17 Apr an ICT student on mission in Uganda
A little feedback from Amadeo, our IT student on mission in Africa.
“In Uganda, a country where temperatures easily exceed 28°C, people work really hard to survive. But despite the many hardships, you don’t see the worries they have and everybody always greets you with a big smile. That is something truly amazing!
Victor Ochen, the man with the widest smile of all, was waiting for me in Kampala. I immediately felt welcome in Uganda, in the AYINET family and in his own home. After a day of rest to recover from the flight, we hit the road for Lira in Northern Uganda. What followed was a 6 hours adventure on a requestable infrastructure. A sweathy trip around deep potholes on a road covered with gravel. Strangely walkers and cars follow the same direction on the road. The honking ensures that cars don’t hit anybody, which definitely is a challenge.
In Lira I was warmly welcomed by Aaron and Alexander, my roomies for the next weeks. I gave a animated presentation about my life in Belgium, which was really appreciated by the team. Time for the real work now and definitely lots of work to do in the ICT area 😲.
After a couple of days, I started noticing some cultural differences to the way I’m used to work in Belgium. Quite often colleagues don’t show up at meetings, or way to late without notifying. Or tasks are not finished as agreed upfront, regardless of the clear deadlines. To me, coming from our western culture, that feels like a lack of responsibility and it’s definitely not an effective way of working. And that’s a pity because of all the sweat and tears Victor and his NGO have invested in the past to deliver good to the communities, which is something “unearthly”, really unrealistic.
If we want Digitalization to be successful here, I think we need to find a way to prepare for that more tied working mentality, bring in our learnings and expertise and sufficiently develop the local technical skills in order for the new and digitalized processes to be sustainable.
What I will take away from this experience is that I am honoured to have grown up in Belgium, where so many opportunities are given to us and where we take good education for granted. I now so much more appreciate the mentality I was taught. I feel so grateful for many things indeed. But most of all, Uganda is the country that made me realise that the little things in life are worth so much more than all the luxury I have.” – Amadeo, Lira