Innovative projects for refugees, former child soldiers, and host communities in northern Uganda
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Mar 2012 27

Under the Mango Tree – Field life

Posted in News

By Brianna Kilcullen, outgoing Fellow in Fundraising in Gulu, Uganda

Having the opportunity to work for GRG these past several months has been a real eye opening experience into not only the NGO world but also into the current situation in northern Uganda.  I am not sure what I expected when I subleased my apartment in DC out, bought copious amounts of sunscreen and bug spray and boarded the plane to “Afrika”.  To be honest, I was ready and willing for anything.

My first days in Gulu and at GRG were a whirlwind.  GRG staff welcomed me with open arms in my jet lag, zombie-like state.  My second day in the office we were off to the field and I was suddenly immersed into rural Uganda and GRG’s communities.  I had the opportunity to meet with our group members and to put a face to the people I would be fundraising for in the coming months.

After my first week in Gulu, I became well acquainted with expat life.  The shortage of water, days without power and the general suckiness of never being able to truly clean all of the dirt away from one’s feet.  In the following weeks, I built relationships with my colleagues, learned what the difference was between cassava and sim-sim and was proud to say that my organization was one of the few NGO’s doing work and going out into the field (you would be surprised at how much of a rarity that is!)

I also had the opportunity to formulate my own opinion on the current situation in northern Uganda and to connect with all different people… teachers, students, farmers, boda drivers and more.  I was better able to understand the past conflict and the future challenges that many Ugandans face.  I can without a doubt vouch for the need in northern Uganda.  And when I say “need”, I don’t mean clothes and money.  I mean concrete skills and tools to provide sustainable development for people that are willing to work and improve their communities.

My last day in Gulu, I visited a combination of old and new group members.  It was really inspiring to see all of the work the old groups had accomplished and how some member were even teaching the new groups the same techniques they had perfected.   Despite what the media might portray, Uganda is on the rebound and people are moving forward and in need of organization’s like GRG who work in partnership with communities to tackle future challenges.  My overall experience working for GRG and living in Gulu was invaluable and I am excited to continue my work and representing the people of northern Uganda.

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