landed, launched and linked up

*Note:  “Beneath the Mosquito Net” is temporarily reporting from Fort Portal, Uganda as volunteer trainers and film crew for Villages Connected.

We landed in Uganda to a different kind of culture shock.

That’s the culture shock that comes from realizing we’re not in Cameroon anymore – everything is the same, but then nothing is the same.  It’s a new foreign.  A new adventure in a new land that fails to compare to anything else we know in Africa, in how we work, in how we experience life.  Plus, it comes with a twist:  we get to share it with the Villages Connected team!

When we linked up to de Villiers – friend and founder of Villages Connected – it was immeasurably exciting.  For one, he was the first person from our “former” lives that we have seen in over 18 months. And secondly, there was no longer any shred of doubt this project was going forward – so much time spent in Canada dreaming, planning and marketing the VC media coop concept – now it was made truly real!

Isaac and Greg chewing half a pack of gum - hoping the Villages Connected sign will stick to the vehicle long enough for the drive-by shoot!

Together with Ernie – the man behind the camera – and Isaac – the man behind the wheel – we loaded up the official VC vehicle in Kampala and headed to Fort Portal, arriving just in time to hook up with the media coop participants for a quick meet and greet.  The official start, of course, wasn’t until the next day, but it was great to connect first.  They had lots of questions for us – and we for them.

The official launch of the training was no different.

Greg showing the co-op members a sample of what photovoice looks like

The participants were eager to learn, eager to get started, and eager to see the results.  It was almost as if we were holding them back by going through the elements of VC: participatory media, community filming, microfinance and participatory advertising.  But we weren’t. We were simply putting names and concepts before them that they will experience for themselves over the next four weeks.

And a charged-up four weeks this is going to be!

Time it took to receive a Rotaract invitation: 48 hours. Time it took to feel right at home: 0 seconds.

Besides the Villages Connected work, we also have to learn to operate in a different culture.  So far, we’re blown over by the friendliness of the people we have met.  We are floored by people’s eagerness to know how we like their country.  We are simply spellbound by the beauty of the region.

an over-abundance of bananas - what's not to love?

Too many sights, sounds and tastes to discover and precious little time to experience it all as we do our part to get Villages Connected Fort Portal get off the ground.

just one of the many colourful - and interesting - sights in Fort Portal

One has to wonder…will four weeks be enough for both work and play???

~ by Caroline Spira on June 8, 2011.

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