Elizabeth Lisanne’s Uganda experience as an intern with AEE/HAC

The past few months have really been a life-experience for me! I’m Lisa (though my official name is Lisanne, I figured that Lisa would be easier to pronounce), a student from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, studying Youth, Education and Society. Within my master’s program, I chose the track Pedagogy in International Development, which led me to this incredible internship in Uganda.

In February we were most welcomed in Uganda, first in Kampala and some days later in Arivu and Terego. The warm welcome and friendliness of the people made me so happy! I was amazed by the beauty of the landscapes, the greenery and the number of delicious fruits. Coming from the cold winter in the Netherland, where it was freezing, I felt full of joy seeing the blue skies and feeling the warm sun on my skin, even though I had to get used to the heat. I remember people in Kampala mentioning that ‘they are boiling in Arua’, and true enough, the first few weeks were really hot. The food was different, but we also learned that in future we should decline things like the locally made Bushera (I think Chun talks more about it).

At one point at the beginning of our stay in Arua, the water stopped running. We did not know what to do, but thanks to our amazing colleagues, friends and neighbors we got jerrycans, which we could fill at a tap on the compound. Now we really experienced what it was like to take an ‘African shower’. However, the tap on the compound was not always working, so a few times we sent a boda get for us some water. One day we came home and found out that all the jerrycans were filled, along with a big barrel of water! We felt so happy and grateful for this unexpected surprise by an anonymous giver. We also experienced some power cuts, some of them lasting for a couple of days. However, we found out that we should purchase power units, which we had never heard of before. 

This entire experience has been a real learning experience for us. I have grown to appreciate water and electricity much more and not take them for granted. I really learned to be more grateful for it. Also, I gained respect for all people who have to go and fetch water every day. I was amazed by how people’s clothes could be so clean and how well-kept their homes were without running water (something we admittedly struggled with a bit). The experience of fetching water in jerrycans and living without electricity helped me to comprehend the life of the people we interviewed in the villages in Terego for our research. I have learned a lot about the lives of parents and how they support their children daily.

I am incredibly grateful for all that we were able to do, see and learn during our time in Uganda, and these experiences will stay with me for a lifetime. I am eager to share these moments with my family and friends back home, allowing them to have a glimpse of the beauty of Uganda and the warmth of Ugandan people.

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