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Friday, June 19, 2015

David Batema-Gender Issues

Our last event of the seminar was listening to Judge David Batema speak about gender issues in Uganda. In Uganda, women are still seen as second-class citizens. One of the most important points that he made in relation to sustainable development, is that women have a great deal of economic potential, but because it remains untapped because they lack equal treatment in society. An interesting example that he used was that during a divorce, the man will often want all of the tangible items because he has a paying job. However, these men do not factor in the value of the woman at home. She cooks, cleans, and provides childcare all without pay. He also taught us about how women are kept down because the law in Uganda is written by men and for men.
Judge Batema enlightened our class on a variety of serious issues that women in Uganda face, such as: marital rape, inability to own property, and female genital mutilation. Many people stepped out during the short UNICEF film showing the FGM of a 6 year old girl, and those who stayed could barely watch. I'd say this was a very powerful and shocking moment, especially for those who were unaware that this practice exists. One of the reasons that women in Uganda do not always exercise the rights given to them by the Constitution, is because societal pressures and norms interfere. Women's rights are not always seen as valid, and a number of barriers still exist for women trying to gain equal access to the legal system. Judge Batema works to raise awareness about the need for gender equality and implement trainings for other judges so that they too may be sensitive to this issue. It was a very powerful day that shows both Ugandan and American students that there is still much progress to be made for gender equality.

Where should the line be drawn between respecting cultural practices and values and ensuring people's basic human rights?
How does the issue of gender equality relate to the pillars of social and economic sustainable development?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Red Chilli

Today is our final day in Kampala as we head out to Jinja later this morning. We've been staying at Red Chilli for the last two and a half weeks and our time here as certainly been enjoyable as I'm sure the other students can confirm. Lizards crawling on the wall and large spiders were a surprise at first, but the always smiling staff and pizza down by the pool certainly made us feel welcome. While I do not think I will miss the mosquito nets, the countless sunrises over the hill caught my breath every time. Red Chilli has become sort of like a second home to us and I know at least for me, it will feel strange waking up somewhere else this time next week. It has been our space to journal, share stories, take funny pictures of each other, and overall relax after a full day of events. This day marks the final leg of our journey and I think most of us are leaving Kampala with a hope of returning one day.

Feel free to share some of your favorite memories below!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Kikandwa Health Clinic

Our service day took place at Kikandwa Health Clinic. We arrived and listened to the chairperson and the coordinators speak and report what the clinic has been doing and what still needs to be accomplished, like electricity and running water, along with many other things. Then Drake students partnered with MUBS students and gathered information from the patients through a questionnaire that had been previously prepared. This provided a great opportunity for feedback, for example how many people think that having 24 hour care and a maternity ward would be extremely beneficial to the nearby villages. I was so grateful for the opportunity to go into the lab and see people tested for HIV, Malaria, Typhoid, and many more infections/ diseases. It was very touching listening to Dr. Bishop and Dr. Root talk about how far this project has come and they are glad all of the hard work is paying off- many people are benefitting from this clinic and it is positively changing many lives.

From talking to the members of the villages, what do you think would be the next important addition to the health clinic? Why?

Review of Small Business

One of the exciting things that we have gotten to do during our trip is take stops at local markets and other small businesses to buy souvenirs or any other strange object that we decide we just have to bring back to the United States. For me this was an especially interesting chance whenever we would stop at these locations because of my research into the Ugandan Economy, and how these shops function and also market is definitely a point of focus for my paper.
First thing that I noticed was that a lot of the shops would some times be selling similar or even identical products, yet the price would change in increments up and down the line of the small shops. I took this to mean that these shop keepers will sometimes trade among themselves in order to get product, if they see that one shop is selling a lot of a certain product and will then just play the game of chance that customers will stop at their shop and buy at a profitable price. Also bargaining is just part of the fun when you go to these craft markets, sometimes they are willing to play a little with the prices, but they also very rarely play nice about them though. It is much more common for them to press their own price, especially in Kampala compared to the other markets we visited, and the amount of consumers they sell to is considerably higher.
The final thing to be noted is that shops like this are very rarely registered with the government, which means that they are operating with little to no regulation and also no taxation. The overall effects range from the benefit of not losing any money taxes, but also removing yourself from the ability of any kind of government aid that could be available from being a registered business.
In terms of sustainable development, these small shops may not make it out if they do become formalized businesses. If taxes are levied on them they can't be a large amount of money because a lot of the money coming into these shops go back to buying more product in order to sell them and very little is kept as actual profit. Also if there is a movement for more formal small businesses to take hold in Kampala or other larger cities in Uganda these kinds of shops may be pushed out to more of the tourist locations such as the equator or other natural parks.
This a picture of all the guys with Patrick Bitature

Foundation For Human Rights Initiative

"Uganda is a country of contradictions." - Dr. Senwanyana
On Friday the 5th the Drake and MUBS team attended a meeting at the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative. Many different issues were discussed by Dr. Livingstone Senwanyana, including issues of democracy and development where Dr. Senwanyana remarked, "democracy goes hand in hand with development."
We spent some time discussing various issues of human rights and factors of sustainable development, such as the elections, the primary government institutions, agriculture, 83% unemployment, prisons, abuse, women's challenges "despite affirmative action", a police force that has yet to "do their job free of corruption" as well as some of Dr. Senwanyana's own personal challenges involving the government. Through a few bold quotes and an afternoon of dynamic learning, Dr. Senwanyana summed up the meeting and left students, and professors, with something to really think about.

