Finding a good organization internship placement usually isn’t something easy to go by. Comparably, it shades a glim of light about the tight job market for which penetration is never easy a solution to which has barely proven viable. Nonetheless, lucky for me, being part of Makerere University department of social work and social administration, field practice for every end of academic year is a pre-requisite.
I found myself in the need to hit the streets which never came easy for me in any sense. Luckily for me to exist in the digital era of the 21st century, it wasn’t long before I realized the need to check the web. With convenience at heart, I searched for community and voluntary organizations in the neighborhood. In a short time I landed on the Actogether web which I found so intriguing for its community related practice congruent with the core values of social work practice. By then, I was still fresh and just in my first year of the three year programme of bachelor of social work and social administration. Unfortunate for me, I hadn’t learned much about the rules of “the game.” My internship application to the organization was very untimely a factor which left me despairing for not having hit the nail when still hot nevertheless, I had a good lesson learnt than most of what my teachers taught in those boring classes. It wasn’t long enough before the second opportunity presented its self but again, I had substantial advantage in practicing with the local government for which I longed for reasons owing to companionship of my classmates. This made me spare the last opportunity to Actogether which I was cocksure to be part of come June. I always felt there was something unique about this organization saying this “instinctively…” soon enough, it was time for me to join the team at the organization which I found to not only be passionate but also highly enthusiastic. Having spent my almost my entire childhood in slum life, I have always been compelled to do something to improve the livelihoods of the urban poor communities. I knew this was a God given opportunity to do I had always longed to. Meeting with people from the different walks of life, “I have always had a connection to the life that many seem not to understand…” life in slum can purely be understood by only those that live it. The federation of Uganda slum dwellers and its partnering agencies: Actogether Uganda and Uganda national slum dwellers association offer a unique opportunity to explore the life challenges and opportunities that have for so long been ignored by authorities. Inside every informal community lies an inner resilience and ability to be better and improve their own realities. Time has never been any better to invest and make greater use of people in slum communities in upgrading and improving their own life situations. For Actogether, we believe; “we are the problem and we are the solution” this can highly inform policy interventions in addressing the increasing rate of urbanization in Uganda and Africa at large.
For the first ever, I feel the honor to be part of something great that shall not only transform the communities of the urban majority; but also set a landmark in the course of development in Uganda.
Intern Attached to the Documentaion Department,
June - July 2016
Blog by Natule Jairus, Tororo region youth documenter;
The principle of savings still receives mixed attitudes and purposes amongst the layman especially in Tororo to date. While it’s encouraging that a good number of people especially the women are involved into saving groups, there is still a challenge when it comes to the baseline reason of WHY and HOW they are doing the saving.
First of all, the mode of security given to the funds is still as insecure as the rest of them who have their money under mattresses, in drawers or in metallic/wooden boxes under their beds. In other wards these village saving groups still keep their accumulating premium in a box whose security is entrusted to the risky safety of an individual or a few individuals that is; chairperson, treasurer and secretary.
In addition, purpose and cause of their saving is as trivial as keeping money till a certain time when need arises to purchase a cloth/clothes for one’s self or family, or like in the common case; for the festive season or among other reason that in the sense of financial discipline do not attain any justification.
But why do many people from different settlements have the same negative attitude towards what seems to be the safest and most secure form of saving? that is, the savings groups having a joint account in the bank:
- - The prejudice caused by the early financial institutions that performed fraudulent acts against the people and robbing them of their hard earned cash thus leaving them smacked down and sat on.
- - Phobia for the banking halls. While in Amagoro ‘A’ settlement, one the women confessed that she personally fears the bank. This also explains why some of the members in these saving groups will always resist the idea of having their money kept in the bank.
- - Ignorance of the procedure of having the group registered in order to be able to open a bank account is another factor.
- - The miss information within and amongst the folks that banks levy heavy charges on money kept there also makes many people resent the idea of banking.
So as the National Slum Dwellers’ Federation Tororo region continues to carryout sensitization activities of the populations within the designated settlements, many of these challenging attitudes, ideologies and phenomena are being encountered, initiatives are being taken to iron them out and appropriate ideas, guidelines and the importance of saving for the future delivered to them.
The federation also continues to inform and clarify to slum dwellers the guidelines and procedures on how to get saving groups registered at division or municipal level and the acquisition of a certificate till the opening of a bank account.The risk of having money under the hands of a few individuals or an individual are also shared to the people, purposeful and focused saving was encouraged.
The federation thus has the task of continuing to identify these challenges and handling them appropriately so as to be able to encourage these communities develop the most suitable form of saving and thus be able to upgrade their slums in the long run.
Blog by Natule Jairus, the Tororo region youth documenter;
There’s an old wise saying that goes,” wisdom is a book; those who don’t travel read only one page.” I agree with it and relate it to the local Ugandan saying that when one travels one sees a lot and has plenty to talk about when he/she returns.
So was the case when the Tororo region documenter Jairus Natule attended the East African hub meeting in Jinja from the 26th-27th of May 2016. At the Jinja Federation material center in Walukuba East Jinja Municipality.
To him it was a meeting beyond just the meeting of people from across the African continent, it was something more than seating amidst a congregation that comprised of delegations from the East, south and Central Africa.
This meeting under the theme “PARTICIPATORY DATA COLLECTION TO INFORM URBAN PLANNING” was so intriguing and triggered each and every participant’s attention and expectations. To the documenters in attendance, this was an appropriate avenue to have a recap as far as their role in LM&E (Learning Monitoring and Evaluation) can go and also assess their positions of how much they have done in relations to it.
A team from the SDI secretariat in Cape Town furthermore commended the brilliant work and the job well done vis-à-vis LM&E and the numbers where amazing showing progress in the field of LM&E.
The damning question: the appreciation and credit given to the performance in LM&E did not in any way make the meeting relate to that that was in conclusion but rather, one that had just started.
Relating back to the very convincing figures excellently achieved in LM&E they on the other hand posed a challenge to all the federations; as it was stated, “you have managed to reach and show these commendable figures SO WHAT? And this seemed to become the essence of the meeting.
Ideally, the challenge that was posed to all federations was that since there has been a commendable performance in LM&E, with increasing numbers showing progress, how have these federations used those good numbers to create more impact/change in the communities. In other words, federations ought to use this good performance to attract more donors and more NGOs to these communities and create more change that improves the lives of the slum dwellers/urban poor.
The essence/ significance of the meeting therefore, especially to the Tororo federation where nothing more has been done other than; profiling and enumeration, mapping, registration of saving groups (that has consistent increasing numbers of the saving groups and thus number of savers and of course the amount saved), and the continued meetings with the Municipal Development Forum (MDF) that have so far not yielded a thing.
However, upon the return of the Federation documenter, a brief visit and an imploring chat with the MDF president Rev. George Okiror Etyang, illuminated unthought-of ventures yet of good benefit to the federation and the entire communities of Tororo region.
Municipal Development Forum president Rev. George Okiror Etyang meeting with the slum dwellers federation leadership.
This has also sparked off now frequent meetings with the MDF who are now identifying defunct municipal council facilities with the idea of letting them be handed to the federation so that they can be put to use, an initiative that has been welcomed and is yet to undergo the levels of bureaucracy for implementation.
However it should be noted that if the information of whatever transpired in the East African Hub meeting had not been shared with the leadership of the Tororo region Federation and the MDF, whatever is underway at the moment wouldn’t have seen the light of day.
And should this venture bare any fruits, they should be attributed to the information and knowledge shared at the East African Hub meeting in Jinja.