"You have a potential urge and the ability for accomplishment"
This saying, "You have a potential urge and the ability for accomplishment," was the advice I found in my fortune cookie the day I decided I would begin embarking on the five-month process of fundraising and planning for my 3-week internship in Entebbe, Uganda. I was unsure of whether or not to pursue the opportunity and took this small token as a sign that this internship was possible, if I had the motivation to see it through.
For those of you unaware, in five short days I will travel for over 24 hours to Entebbe, Uganda in Africa to complete a three-week Microfinance internship with Tokamalirawo AIDS Support And Action Group Awareness (TASAAGA). During my time aborad, I will serve as a Microfinance Field Officer joining many other volunteers and project employees on the GROWW Microfinance Project (Growing Resources, Opportunities, and Wealth for Women). This project is dedicated to alleviating poverty the widowed and single-mothers face while attempting to provide for their families. (Link to TASAAGA's GROWW Project Website: http://www.tasaaga.org/?pg=content&i=50&pgid=Projects)
Simply explained, Microfinance is the act of lending a small amount of money (around $55 USD) to a borrower who then learns basic business skills and begins a small business. Through starting their business, the borrower works to repay the loan on a repayment schedule and ultimately create a steady income stream for themselves and their family. (More about Microfinance: http://www.kiva.org/about/microfinance)
During my time in Uganda I will stay in the City of Entebbe during the weekends and live in the village of Sitabaale during the week. Sitabaale is the village in which TASAAGA has built their school for Orphans (the school in which I will be staying, actually). Bruhan (pictured above leading a business course for the GROWW project) hails from the village of Sitabaale and will serve as my internship coordinator. One of the founding members of TASAAGA, Bruhan allows the interns to stay with him in his home during the weekends. While I stay in the village, I will have no access to Wireless internet so communication will be only when necessary. My plan is to post on Friday or Saturday of every week accounting for the week's worth of experiences.
While my initial intent behind my trip to Entebbe was the internship and the experience offered through this program, my secondary motivation is to complete some entry level research in order to further complete and defend an honors thesis. While I have not decided on a topic, my focus for this trip will be analyzing the GROWW program, specifically looking at their education program. I am hoping to find a way to better enhance the women's understanding of business and work towards making them more "business literate" in order to ameliorate their earning potential. Additionally, I will consider the way in which developing infrastructure in the village, ergo increasing the opportunities offered to the women, will help to enhance their chances of creating sustainable business for the future.
My vision, although naïvely unachievable, is a world without poverty. Utilizing this opportunity to take one step in that direction gives me great joy. However, it is imperative to note at this point that without the support of everyone that contributed towards covering the expenses I faced and will face during my trip there is no way it would be possible. I look forward to this soon-to-be life-altering experience and count my blessings that very soon I will have the chance to make this potential urge into a life-altering accomplishment.