Chris Markomanolakis (Uganda)

Christopher Markomanolakis graduated from Towson University in 2012 with degrees in Political Science and Metropolitan. He served in the United States Peace Corps as a community health volunteer for three years (2014-2017). During the first two years, he worked on a wide variety of projects/programs including water sanitation, youth empowerment, HIV/AIDS awareness, increasing the capacity of health care providers, and many more. After the first two years, Chris became an Assistant Project Manager with Catholic Relief Service’s Accelerating Stunting Reduction Program which focused on reducing stunting by providing pregnant women with nutrition counseling and giving them to tools and skills needed to maintain a home garden. Chris’ responsibilities included facilitating seminars, distributing inputs, designing and constructing solar dryers, and reporting on project indicators. Now Chris has begun studying to earn a Masters of Public Management from the University of Maryland. He has been rewarded several fellowships including the TIAA Nonprofit Leaders Fellowship, Coverdell Fellowship, and the Global Philanthropy Service Fellowship. During the winter of 2017, he worked as a consultant with the Grameen Foundation’s Bankers without Borders and the Wildlife Trust of India(WTI). His team conducted a quantitative analysis to measure the WTI’s impact on female empowerment and conservation within the Valmiki Tiger Reserve. With June just around the corner, Chris is eager to begin training with The Advocacy Project and help the Gulu Disabled Persons Union promote sustainable WASH practices in Gulu, Uganda. After returning from his fellowship over the summer, Chris discussed with AP the impacts the fellowship had on him. "AP gave me the opportunity to stand on my own two legs. Graduate school loves to teach theory and best practices, but AP allowed me to take those lessons and apply them in real life. It was the best ten weeks of my life and it gave me the confidence to pursue a career in international development."



Nancy Okot

02 Aug

Nancy Okot and Ivan Olanya

Nancy is the oldest of seven children. In Uganda, being the oldest child carries a lot of responsibilities which made the fact that Nancy is disabled especially difficult. “My parents love me, but my father struggles to accept me.” She told me that for a long time her father blamed god for her disability. Imagine being born into a world were even your father sees you as inferior, what would that do to a child’s self-esteem?Once Nancy began school, things only became more difficult. “Some people have disabilities that you cannot see, those are the lucky ones. Children would see me and mimic my arm, which really hurt me.” Anyone reading this should try to remember being a child. The fear of not fitting in is universal. Nancy’s entire life has been defined by one feature of her body. It’s unfair. It’s heartbreaking, but for Nancy, it’s an everyday occurrence. She says people treat her like a child because of her disability, even though she’s exceptionally sharp. She wants to become a seamstress, but for now she farms. I asked her if it’s difficult for her to use a hoe with her disabilities to which she quickly replies “”It’s not easy, but I can farm better than you!” Current score: Nancy – 1, Chris – 0.

Nancy Okot

Nancy is quite a charming, albeit spunky, young woman. I noticed during our interview that some teachers were standing a few feet away. I thought they were curious about the question I was asking or maybe they just wanted to see the mono (Acholi for white person). My ego quickly deflated once I concluded the interview, and the teachers flocked to Nancy. They began joking and laughing like old friends. One teacher took Nancy by the hand and walked away with her, their laugher still echoing off the classrooms at Tochi Primary School. And I was left sitting there, alone. Updated score: Nancy – 2, Chris – 0.

Nancy Okot walking with her former teacher

 

Posted By Chris Markomanolakis (Uganda)

Posted Aug 2nd, 2018

3 Comments

  • Corinne Cummings

    August 3, 2018

     

    Hi Chris, great blog post — after reading your words, my immediate thoughts went to the concept of intersectionality. I am curious as to how patriarchal driven Uganda is and how that consequently impacts the women that have disabilities compared to the men that also have disabilities. I enjoyed reading Nancy’s sense of humor and how you translated it to your blog post. It was very charming. She has a lot of tenacity — nothing will get in her way! I wish her luck at becoming a seamstress. I heard the larine is complete at Awach! I am so happy that you were able to see it through before the end of your Fellowship. Excellent work, Chris. I look forward to reading your last few blog posts. Best, Corinne

  • Princia Vas

    August 6, 2018

     

    Very interesting blog, Chris! Thank you for sharing the story of Nancy with us 🙂

  • Ali

    August 6, 2018

     

    Thanks for sharing, Chris! I really enjoyed reading Nancy’s story. The work you are doing in Uganda is so important – keep it up!

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