Thursday, January 25, 2007

Uganda: Final dispatch

Greetings from the NUPI offices in Kampala. Today is [tear] my last day in Uganda (for the time being!). I started the morning with a pleasant boda ride to town to have a cappucino at Cafe Pap (where else would I go???) and read the New Vision. Today the newspaper vendor slyly informed me that "there is something special for you on page 28," which turned out not to be a personal note from the vendor (what I feared), but an insert predicting what will happen in Uganda in 2007. Apparently there will be peace, growth, lower inflation, more mortgages and lower interest rates, and Manchester United will take the cake. Only the most important news here, folks.

Katie and I met with Joseph and Howard for some more discussion on the One Mango Tree project, and after our disheartening meeting with BeadforLife yesterday, today was a bit uplifting. I still have to debrief with Katie, but I think there are some definite cultural differences we need to address while trying to set up a legitimate business. I'm leaving the details out for the sake of those who are not so interested. I can fill in the rest of you later. We're still headed to Namuwongo this afternoon to look at products and meet with the women who make them...and possibly catching a practice of the Namuwongo branch of GYPA's Gomo Tong Football Club. They are beginning training in anticipation for attendance at the 2007 Homeless World Cup to take place in Denmark in July.

In other news, I had a great lunch with Stig Marker Hansen today - the Belgian Chief of Party for USAID's Northern Uganda Peace Initiative (NUPI). Chief of Party - the title which I've aspired to ever since I first became interested in development work. I have lots of experience from OSU - I was Chief of Party for many a jello-shot-filled event. In reality Chief of Party is USAID's term for the Program Director for projects abroad. There are Chiefs of Party all over the developing world, and the position is highly coveted by ambitious development types like myself. Stig's been working on this program on conflict resolution in Uganda for the past three years - Josh joined him last year as a program assistant. I got some great pointers for doing work and making contacts in this part of the world.

I'm headed off to the National Theater Market to pick up random earrings and "a nice red and yellow snack plate" (requested specifically by Carly), as well as other crafty African products to suck up to all you people back home. Just kidding, I love shopping, especially for gifts for other people. My goodbye dinner (hopefully complete with Enoch's calypso dance moves and some Pilsners) is tonight. Hopefully I won't drown my friends in a torrent of tears (though I'm sure they'll come on the airplane tomorrow).

On the bright side, I get to come back and show all of you an interminable slide show of photos from the trip, and reiterate (with greater detail and exaggeration and hand gestures) all the stories I've shared on these updates (and others that couldn't be included in the name of public decency). Barring any flight disruptions, I'll be back in the Western world in something like 48 hours.

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