Hello from Buyobo! Notes from the 2017 College Intern Team

Hello from Buyobo!

This blog post is coming to you from WMI’s 2017 Buyobo Intern Team, and we are so excited to tell you a bit about what we have been up to this summer.

We arrived in Buyobo six weeks ago and have been busy learning from the amazing Buyobo Women’s Association staff ever since. We have learned so much that we feel we must’ve been here longer than six weeks! At the same time, it feels as if we have just arrived. Our departure date is looming- only a little over two weeks away- and we are all wishing we didn’t have to head back to school quite so soon.

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The 2017 intern team: (L-R) Julia Dreher (University of Michigan), Vince Dewar (Florida State University) and Emmanuella Kyei Manu (Princeton University.)

In these past weeks, we have been working on a variety of projects that will document the work of BWA and WMI in Buyobo. Emmanuella has been leading the intern team in compiling the annual fact book for WMI which analyzes the impact of the loan program on borrowers and Buyobo as a whole. Analyzing the quantitative and qualitative impacts of the loan program on borrowers was illuminating; income increased by 428% and every borrower said that their lives had been made better since they became involved in the loan program! However, it was even more astonishing when we conducted borrower interviews. We visited the women in their places of work to hear stories about the impact of the loan program on themselves, their businesses and their families. We were met with warm smiles, inspiring stories and, on occasion, a chapatti or two.

Another way in which we are capturing the stories of borrowers and staff is by creating short videos. Led by Julia, we have chosen to feature the impacts of the Water Source Renovation Project, which was completed in September 2016 in partnership with local government. In addition, Julia is leading the team to create a video that celebrates WMI’s ten years in Buyobo. We are truly excited to be working closely with BWA’s many partners and learning more about the community projects it oversees.

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Emmanuella and Julia document Girl’s Group graduation.

Beyond documenting the work of WMI through the loan program and community development initiatives, Vince is leading the team in setting up a climate resiliency project to support WMI’s borrowers who are farmers. The project hopes to better equip farmers in Buyobo to withstand the effects of changing climate patterns on their crop yields.

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The intern team with members of Buyobo’s Volunteer Health Team, a community-level health initiative supported by BWA.

Apart from undertaking these large projects, Emmanuella and Julia have been assisting in running Girls’ Group, a program that provides P5 and P6 girls with health and entrepreneurship lessons. They were especially lucky to be able to witness the graduation ceremony of last cohort before beginning a new 10-week course with a different cohort of girls. Despite not being able to witness a Boys’ Group graduation, Vince has still jumped in and assisted the Boys’ Group instructor in teaching health and entrepreneurship lessons to P5 and P6 boys.

Outside of our time at work we have enjoyed spending weekends exploring Uganda. We attempted to help our neighbors prepare a traditional Ugandan meal, hiked Wanale Ridge, visited Sipi Falls, ridden inner tubes down the Nile, spent time on the Ssese Islands on Lake Victoria, and so much more!

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Emmanuella and Julia help to serve matooke, the Ugandan staple food, at a community lunch hosted by BWA’s neighbor, Irene (left). 

We have all been so grateful to spend our summer here in Buyobo. We appreciate all of the sites we’ve seen, people we’ve met, stories we’ve heard and lessons we’ve learned. We cannot wait to jump into the next two weeks in Buyobo—though we could wait a little longer to say goodbye!

Thank you for taking the time to read a bit about our experience. We hope that you love hearing about WMI as much as we love working here.

Best,

WMI Buyobo Intern Team

 

 

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