An African proverb is always connected to family, relationships and nature. Today I will use an East African Kiswahili saying to describe a slice of my own nostalgia about this past year’s work:
Uharaka haraka uzaa mtoto mchanga.
In Uganda, work is often rewarded with smiles, gratefulness and humble beginnings of hope. This proverb means that any work you must do, don’t go so quickly without reflection, otherwise your work will be wrong. Discern with attention; it will be right. Nowhere is this more true perhaps than with each day at Bududa Learning Center.
Some highlights from 2015-2016: (Some happy, some not-so-happy but important)
- Laughter in the staff room with faculty at 10:00 for Tea time
- Teaching Performing Arts to students, followed by giggles and many, many animal noises
- Watching James, the 2015 Coordinator, help a young girl get medical care
- Speaking at a funeral for a lost and never-forgotten one of our own
- Bududa Learning Center winning a part of $10,000 Canadian grant by MasterCard Foundation
- Walking through the dry-packed mud in the heat on the way to work. Never gets old.
- Becoming a crowd-funding superstar on our Global Giving fundraising site.
- Seeing our interns play different versions of ‘paddy-cake’ with young girls and boys while swinging them up in the air. Watching them sing in English happily but unsteadily.
- Traveling to Pianupe Game Reserve with Anne-Sophie, Jess & Kashif in the wild
- Helping Isaac, a dedicated student, improve his English steadily over months of tutoring
- Seeing multiple donations and generous giving to new and old students at Children of Bududa
- Trekking to the radio tower with Sheila, international coordinator of CoB
- Delivering the final uniform sets to Wagagai, Limited for our third project in less than two years
- Researching village family life through a focus group on family/parenting issues. Seeing people get excited about talking it through!
- The first day I arrived in Bududa – meeting Justine, the sweetest Guesthouse Manager we could ever, ever ask for. Becoming her adopted daughter
- Barbara organising a 24-hour pop up medical treatment clinic with Rotary International
- Buying chapatti (cheapest Indian food around) whenever and wherever.
- Knowing things matter, from visiting a family home to writing a donor report
- Climbing to the top of several Bududa hills with teenage tour guides
- Getting the results for Primary-7 exams and seeing one of our most disadvantaged students get the highest marks. Bravo Sandra!
- Being a part of counselling with Martha, senior social worker, to many girls who needed to know they were listened to and valued
- Hosting a special holiday cinema day during BVA student time-off before Christmas
- Missing home and yet, feeling at home in Bududa
Hope is a many-splendored thing and with it, the promise of more. Even though I am no longer in Bududa I am proud that I am still connected to the people, the culture and the country. As the proverb says: Discern with attention; it will be right. This is why I believe reflecting on our work is so key to understanding our work. Somedays I wish I was in Uganda. Yet I feel like a part of me is at all times. Many non-profit organisations and team members glamorise this world. It is not glamorous. At least, it is not to me.
However that is what makes it so real.
The people are humble. The natural roads, trees, forests, carvings through mud and concrete homes on dirt footpaths all stick in my mind. Even more so is the fact that despite the hardships the reality does not get people down. Ugandan citizens are strong and they are connected to their society in a way so many of us are not in the ‘digital’ space we live in on other realms. We are enthralled by minutiae. We are disconnected. Life may be harder in Uganda, but it is certainly connected. Everyone is related and known to one another which makes it hard to say goodbye. We will always feel that we connected and that means we hope for more.
So that’s my wish today. I hope for a better Uganda and hope for strength for all of us so far away.
Submitted by: KIMBERLY BEEBE
Assistant Director (2016)