Health Care in Uganda

Health care in U.S. is very different from health care in Uganda. For example, when a group of students and I visited the international hospital, Mulago, we were shocked! Many people were crammed in a small trauma unit and didn't have access to proper health care/medication. Regardless of the the care and attention the patients received at the hospital, they were smiling and excited to see us. At the Mengo Hospital people had access to either private care or public care. The private care insured better doctors and medicine, while the other didn’t. However, this is my view. How did the hospital make you feel? What do you thing should be changed about the health care field in Uganda?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Reach Out Microfinance

Today we went to Reach Out, which is an organization that helps people get out of of poverty and live more sustainable lives. It's emphasis is on people with HIV/AIDS assisting them with education, medication, and financial support.  Not only do they focus on physical constraints, they also look into other problems such as family life. Reach Out focuses on a holistic approach, which includes more than the simply the medication issue. They have groups formed that visit different homes,rural areas, and hostiles to make sure that children and families with HIV/AIDS are receiving the support they need. After walking through the different organizations and branches of Reach Out, we were able to sit in on one of the private banking meetings that they had. Once there, in a group from 15 to 30 people, we saw how they keep their books, collect welfare, and manage savings accounts provided by Reach Out.

Namugongo Catholic Martyrs Shrine

Today we visited Namugongo where 24 Catholic martyrs were killed. These martyrs were killed by the King of Buganda, which is located in the southern portion of Uganda. 13 of the Catholic men were burned at this site, while others were chopped into pieces, beheaded, or speared to death. The reason for their deaths vary, as some angered the king and talked back to him, and others pleaded against his orders and refused to give into his demands that conflicted with their religion.

This site is composed of numerous shrines dedicated to those that stood by their faith. Along with the shrines, a Minor Basilica stands on the grounds of the site. On June 3rd of every year, over a million religious men and women embark on a pilgrimage to the shrine to recognize the annual Martyrs Day religious holiday.

Overall, this day proved to be very impactful. Each and every one of us were deeply saddened by the deaths of the martyrs. While at the shrine, many of us reflected on the events and how they impacted our lives, as well as offer prayers in the Basilica. The day was definitely vital to our learning on sustainable development in Uganda, as it pertained directly to the social pillar.

A couple questions I have for the fellow students are what was the most interesting fact you learned? as well as what sort of emotions did you feel after visiting?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Entrepreneurship in Uganda

We had the opportunity to learn from one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Uganda, Patrick Bitature. Patrick began his influence in Uganda by founding Simba Telecom, one of the largest cellular service providers in Uganda. He chose to enter the telecom industry to satisfy the basic need of communication with the goal of making phones more accessible to more people. Since the success of his telecom business, Patrick has involved himself in a variety of industries such as property(hotels, office blocks, and apartments), electricity/power, education, agriculture, and micro finance, We also were able to see some of his work in motion when we visited the building site for Patrick's new hotel called Naguru Skyz. 

Our discussion with Patrick involved challenges faced by Uganda as a whole as well as what he and the Simba Group have done to create movement in each of the challenges. Here are some key notes that I took away from our conversation with Patrick:

  • Basic or already existing businesses can be the biggest opportunities. A successful business doesn't necessarily have to be innovative, but rather start with an existing concept and perform better service. 
  • We need to see the importance of creating jobs beyond supplying people with an income. 
  • One of the biggest opportunities in Uganda is Agribusiness.
What an incredible opportunity to learn from such an influential player not only in the business world but also in the Ugandan economy. It was intriguing to hear Patrick's view on what the biggest challenges are in Uganda and how to address them as well as how to be a successful entrepreneur. 


Today, we visited TASO, The Aids Support Organization.  At TASO we heard about the history of the organization and the different clinical, counseling, social, and teaching programs available for the surrounding community.  We also met Herriot, a woman with HIV who uses her diagnosis to help other women with HIV by selling crafts at TASO.  The profits from the craft shop go to the Mulago Positive Women's Network.

I thought it was great to see the strides that Uganda has made in the fight against HIV/ AIDS.  With the government providing free medication and TASO's support systems, they are reducing the stigma that can be associated with HIV.

