Where in the world Today?

Home Sweet Home

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Still no elephants, though I have been promised Zebras at Lake Mburo National Park, a park just outside Mbarara which we hope to visit one day this week.

We have settled into Mbarara, living in a house rented for use by Ainembabazi interns. There are currently ten of us here, which is the most they have ever had at one time. Everyone has their own projects to focus on in one of two counties in which Ainembabazi supports orphans, Kinoni and Kyabugimbi Projects include agricultural initiatives, education programs, health and AIDs education, micro-finance lending, and youth work. The other interns are all University students in some capacity or other and Troy and I are once again the old dogs. We are getting used to being ‘old’ by typical volunteer standards. It is fun to watch as people bite their tongues when describing siblings, or friends, or professors in their 30’s as ‘old’ before considering their company…I guess no one told them that 30 is the new 20! We have discovered over the last 6 months that age truly is just a number.

Troy is holding up rather well though considering he is living with 8 women. He has been hiding in our room a substantial amount though and doing a lot of reading, mostly about Africa. We are both trying to use some of our free time here to learn more about some history and Africa’s past. The group here is fairly passionate about all things ’developing world’ related as most are studying in the field of political science, community health, or medicine. It has been interesting to hear the discussions and the debates that ensue. It seems that nightly we are discussing a controversial topic and true to form Troy always seems to say just the right thing to get everybody excited and worked up and he ofcourse does this with a big grin on his face.

With two weeks down, we are slowly moving our youth project forward. That is how things happen here. Slowly. We met with the youth on Thursday night to find out the goals of the group. There were about 14 youth aged 13 to 18 in attendance. It was determined that with school, homework, and other responsibilities at home, they were able to commit Saturday afternoons to some sort of youth group activity. They had tried to organize themselves in the past but without sufficient ’adult’ mentorship, the group kept falling flat. Not short on ideas, (football and dance ranked high on their list of interests, so did drama, music, art, netball, volleyball, AIDS awareness, human rights, first aid, and crafts, just to name a few…) what they were lacking was the know-how, the resources, the contacts, and any process to bring these things to life

We are here for such a short time and while it would be fun to simply be youth group leaders for eight weeks, it is important for us to try to figure out how to provide a sustainable impact. What happens when we leave? And so with the aim of creating a self-governing, sustainable youth committee, we have established our goal as setting up the framework and processes for the group which will facilitate them operating on their own when there are no interns around to facilitate.

After our second meeting with the youth on Saturday which included a discussion on their overall structure in addition to some teamwork, leadership and communication games (thank goodness for 4-H camp and a good memory!), it was decided by the group to dedicate every second Saturday to sports and alternating Saturdays to some other ‘social‘ activity, be it a discussion topic, a guest speaker, a workshop, or whatever. Troy and I will be planning the activities while we are here and will transfer this responsibility to the newly formed Sport Committee and Social Committee when we leave. We are currently drafting a Kinoni Youth Committee (KYC) Guideline document outlining the roles of their newly formed executive and committees, a meeting schedule, and proposing how to work together with Ainembabazi staff to secure resources.

While working with the youth to form a sustainable youth committee is our primary role here, we will also be getting involved in some other projects. We will be working to get an agricultural project off the ground, partnering with a governmental agency whose aim is to educate on ways to increase soil productivity and repair land degradation, Troy will be working with both communities teaching basic first aid to both the guardians and teenagers and I will be working with two other volunteers to do some strategic planning and needs assessing. There may also be an opportunity to work on a community garden project that is just getting underway. Will hopefully have more to add on these things later….

1 comment:

  1. Wow, sound like you guys have your work cut out for ya! The youth in that community is lucky to have volunteers so committed to making a sustainable impact!! Way to go guys!