Archive | July, 2010

HIV Outreach to Bakka

26 Jul

Currently we have 14 interns in the country working under the Empowering Africa ASK programme (Answers, Solutions and Knowledge regarding HIV/AIDS). They are students from Canada, China, Egypt, Greece, Kenya, the Netherlands, UK and USA who came to Uganda for 6-8 weeks. Most of them work in NGOs or hospitals half of the day and work in schools around Kampala to educate and sensitize school kids and youth regarding the scourge.

For this friday and saturday they had thought of a special outreach to a village called Bakka, around 1 hour drive from Kampala. On Friday they went to the 7 schools of the area and talked to over 1000 students about HIV/AIDS. At the same time ACI, a Voluntary Counselling and Testing Organization offered free VCT and tested over 200 village and educated even more on the disease and the preventive ABC (incl. condom use).

On Satuday the testing continued and they had planned a soccer match between the locals and the guests from Kampala (whites but also three Ugandan AIESECers). Of course I had to go and see a bit of the beautiful Ugandan landscape, experience a more original setting and cheer for the Wazungu Team.

The day was a total success, it was hot and sunny, beautiful hilly landscape and lots of fun between interns and locals.

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My pretty team :)

23 Jul

Finally I got the pictures of our AIESEC Dinner…

Have a look at my pretty team!

From the left: Eunice, Joyce, Donah, Prima, Manuela, Jimmy, Eva and Matthew

Seated: Ivan and Frank

The night when we sat around the candle

15 Jul

Having no electricity and water is also sometimes nice. Fast food from outside instead of cooking, candlelight, no movies and just sitting down and talking. This blog post mainly consists of some notes during the discussion of 15 young people with chinese origin, Canadian and US background, Germans, Indians, Kenyans and Ugandans.

Feelings around the bombblast

Publicly announced that Uganda will experience terror. 2 bombs killing over 60 in an hour that was planned to be full of joy in the whole world and uniting nations. The Worldcup final was used as an instrument to target an innocent crowd.

Shocked by how close terrorism can come to your own doorstep. Relief our friends and family were not involved. It could have hit someone amongst us, the place of the accident is a very common place for students. Fear for the next days. Insecurity where to go and where not. The chinese embassy does not answer their phone. One intern got an ultimatum from her parents to return home within the next 24 hours.

What does Africa need?

A big question but worth asking. Of course the discussion quickly goes to the lines that some europeans draw on the map, tribes pushed together, families split. All true points, but not pointing to a solution.

Mainly we believe, Africa needs leaders.

People, who can life without stereotyping. And act as leaders and encourage even the everyday old lady (“The Muslims have bombed us”) to look at things outside of categories.

Africa needs a sense of unity!

Clearly, terrorism is underway to undermine the opportunities that the East African Community was meant to offer to Uganda: Kenya has porous borders to Somalia, borders between Kenya and the other EAC countries are open now. Workers in Mombasas port wait for ships, which influences trade also in Uganda and Rwanda.
Mindsets need to change: Let us work together, in the real sense of togetherness

Leaders who can take the tough decisions. And not chicken out of areas of responsibility.
Uganda sent troops to Somalia. So Museveni took a tough decision… Was it also the right one?

Somebody today said: “Uganda should not be in Somalia at all. Let this be solved by the USA.”  We discussed this statement and a remarkable quote is.

“If your neighbours house burns, you have two options:
You either pour water on your own house, which keeps on evapurating OR you pour water on his house.”

Is AIESEC relevant?

Man, this question is really as old as AIESEC itself. But after a day like this we really ask ourselves. Can AIESEC actually deal with terrorism?

AIESEC has sent 10,000 students on international exchange experiences in the last 12 months. If every intern touches 50 lives in his host country and 49 lives after returning home, we have shown 1 million people the beauty of having a friend abroad. We have broken prejudices, made friendships across lines on the map.

If!

Can someone be a change agent, when they cant even tell their parents about the nice sides of Uganda?
Can someone be a change agent, if they have not even hosted an intern at their house?

Electricity came back just after midnight.
The lives of the over 60 killed by terrorists not!

All that in one weekend

12 Jul

Monday morning, am sitting in the office and reflecting on the last 48 hours. A weekend with very  mixed feelings and a very sad end.

Saturday morning cleaning the house for two hours with the other girls, followed by a very nice breakfast. Milkrice and feally nice strawberry jam that a chinese intern brought. Powercut on sasturdays? unusual but possible… In the afternoon we attended the graduation ceremony of one of our MC members. I was holding a speech (!), we met the family elders from the village, had great food and I got a great insight into how a tranditional family functions. In the evening the Germany match, cold beer, playing pool with our chinese housemates and finally dancing until 4am in a club.

Sunday was a relatively lazy day, just doing laundry, hanging out around the house, the heat made us very lazy. Also the fact that we didnt have water in the tabs and the tank was empty contributed to us relaxing in pyjamas the whole day and not cooking or washing any dishes 🙂 We had to explain the interns to not use the toilets in the house, but the outside latrines, which got most of them by surprise. I worked a bit on my laptop in the afternoon but felt like doing something more active. Then the reliefing call of one of our alumni: He reserved us 10 Tickets to watch the worldcup final in the cinema. We called some of the interns and my team members and rushed to town to watch the match sponsored by Coke on one of the largest screens in the country.

The match turned out to be equally exciting and depressing (mainly due to the fact that just 4 days ago I wanted to see the Germans playing the final rather than the Spanish). After 110 minutes the first goal, but at the same time one of my friends received a call and told us there is an emergency with his brother and left. At midnight we decided to go home and not watch the cup ceremony fully. On the way out we received calls whether we are ok, people had heard of bombings in town.

We jumped on a car of a friend and he drove us home. After just 5 minutes we passed a blocked road and crowds of people. BBC was interviewing, people were crying on the roadside, women screaming. Just half an hour ago a bomb had exploded at a rugby club where hundreds of people had watched the match on a big screen outside. From hearsay we knew of another bomb in a restaurant and got really worried about our dutch friends who had gone to Iguana, a big restaurant with hundreds of internationals watching the worldcup matches on a daily base.

After this shock, the last incident of the night looks rather minor. Somehow blue colour had poured on our footpath home. One of us slipped on it, fell in a trench and hit his lip on a stone and started bleeding. Most of us stepped in the colour, some clothes got blue stains. At home there was still no water, but at least we disinfected his wounds using Johnny Walker.

Already in bed I saw the reason as to why my friend had left earlier on facebook. His brother was in the rugby place and he had to take him to hospital. He wrote that the sight of the dead, injured and burnt is unbearable.

I could really not fall asleep easily that night! Just now one of our members entered the office and said one of his classmates died. Just like that!

Some info about the bombings in German or English

Our House!

8 Jul

We moved into our house 3 weeks ago. In the last days we got more and more furniture as gifts and also our kitchen is well equipped by now. We have space for 17 people and currently we are a well mixed group from Germany, Kenyan, Uganda, China and Canada.

The house warming party had around 90 guests, at least 50 of them were interns 🙂