I did not expect to be quite this happy to be back - my third time around in less than two years. The hospitality is nothing short of ridiculous, the weather is no less than the perfect balance of hot and dry, and the matatu and boda-boda rides are the lovely combo of bumpy and fast. Obviously I'm all the way up on the top of that 'U' of cultural adjustment, and will probably have a few downer thoughts along with caffeine withdrawal and the bout of malaria I'm bound to contract. 

We do have to sheepishly admit thought that our project begins as somewhat of a Nancy Drew investigation. But TIA (This is Africa) - it is what it is. Rebecca, Elizabeth and I are now charged with locating our Ugandan business partners on somewhat of a cross-country journey. In our prior communications, Immaculate (the Ugandan director of Empower U) simply told us 'we will meet'. No need for further elaborations, details or scheduling. On her part. Us kindled Type-A souls would have preferred a little more planning. Alas...

Now in Uganda's capital of Kampala, the three of us plot our next move. The plan is to head about four hours east toward Iganga and Jinja tonight, where several key members of Empower U's board of directors reside. We will meet with them and get in touch with Immaculate through them. We will then move toward Kumi, by backtracking (as always seems to be the case) through Kampala and then about six hours north. The majority of our project will be carried out in the rural Kumi area, where we will stay with Immaculate.

I would like to preface any conversation about our project by saying that Elizabeth, Rebecca and I do not claim to be anything more than the mzungus (foreigners) that we are. We do not expect to fully understand the complexity of the issues in the communities we work in. However, it is our close friendships and great partnerships with community members that give me hope for our project. They are really the ones who lead and make decisions for their own communities - we're here to learn from them and to invest the funds we were fortunate enough to collect from our supporters.

- Jen
7/19/2011 08:59:51 am

I love your last paragraph...more people in development need this attitude. Love you girls and stay safe!

7/21/2011 12:41:21 am

Your sentiments are genuine and straight forward, as usual...I look forward to following your journey here. Keep us posted and stay safe!

Invisible Hand
7/25/2011 10:31:20 am

I like your last paragraph too. It is very important, in my opinion, to let local people who know their real needs to make investment decisions.

Invisible Hand
7/25/2011 12:14:55 pm

Another comment. Same goals may be achieved even more effectively and efficiently by setting up a for profit organization,say, Venture Capital fund.
What do you think,guys?


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    Elizabeth, Rebecca and Jen

    The three of us are spending July and August on the Empower U project in Kumi, Uganda. We will be recording our (mis)adventures here.


    August 2011
    July 2011