8 weeks have passed – what have I done?

I cannot believe it, but already 8 weeks have passed since I started my internship here in Uganda. I have 4 weeks left. It has not been very easy for me to work in a big organization, to be honest. Since I have worked only for small organizations/companies before, everything happening in my host organization was very new for me. Of course, I definitely learned a lot of things.

The view from the small airplane that I used for going back to Kampala from Karamoja (On the way to Karamoja, it took 10 hours by car)

When I say, “I am doing my internship for 12 weeks” to somebody, I am always asked, “what are you doing during your internship?” I know! This is the right question to ask an intern! However, it is quite difficult for me to answer the question because I have been doing various things. I want to share a part of the work I have done so far.

Writing up some articles for the organization’s website

My host organization has a blog as a part of its website, which focuses on local people’s voices and stories. I really like that the organization is trying to listen to people’s views. It is essential when we engage in any development work, I believe.

To write some education-related articles for this blog, I went to Adjumani district, which is one of the refugee-hosting districts in Uganda. Uganda is hosting the most significant number of refugees in Africa, and the refugees should live in refugee settlements, which are located in certain districts.

During my field trip, I visited three partner NGOs, interviewed with them, and monitored the activities they conducted. The project sights were mainly in refugee settlements, but some schools I visited were located in host communities. Also, I collected voices from children, teachers, and parents through conducting interviews and focus group sessions.

Supporting creating donor reports

I helped to develop donor reports with my colleagues. For example, I wrote case stories for the program on education for refugees, based on my field visit, which I mentioned above. Also, I supported my colleagues to finalize the financial report for the program on quality education in Karamoja, which is a north-eastern area of Uganda. It was pretty complicated, but since I used to be in charge of creating financial reports for Japanese ODA projects in my previous job, I was happy to have a chance to use my skill.

Developing tools to review the education-related data

I developed the tool to review the educational status in Karamoja. There was much data collected in Karamoja, but there was no tool to overview and analyze the data. Therefore, I created this format by using excel for my colleagues to quickly review the educational situation in each district in Karamoja.

Conducting a survey about teachers’ motivation

I am planning to conduct a survey about teachers’ motivation by using the system that my host organization has. This system is developed to collect people’s opinions through Facebook messengers and SMS, and it is utilized in 59 countries. Now, I am preparing the survey questions with my colleagues, and I am looking forward to seeing the results. Teachers’ motivation is actually the theme of my policy brief, so I am thrilled to engage in this research. I will analyze the results of this survey and create a short report.

2nd field visit to Kotido

Last week, I went to Kotido district in Karamoja and joined my colleagues to monitor activities that our partner organization is doing. Our partner is conducting workshops targeting primary school students, which raise awareness of menstruation and hygiene as well as violence against children. I was amazed at how much Ugandan boys know about menstruation and how to support girls (they can even make re-usable pads for girls!). Also, I participated in the workshop about monitoring and support supervision, which was held for teacher educators and school leadership.

Other than these, I have attended many meetings in and out of the organization. They were good opportunities for me to see what challenges education in Uganda faces, how my host organization works in partnership with other organizations, what kind of people work for the organization, and what they do.

One of the schools I visited in Kotido

8 weeks are too short for me to do something “very standing out.” Readers of this blog might think that “oh, you have done only small things!” YES, it is true, and I feel that I have learned more than I contributed to the organization and children in Uganda. It sometimes worries and frustrates me, but the internship is like this, I think. The only thing that I can do now is to learn as much as possible and utilize the knowledge and experience gained here for my future professional work. My mentor always says to me (we frequently exchange e-mails and do skype calls during this internship), “focus on the what is in front of you, and take notes about what you see and what you learn.” I am trying to do so, and I am hoping that, in the near future, I could be a professional that can do something helpful for children in Uganda.

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