What are we doing in Uganda?

Well now that we’ve been here for a couple of months, I figure it’s high time for me to write about the main reason we’re here: my job!

I’m working for an organization called International Community Empowerment Fund (ICEF): www.icefcanada.org, based in Vancouver, Canada.  ICEF has partnered with Tekera Resource Centre (TRC): www.tekera.org, a Ugandan NGO, to help TRC fund and manage its community development work in Tekera Village, Uganda.  TRC aims to provide affordable services for this community where services are otherwise inaccessible.  These services include a health clinic, an elementary school, a farmer’s cooperative and community farm, and a women’s craft club/microfinance program.

My job as the ICEF Field Director at TRC is to liaise between ICEF and TRC.  Basically this means that I’m responsible for ensuring the smooth transfer of funds from Canada to Uganda, for writing monthly reports for ICEF, for keeping international donors up to date about TRC’s work, and for coordinating international volunteers.  I also end up doing things like managing staff, facilitating day-to-day operations, and writing grant proposals.

This year our goal is “to hand over the centre to the community.”  Although all of our staff, excluding myself, are Ugandan, we believe that the centre will be more sustainable with more community involvement.  We plan to start this process by performing project evaluations that highlight the perspective community members have about the services the centre provides and how they’re operating.

I’ve found that my previous job as Office Assistant at Mission Possible: www.mission-possible.org has provided me with many of the practical skills that I’m using here, and my education in International Development Studies has provided me with the critical thinking skills that I’m using to evaluate the work that TRC is doing…more to come on this!

Now, to answer the question: what’s Paul doing here?

Although he’s not officially employed by ICEF or TRC, Paul does a lot to help out here.  I’d say his main role is driving me around.  Since I’ve lived in cities without a car for the past 5 years of my life, I wouldn’t call my recent driving experience plentiful.  Compound this with needing to learn how to drive standard, how to drive on the left side of pothole infested roads, minimal rules or logic to traffic, and I’d say it’s safer to keep me out of the driver’s seat (for now anyways)!  All this to say, it’s quite useful to have a reliable mode of transport given that my job requires me to get into town on a weekly basis – for “high speed” internet, errands, etc.

Paul does a bunch of other random tasks at the centre too.  His most recent, and quite large, project has been completing a short video to help ICEF raise funds for TRC (hopefully we can post this soon).  Overall, he’s a very handy volunteer support staff member!

In addition to these things, Paul has been working for www.convergemagazine.com as a writer and editor, and has been doing some of his own writing as well.

So, this is what we’re doing in Uganda.  We’re not “saving Africa” or anything glamorous like that.  We’re just working for causes we believe in and we’re really thankful for the opportunity to do it.  Remembering this is (among other things) what keeps us going on the days that we’re sick, when work at the centre is difficult, when Paul can’t write because there’s no solar power for his computer or the internet isn’t working, and when we’re asking ourselves: “What are we doing in Uganda?”

Encouraging words from family & friends

Love: Encouraging words from family & friends

The village we call home

Tekera: The village we call home

Paul's workout buddies

Bros: Paul’s workout buddies

We recently showed our P7 students a National Geographic movie for their Wild Animals unit.

We recently showed our P7 students a National Geographic movie for their Wild Animals unit.

Kampala Kampala

Kampala Kampala

Some of my favourite evening visitors

Little Women: Some of my favourite evening visitors

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