Now well into my second week in Kampala, I am feeling significantly more comfortable with how this city operates. For example, now when I get lost on a boda boda, I attribute more of the blame on the driver than on myself as I give him street names, neighborhood, landmarks. Even though we are equally as clueless, I at least have a valid excuse. In a place where English is the official language, I found it a bit frustrating for the first week, given my prior ability to communicate destinations even in places with language barriers.
After familiarizing myself with the history of fundraising at RLP, I see that there is a great deal of progress to be made. Much of the activity in this area is a bit haphazard, and an elaborate system and strategy needs to be devised. I have created a spreadsheet, which should make record-keeping extremely efficient. At the moment, much of the information resides in random computers and the trusty old filing cabinet. This week, I have worked on a number of proposals: drafting, revising, summarizing… I guess those legal writing classes on persuasive techniques had an immediate payoff. By the end of the summer, I am envisioning a business plan inclusive of funding strategies and other marketing materials. I am itching to get a powerpoint presentation together, and I thought those days were behind me.
Best of all, I have also started to interview refugees through the Legal Aid clinic about their experiences. At the moment, I am trying to understand the treatment of unaccompanied minors and urban women. Frequently, I find myself wishing that I had become fluent in French because of all the refugees here from Congo and Rwanda. It has been quite disheartening to learn of all the problems that accompany good intentions. The work of international aid organizations not only preserve poor conditions but in certain instances have exacerbated them. For example, by being forced into the refugee settlements, children are much more vulnerable to recruitment into rebel forces (when I say vulnerable I do not mean to imply choice) because it is often the case that there is limited educational or other opportunities. I have heard that Right to Play at least mitigates those circumstances. With meetings regarding the repatriation of Rwandan refugees and on the incompatible concept of justice by the ICC intervention, I am happily absorbing background on conflict and post-conflict dynamics and its impact on forced migration. The situation in the north is still tenuous with over a hundred abductions over the past couple of weeks.
A few days ago I participated in my first “hash,” which apparently is international. Someone mentioned that their motto is, “Drinkers with a running problem.” It is quite a sight for the locals: a bunch of Mzungus and locals running together through the streets of Kampala. The shared taxis (their form of public buses) which are always barreling down the street somehow had no problem stopping traffic for the crowds of runners/hashers (running and walking). This presented me with a chance to improve my navigation skills as we trekked all over the city. After over an hour of running in confusion, I had to chug a beer and introduce myself to the large group. How special, I think I am going to be a regular as it provides my only outlet for exercise these days. Information can be found at http://gotothehash.net/
Combinations here are quite extraordinary: the contrast between the slums and the golf course (smack dab in the center), homeless people who own mobile phones, the speed at which people drive and the speed (or lack thereof) at the checkout line.
Posted By Eun Ha Kim (Uganda)
Posted Jun 5th, 2005