“You should not bite the hand that feeds you.’ But maybe you should, if it prevents you from feeding yourself.”
I received a call recently. The lady spoke so fast and I could barely make out what she was saying. Whatever it was, she needed it fast.I told her to slow down so I could actually listen.
She finally introduced herself and I realised she was someone much older,Maggie,* whom I struck up an acquaintance with in the past. I also eventually managed to make out the ’emergency.’
There were some foreigners in the country who were leaving soon and needed to visit an orphanage ‘ASAP.’ She asked me to be available the next morning to pick them from their hotel, take them around and then safely return them in time for their workshop.
I explained that I had plans and it was short notice so the best I could do was offer them an hour and a half. “What could be more important?” she asked. “Well, I have a team building with the people who actually ensure work is done so yes, they are more important. I have to be on time” “No, you can be late for that, these people will get you funds.” Maggie responded, completely oblivious of the weight in her words.
Fast forward to that morning with the said ‘visitors.’ They were not only impatient and arrogant but also very unpleasant. Almost every sentence they uttered was said to shame Ugandans oh plus a few condescending remarks. I was quite agitated but made sure to respond as calmly as possible. There was no way I would stoop down to their level. (Although I must admit I inwardly counted to ten several times before responding)
When I returned to pick them up, they asked something that caught me off-guard. “How come the administration of the home says they do not know Maggie and have not received support from her?” I probed further. It turned out Maggie had made it seem like she had been giving aid to the children through 40-40. Never mind that she can’t even pronounce it in full.
Sadly, I have reached that point where this scenario is neither new nor shocking. My only issue now is that people have so little tact. Okay, that isn’t my only issue but, moving on…
Since when did it become anyone else’ responsibility to find solutions to our problems? Why is it exciting to hear that someone of fair skin is interested in your enterprise yet you can neither sell it to your own people nor hire them?
One in two people shall ask me”Why aren’t you targeting international organisations?” before I have even fully explained what we do.
When I mention that up till now we have achieved some milestones with limited resources from young people in Uganda who are far from wealthy, it isn’t because it is something to brag about. It is something that should be a challenge to the listener but more importantly bring a sense of pride, knowing that homegrown solutions are not simply a myth.
In the event that foreign donors come along, (as they shall), wouldn’t it be much more meaningful if they found strong structures that already exist?
If you haven’t already, please read up on Fitclique256, a women’s only gym in Bukoto that allows women to freely express themselves and love their bodies while having some fun along the way. It offers different classes from yoga to dance to encourage a healthy lifestyle in a comfortable environment.
Before Mildred Apenyo began this gym, she had gone to gyms which were mostly filled with men who weren’t always pleasant to the fairer sex. Why not have a space free of distraction and judgement, she thought? Voila, the dream was born. It has also taken her places I might add.
The Medical Concierge Group is another great example of a company addressing local needs. They provide accessible and affordable health care using seemingly effortless methods that were hitherto not applied.
If these enterprises get international recognition, (as they have) it is obviously great. However, the onus is on us to appreciate and support them even more because we are the ‘real’ beneficiaries.
A few minutes ago,I looked at a list of all the things our office needs. Some are out of reach at the moment, others quite attainable.
Instead of looking for solutions outside, I decided to ;
1. Write this blog
2. Start finding solutions after writing this blog.
“You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence”