I will share all of my experience as a Queen Elizabeth Scholar and some of the realizations I came to while in Uganda and how this experience disrupted my future self.
As expected, in Uganda, I experienced a newfound appreciation for many of the things us Canadians take for granted on a daily basis such as running tap water, access to electricity, adequate national healthcare, a transparent legal system, and the list could go on. This is not to say that Uganda does not have these resources but that there is an issue of unequal access and distribution across the country.
Instead of focusing on the social and economic challenges currently facing Uganda, I wish to tell you about the inspiring people I met during the course of my internship and the knowledge we exchanged. Living on campus at Uganda Martyr’s University and working with saving and lending groups in rural villages, I was surrounded by an array of people. Some of these people were mothers, fathers, students, aspiring entrepreneurs, business owners, and community leaders.
Most importantly these people are change makers. They are people focused on improving their lives and the well-being of their families, communities, and respective countries.
I had the chance to befriend students at Uganda Martyr’s hailing from Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Kenya. These students, rather friends, are committed to creating a university environment that uplifts each student inspiring them to become leaders in their respective countries or origin.
I worked directly with the leaders of 40 saving and lending groups. Together, we developed a report highlighting the most prominent issues they faced. With the guidance of my supervisor, Francis, I developed and facilitated training workshops with group leaders focused on mitigating late loan repayments, preventing price exploitation of their produce, and taught group member’s effective techniques setting and achieving goals. It was incredible that together, we used their practical experience coupled with my academic background to create something that could facilitate positive change.
Since leaving Uganda, I remain in regular communication with Francis and was delighted when he informed me that groups began implementing strategies from the workshop.
In Uganda, I came to an important realization. The exchange of knowledge, perspective, and experience facilitated by opportunities (or programs) like this, have the potential to create real positive change. Allowing future global leaders, the chance to learn from each other and use that shared knowledge to create appropriate change is amazing. I am proud to be a QES scholar and intend to continue working on an international scale throughout my life.
Nikolas Shymko, Contributor