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."

Trudy Oroma

11 Aug

Focus Group at Tochi

Since the being in Uganda I have asked almost 200 children a simple question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The results reflect the limited job opportunities in Uganda. It’s less about passion, more about earning a regular salary.

  • 40% – Doctor
  • 30% – Teacher
  • 8% – Driver
  • 5% – Nurse
  • 3% – Pilot


But there was one girl who decided to break the mold, to dream outside the box. “I want to be a journalist!” said Trudy Oroma, age 14.  “I want to be on the radio, to be heard all over the world.” For those who have never met a Uganda child, it will be hard to explain how unique Trudy is. Most children speak in hushed voices, eye contact is rare, and most questions are answered with a nod of the head or the ubiquitous “mmm” sound but not Trudy. Even with her visual impairment, she is a bold girl with the most amazing smile.

Trudy's smile

Speaking with Trudy is easy; she carries herself like an adult and laughs as loud as one too.  I asked her what games she likes to play. She replied, “I like netball, I am good at it.” Her back straight with pride as boasted about her skill. I tease her a bit and ask, only good? Trudy replies, “I am very good, I am the best actually. “ Confidence despite being labeled disabled is a rare yet beautiful thing.

Trudy and Chris at Tochi

I have spoken with Trudy on a few occasions, but then I asked her about her parents and everything changed. Her posture, her eyes, even her tone of voice shifted. I have gotten so used to hearing about the atrocities committed during the Kony Insurgency that I assumed Trudy’s parents must have fallen victim to the violence. However, the number of lives taken by Kony is just a fraction to those taken by HIV. Tears ran down her cheeks as she told me how her father died from the diseases, how she barely remembers what he looks like. Her mother struggles to support Trudy and her siblings alone. What does that struggle look like? Its looks like one meal a day, missing school to work on the farm, missing school because of school fees, missing school because if you are going to spend the money, why would you spend it on a disabled child? Trudy fell quiet after that, her eyes closed in an attempt to stop the flow of tears. I put my arm around her to comfort her, but I doubt it helped much.

Posted By Chris Markomanolakis (Uganda)

Posted Aug 11th, 2018


  • Corinne Cummings

    August 13, 2018


    Hi Chris, great interview. I found it interesting that being a pilot was one of the five occupations up for consideration — even if it was only three percent out of the 200 kids interviewed. I would not have guessed that job. I hope Trudy has the opportunity to follow her dreams of becoming a journalist. With that smile of hers, she’d be perfect on TV delivering the news. From your blog, it seems you had an emotional conversation together — I appreciate the strength she exuded during your interview. You are doing wonderful work, Chris. Thank you to both Trudy for sharing and to you for writing out her powerful personal account. I love the picture of you two as well! Bright smiles. Enjoy the rest of your time in Uganda. Best, Corinne

  • Princia Vas

    August 20, 2018


    Great Post! You’ve done a wonderful job with all the profiling 🙂

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