I’m back in Uganda this month, and have just finished two weeks of training in the east of the country. In Busembatia, I worked with Women in Leadership (WIL) Uganda, training their four Ugandan volunteers in basic photography and computer use. WIL Uganda was started by a former lawyer from the UK, whose stint as a volunteer here last year convinced her that much more was needed to support women and girls. Cases of rape are all too frequent; many women have been abandoned by their husbands to raise children alone and without an income. Girls are often shy or reluctant to speak their minds.
One year on, and WIL Uganda’s volunteers now teach adult literacy and handcrafts to the women and lead career guidance and writing classes with the girls in one of the secondary schools. Though I worked with only four student-volunteers (plus a baby, most days), their level of education – and confidence – varied quite a bit. The great thing about photography, though, is that it can work at all levels, and students can choose how far to run with it. Suzan, a 30-year old mother of seven and crafts teacher, did a great final project that documented the process of jewellery-making from start to finish. Sarah, her colleague, showed us what life was like in the village with a series depicting daily life.
I also did some fairly chaotic sessions with larger groups of schoolteachers and of teenage girls – for the latter, pretty much ignoring the technical side of things and using some team games or challenges worked best. (You’d be surprised how much value you can get out of a tripod…)
And in between, I spent a day in the nearby town of Busolwe, leading a workshop with the staff of the NGO A Little Bit of Hope, who wanted to get better at writing donor reports and case studies – in terms of structure and style, but also what information to include or not. Often – and this applies to report-writers everywhere – the mistake is to make a statement but not include the specifics, or to forget to clarify why this is significant in the context of what you’re writing; or to omit details that make a big difference to the reader (for instance saying that an activity was delayed, but not to include the reasons why and the action being taken as a result).
I started by taking a step back though, to think about why we communicate in the first place and what the communicator’s role is, and tried to keep them focused on those principles throughout. We had some good discussions, and only just finished in time to visit the town’s community library before it closed.
More pictures of my two weeks in Busembatia here.