This summer spent in Buyobo interning for WMI has been such a rewarding and informative experience. It was so hard to say goodbye to all the incredibly hard-working and kind women I got to know this summer at BWA, and watch the trees and mountains pass for the last time on the car ride out of the village, but I know I will come back some day.
Now that I’ve spent a few weeks back at home reflecting on the summer, I realized that I’ve really learned a lot over the past few months, and not only in the ways I expected. On the job, I learned all sorts of new business related skills, like data analysis and graphic design, but I also learned some Lugisu phrases, how to be more flexible and creative due to the the temperamental internet situation, and how important it is to reapply sunscreen after spending a few hours around town conducting interviews with WMI borrowers!
Some of my favourite memories from my internship come from the time spent with the kids who are a part of the orphan outreach program. I loved playing new games with the kids each week, whether Cerina and I were the ones introducing them or the kids taught us. It was really sweet to see the kids reading and colouring on rainy days, and I love that I got to take home some of their adorable pictures. Also, the girls seemed to really enjoy giving me makeovers whenever they got their hands on my hair – which was essentially any time I sat down. It was one of the most refreshing parts of my week, to be around a whole bundle of kids having a good time, giggling and running around with so much energy. One memorable afternoon, one of the youngest girls got a scrape on her forehead, so I took out the first-aid kit and patched it up with a band-aid. Then, all of a sudden, EVERYONE then needed to have a band-aid on their head to look as cool as their friend, and before I knew it, all the band-aids were gone from the box, and on every girl’s head! I like to think I started a fashion trend in Buyobo that day…
I also really enjoyed designing and putting together the Fact Book, which allowed for a lot more fun and creativity than I had expected. It was interesting to see the whole process through from beginning to end, compiling all the data and calculating the statistics. It was eye opening to be seeing first hand the effects of the loan program, interviewing borrowers, visiting businesses and talking with the BWA Board of Directors about their experience with the loan program, and then realizing those effects could be multiplied more than 12,000 times across Uganda and Eastern Africa – it really put the value and success of the program into perspective for me. Looking at the statistics and data, and knowing the reality of empowered women and families they reflected was very encouraging. I especially enjoyed getting creative with the design process to take that information we compiled and calculated, and make it exciting and accessible for others to read. I am looking forward to seeing the published version very soon!
Over the last two months I spent in Buyobo and exploring Uganda, I met so many kind and welcoming people, and saw beautiful natural wonders I won’t forget. I can’t thank the women of WMI and BWA enough for the opportunity to join their team and work alongside them this summer, and I know I will be back to visit before I know it!
I have officially finished my internship with WMI. Upon reflection, I can honestly say that Uganda delivered in ways that I could never imagine! Firstly, I had more contact with local people than I have ever had when travelling in a different country; which made me feel very in touch with and attached to the country as a whole. I believe that I saw all of Uganda’s sides, as opposed to only those that are readily in a tourist’s sights. My internship was more than data entry and videography, it was building a relationship with the children who we hung out with weekly, learning about the realities of running a business in a rural landscape, and seeing firsthand how passion and hardwork can shape a community. It was a privilege to take part in the work that WMI is doing if only for a summer.
The second aspect of my time in Uganda that really exceeded my expectations was the natural beauty of the country! There were so many things to see, and so much to do. In just two months I hiked to the top of six waterfalls, went tubing and white water rafting down the Nile River, went on a coffee farm tour, went on a safari, watched the Fifa World Cup from bars, went sightseeing around Kampala and still managed to sunbathe by the pool most weekends. I have never thought of Uganda as a tourist destination before, but now I truly think it should be on the top of everybodies bucket lists.
I owe a huge thanks to WMI for making this summer happen, I will never, ever forget my time here!!!