Self Help Foundation, Kampala, Uganda(TN-In-UG-KY-2012-309)
27th August – 9th October
- 1. Background:
From the 27thof August till the 9th of October I absolved an internship at the Self Help Foundation Uganda in Kampala. This is a basic report for my supervisor Edna Akullo. It is structured in first a comprehensive background with all facts and data about my stay in Uganda. Secondly about challenges which I was confronted during my stay and lastly my recommendation for a more productive and efficient way to do charities work in Africa.
I stayed the first 4 days in the AIESEC house, the organization which was transmitting me. This house is probably not the best start in Uganda because it is next to a slum and the living conditions are just bad. After the 4 days we went to Karamoja to give training for different youth groups in business and entrepreneur skills. This is definitely one of the best experiences I got. The youth groups were so ambitious and motivated that it was pretty impressive. Afterwards back in Kampala my major exercise was to report the trip and to prepare the accounting for the past training. Also I planned a follow-up training for the same youth groups; including a simple business plan. My idea was to discuss business opportunities with the youth together and collect the ideas from the young entrepreneurs. In the end I would like to try to get the start capital with some crowd-founding tools like giveforyouth.org. Unfortunately the starting date was postponed from day to day so that in the end I was not able anymore to travel to Karamoja again. So I spend the rest of my days in Kampala.
- 2. Challenges and recommendations:
The first challenge was the culture shock for sure; I have never been to a third world country before. Therefore especially in the AISEC house, where I got all the poverty around me, the first impressions were super difficult and sometimes even scares. This is nothing that can be changed easily. A better communication could prepare future interns to avoid this first culture shock. Just describe the situation how and under what conditions you are living here. Or just forward one of these reports to the students. Nevertheless this is also a fault of the AIESEC organization; there are much better accommodations in Kampala. Because of that I was really pleased to could move to Edna’s house.
Secondly the horrible traffic is a big issue. An own car would be awesome but it not possible to change. Honestly I don’t have recommendations for that. Just don’t be scared and try to do it. If you don’t have a car and living far away from office/downtown then you have to get used to this situation.
The next big challenge is a general problem caused by miscommunication and miss organization. Often I had no plan and no clue what we are doing, what the challenge is and how I can help or support. Especially for me this was quite unsatisfied because I wanted to get to this country to help and to change something here. So every time without a plan or without a structure I felt hopeless and I couldn’t reach my target. Of course this is also caused by my high expectations. It is hard to find a solution for this. Maybe with proper communication like transmitting time tables and exact information about follow programs as soon as they are available. Furthermore the optimal solution would be if the student gets a structured time plan about his/her time at the Self Help Foundation in Uganda. Sometimes I even had the feeling that Edna has no plan where the problem is or why we are not moving to Karamoja for the second trip. A meeting with all responsible people to figure out a satisfied solution for everyone would be a start to solve this. Take apart more in the organization and planning would give me a better overview about the structure and about what is the problem right now.
The last issue is addressed to me. With too many expectations you just can get disappointed in the end. Therefore try to be bottom lined and concentrate on the things you can achieve. You can’t change the world in 2 month.
- 3. Conclusion:
All in all I had an amazing time in Uganda. All the experiences that I got are priceless and unforgettable. I learned a lot about a new culture and a new work culture. I would highly recommend going to a country like Uganda to open your mind and to expand your horizon. Of course you are confronted with a lot of new challenges that you have never heard before; but you are much prouder afterwards when you challenged it and if you could do some charity work. Therefore I’m really thankful to Edna for giving me the opportunity doing the work in Uganda and to get so many new experiences. I hope we will stay in contact and I can finish my project even from Germany. So in conclusion I’m happy to have done this job.
For me as a spoiled German boy, who has never been to Africa or to a comparable country, it was a quite impressive adventure in Karamoja. I honestly don’t know where to start to describe my experience. Probably it all starts right after Soroti. The roads are getting unpaved and dusty. The holes in the street are getting bigger and bigger as closer you get to Moroto – In the end our car could easily fit in these holes. But thanks to Peter (our driver) we arrived safely.
Back to the work after several incidentals, which you have to calculate in Karamoja, we could start the training in Moroto at the 4th of September. We taught two different youth groups. On the one hand the Lokapelimen youth group from the Rupa sub-county, who are doing business in gold mining, and on the other hand the Cereal banking youth from Nadunget, who are looking for new activities and are currently jobless. The 2-day training was mainly structured in the topics entrepreneurships, economic skills and market links. In the end the trainers, who were hired from the private sector in Moroto, added some topics like saving strategies and group dynamics like how to act in a group or how to solve problems in a group. I was positively surprised by the motivation and ambition of these young groups. They seemed to be willing to change or improve their current life. They asked a lot of questions and the feedback that I got in the end was nearly perfect.
We kept on doing this training with the same teachers in Kotido. There we trained the two groups Lokochile farmer, who are doing agriculture, and the Loonei youth group. Again the students showed high participation and interest in this kind of training in alternative livelihood. With an average unemployment rate of over 80 % (World Bank) in this region the young people are glad to get some support and hope to get out of the trap of unemployment. The kids came up with several interesting business ideas and mentioned to me that they really would like to go on with the training. It has to be underlined that mostly none of the students neither in Moroto nor in Kotido could read or write or has ever visited a school. For the first time in classroom their behavior was just inspiring.
The last station of our trip was Abim. There we were not only confronted with hiring new trainers (because of the language barrier) but also with a different type of student. The education level was much higher therefore the expectation of the level of training was a little bit too high but also here we received a warm feedback. The names of the groups were Agile youth and TeoObia.
According to the high interest of the youth groups I highly recommended a follow-up training for them. Therefore we created a template of a simple business plan. We wanted tostart a discussion with each group to collect the business ideas and find a way to follow them on the way to their first try of an own business. Unfortunately I was not able to finish this project in my 7-week stay in Uganda but I hope that I can continue it back from Germany.
There is a unique chance to create a place for new inventions and hope for the youth in Karamoja. In my opinion this simple training could get a paragon character for the whole region and could give incentives to other youth groups.
By Tobias Block (05.10.2012)
A brief preview of the app and what it can do to help keep kids from disadvantaged backgrounds in school.
I am honored to have been selected as SHF Uganda’s Executive Director. Also, I would like to thank Edna Akullq for her support and assistance in helping me transition into this position. She has done an excellent job in providing leadership and direction keeping SHF Uganda moving forward since its foundation. Following in her shoes will not be easy but – with your input, participation and support – we can be assured that SHF has a bright future.
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Once again am honored to have been given the opportunity to be part of this great undertaking, and I look forward to the challenges and successes that we will find. I welcome your ideas and comments as we move forward. “When you work for a better world for all, you create a better future for yourselves” – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Self Help Foundation Uganda