Descending into Entebbe, Uganda, the landscape was worlds different from Dubai, where I had a layover last night. While Dubai sprung from a desert with sparse shrubs, Uganda is lush with vegetation. Green grass, thick trees, grazing cows, and red dirt set the background for the view form the car on the hour-long ride from Entebbe to Kampala.
This is my first time out of the country alone, and I feel like a little kid in a candy shop, so eager to take in everything and do as much with my time as I can. I am here to work with the Twezimbe Development Foundation started by former personal private secretary to the President of Uganda. From what I hear she’s a powerful political figure and popular among Ugandans. I am staying in her house in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, and I feel very fortunate to be able to.
Driving around Kampala, I noticed that the city was actually a lot like some parts of China. Commercialization hasn’t really taken over and business consists of mom and pop shops selling their wares along the sidewalk, every shop window is small and right next to the next one. Fruit stands are often homemade and the many of the homes look like they were built by the families themselves. I noticed that a lot of them were carrying large yellow jugs. Shida, my Twezimbe helper, told me that 60-70% of families that live in Kampala don’t have running water so that have to fetch water in these yellow jugs, called Jerry cans from the water spout. Children and adults alike were carrying these around everywhere we passed.
Today I will be going to Twezimbe for my first day of work. Twezimbe Development Foundation was started by Madame Amelia after she stepped down from her position as secretary to the Pres. Madame petitions for monetary support from the government for certain projects that Twezimbe carries out. Their projects complement all parts of life, with a focus on rural villages. For educational support, Twezimbe builds and restores schools, and provides lunches and books for the kids. For agriculture, they distribute seedlings and give farmers technical support. They also give a cow to each farmer, then when the cow has a calf the farmer is to give the calf to another member of the community, in a program called “Give a Cow.” For economic support, they have taught women how to make crafts so that they can sell them in the markets. A lot of the young folk from the villages leave to go to the city, leaving the villages full of the elderly, which is a big problem. Also in the villages is the problem of domestic violence. While the culture in the cities has revolutionized so that women are seen more as equals with men, the villages have not caught on and women are not aware of their rights. I will be working with 4 schools, 2 of high SES and 2 of low SES, and talking to girls about body weight, body image, physical fitness, and obesity. More on that later when I make a plan of action at work today.