Madras to Mbarara-The story of a Commoner
Being the youngest of nine cousins, I was a pampered kid, who had always been provided with whatever I wanted, even without having asked them out loud. It’s already been a month here in Uganda and this particular post is about my initial experiences from my first ever independent life in a whole new continent.
Initially, when I got selected for my pulse assignment at Uganda, I was very enthusiastic and I enjoyed preparing everything for the deployment. But, when the D-day came, I was not able to control my emotions, when I reached the airport. It was really hard for me to bid good bye to my friends and family for a period of 6 months. After a tiresome journey of about 24 hours, I reached Entebbe. I found the climate pleasing, as it was raining when I reached. Robert, the driver, who is working in our project, was waiting outside to drive me to Mbarara, which is 300 kms away from Entebbe. Robert, an accountant by education and who had a lot of opportunities outside Uganda, had chosen to stay in Uganda to raise his children (five boys and a girl) in a righteous way. My first few interactions with him made me realize that he is not going to be just my driver for the next 6 months, but also a great guide who will make my stay here more exciting and informative. He made my first meal in his country really special by taking me to the restaurant where the equator line passed through. Also, I had spent for the first time a minimum of 1000’s which is new to any Indian. Breathing through the beauty of Lake Victoria, after a drive of about 4 hours from the Ugandan Equator, I reached Mbarara at 9.30 P.M. and got settled at Oxford Inn and called it a day.
Since it was a weekend, I had to wait for two days to meet the colleagues of my new project. I utilized the time to rest and to adjust myself to the little jet lag that prevailed. After meeting my new colleagues Tina & Naomi, I learnt about the progress being made in the project and planned an agenda for the month.
As my key goal is to create business opportunities for the vulnerable women in and around the villages of Uganda, I decided to jump right into the action without wasting the time further. The locality and the business to be set up, have already been decided by the Earth Institute after their detailed study on the actual situation in Uganda. All I had to do is to select the right women and help them to be better and more confident. I visited Bwizibwera, the proposed village, for setting up the Bakery business. I met the local leaders and made arrangements to conduct an Interview for selecting 10 women, who would work in the Eminyeeto Bakery Project. The biggest challenge that our team faced while interviewing was to understand the women who were vulnerable, yet being committed to empower themselves and needed an opportunity. Finally, after hours of long discussions, we recruited 10 women to work in the Eminyeeto Bakery.
Later, I had to report the recruitment details to Dr. John, the Team Leader for Local development, whose office was at district Headquarters in Ishingiro. This development office at Ishingiro provides space for different organizations who are working on various developmental projects at Uganda. I cannot resist myself from mentioning the beauty of the roads connecting the Mbarara, Bwizibwera & Ishingiro which has beautiful trees, lovely churches, Tea Plantations, Poultry, Matoke Gardens and what not.
In between my official work, I also had to multitask to find a place to stay, because my lodging was running out of my proposed budget. After roaming around the entire town looking for a place to stay, I met the owner of the hotel where I was staying then. He was excited to know about our project and when he found that I’m trying to do something which would contribute in the welfare of his people, he decided to give me a room for long stay at nominal price which did not create a hole in my budget. It was the first time when I had setup a kitchen on my own and started cooking and living my life on my own, independently.
And thus the stories continue..Please follow this space for my next post on the evolution of Eminyeeto Bakery.
Note:Since I had a lot of picture to share I made it a Video.Kindly watch the video attached to have a visual experience of my life at Uganda. 🙂