there would be no good future for her, and she would end up getting married at a young age. This is an all too common problem in Uganda; 40% of girls under the age of 18 are married, and consequently many of them drop out of school.

“[My community could improve] by educating people.”

Rehmar believes that if the whole community is educated then there would be easy access to everything. If people are not educated, then they can’t earn enough money to send their children to school. WIL Uganda empowers women in the community by educating them in l

15th November 2016

Compared to my life back in England, volunteering for a women’s empowerment NGO in Uganda is an everyday adventure. With a desk set against the lush backdrop of the Ugandan tropical terrain, and Tesco meal deals replaced with local cuisine – working 9-5 has never been sweeter. 8AM: The group awakes to the sound of alarm clocks and cockerels. After a tussle with a mosquito net and a few ‘good morning’ grunts, everyone gets on with their morning ablutions. Walking out into the courtyard for an obligatory trip to the squat toilets requires a few moments to adjust yourself to the searing brightness of the morning sun. 8.30AM: Everyone is dressed in their ‘Monday Smart’ as we consider, arguably, the hardest decision of the day – which chapatti man to buy breakfast from. Of course, you can’t deny the sultry goodness of Alex’s but the nameless elderly man’s stall does look more hygienic. To spice up our breakfast the English way, we generously apply marmite and tuck in.             9AM-12PM: We arrive at the WIL Uganda office in a breakfast chapatti haze, armed with our bottles of water and work for the day. I get out my laptop and begin planning for the afternoon’s one to one sessions. Today I will be teaching Janet ‘emotion’ vocabulary, so I begin the crafty task of making flashc