City Secondary School

Yesterday we went to City Secondary School. When we first arrived there was a marching band to welcome us.  We sat with the entire school and listened to a few different speakers.  Two of the City Secondary School students showed us how talented they were when they disassembled and reassembled a computer, it was very impressive.  The school dance team performed for us and they were very good.  One of my way favorite parts was noticing that the school makes an effort to give the students a chance to work towards their goals.  The teacher at City Secondary School that I am working on my project with, Mr. Mugabi, cares about the students having opportunities outside of their studies, he gives them chances at being in leadership positions and knows that clubs and organizations are essential to helping students succeed.  Another thing that was really cool was learning about how much of an impact Drake University has made at City Secondary by giving them the computers over the years.  It was an amazing experience to witness how much those computers have helped and see that they are utilizing them as much as possible.  We also played volleyball and football (soccer) with some of the students.  It was an awesome experience and I felt incredibly honored to be there.  The relationship City Secondary School and Drake University has is extremely special and a great thing.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Ndere Centre Dance Troupe

Traveling to the Ndere Center, we were able to learn traditional music, dance, and drama in Uganda. We learned about the three different types of people involved in music that included agricultural references, living experiences, and people that are always on the move learning new things. All of the instruments that were used were made from membrane and dry wood in order to avoid the manufacturing process. We started out the day by a bit of background on Ugandan culture, followed by learning a choice of traditional dance, xylephone, drums, or the adungu (Ugandan guitar). We then performed our newly learned skill in front of the entire group. After we learned these, we were welcomed to a buffet with dinner and a show! We got to watch everyone in action doing different tribes traditional music, dance, and the main speaker's drama act in Uganda. Randomly towards the end of the show, Trey, Mia, Mitch and I were called up to demonstrate our newly learned skill of the xylophone in front of the whole crowd. The night was concluded with everyone coming on stage and dancing together; it was a very fun and eventful evening!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sure Prospects Institute

Our day at Sure Prospects Institute was eye-opening for me. Sure Prospects is a school for students with disabilities and those without disabilities. We met with Francis, the principal, and he was able to give is an overview of how his school works and how he's changing these children's lives for the better.
Under Francis, the school has expanded to almost 500 students, 173 of which have some type of disability, whether it be physical, mental or learning. Sure Prospects is unique because of their approach to helping those with disabilities by assigning 3 students without disabilities to assist one with a disability. There is no separation of disabled and not disabled in this school, unlike most schools in the United States. I think that this is an amazing way to help disabled children learn, overcome their disabilities, and help them to feel like their disability doesn't define who they are as a person. I was amazed and inspired by Francis and the work he is doing to help these children.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Murchison Falls

During our time in Murchison Falls National Park we got to experience two game drives, a hike to the top of Murchison Falls, and a boat tour of the Nile River.  The experience as a whole was really incredible, and I can’t imagine that any Safari I might go to in the future could compare. 

The first day we arrived, after driving the 6 hours to get to the park we went on a game drive that took us into the Savanna of Africa, something the Drake students had yet to really experience.  On the road groups saw Elephants, an adult Lion, Giraffes (my personal favorite), antelope, the Ugandan Crane.  That night we were also met by several boars walking around Red Chili, and even later a Hippo.  Needless to say we were very excited to go on the second game drive and the boat drive the next day. 

On the second game drive we got to see lions again, but this time it was two adult female lions and three of their cubs, which was a real treat.  The boat ride on the Nile also had us seeing even more Hippos, weighing in at up to 3 to 5 tons.   The waterfall was really something to see as well.  On the hike the last day in Murchison we got all the way up to the top, and were able to see the remnants of a bridge someone had once tried to construct crossing over then.  Of course the rapids of the longest river on Earth are far to powerful for the small bridge someone had made on the waterfall.

On of my favorite takeaways (apart from the amazing pictures) was hearing about some of the stories my safari guide could tell the group.  She told us able watching an elephant give birth, as well as witnessing a lion trying to get into a van to attack a woman who had apparently scarred away her prey.  My questions for the group are: What was your favorite part of trip? What was your favorite animal? And what was the most interesting thing that you were able to learn while in Murchison.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sure Prospects School

Today we got the awesome opportunity to travel to Sure Prospects School. Sure Prospects is a school for kids both with and without disabilities, be it a mental, physical or learning disability. Around 500 students attend this primary school, 173 of them having disabilities. The school is run by an incredible man named Francis Kamuhanda, who has a disability himself. After college, Francis noticed how shunned the disabled population of Uganda was. A lot of children born with disabilities are locked away and never let outside their homes, if they're lucky enough not to be killed. He opened a school that would benefit kids from all over Uganda with disabilities, and eventually opened his doors to students without disabilities as well. Francis and his team of educators help to educate kids and give them hope for a future, and to make them feel like accepted members of society. For every three kids who aren't disabled, there's one student who is, and you can really see how much the children all help each other out. They were all so excited to see us, and loved taking pictures with our cameras and seeing themselves on screen. Drake put together a soccer team who played the Sure Prospects team, and wow did Drake have to put up a fight! We brought the students bubbles, jump ropes, and calculators...all of which they loved. It was a really wonderful to hear how passionate Francis is about what he does. He makes sure not only all of his students get a good education and have bright futures, but also that his teachers are well educated in teaching students with disabilities. The school still faces challenges however, including water accessibility, lack of funds, and the lack of support from the government. Hopefully in the future the school can expand so Francis can expand his amazing school and help educate and provide a future to kids with disabilities.