By Andrew Onapito
ActionAid International Uganda held its fifth immersion in Kumi district for its board and some staff from October 25 to 28. The purpose of the immersion was to give the team firsthand experience with the actual situation of the people that ActionAid Internal Uganda works with in rural Uganda.
“Immersion helps us to put a face to poverty. It is experiential learning,” explained Shibah Namulindwa, the Regional Coordinator for AAIU, Eastern Uganda.
Ocera village, Kumi, was ideal due to its social and economic challenges.
The exercise involved staying at the homes of host families for three days and nights. During this time, the team slept in huts, ate the same meals, and did the same housework in the host community—some of the work involved digging, fetching water, cooking, and caring for animals.
On his part, Augustine Tamale, the AAIU board chairman, said, “This is a place of hard work. To go to a garden, borehole, or fishing point, you have to walk a long distance. The medical side is also challenging. There is just one health center II, which requires a lot of help to deliver the necessary services. The medical personnel stay far from it.
Indeed, the immersion was a transformational experience and an eye-opener for those who attended.
“This immersion has given me a chance and opportunity to understand what women go through. Usually, when you are in the city and talk about women empowerment and programming for women, you are speaking from an informed point of view. Coming to Ocera village has opened my eyes and made me realize that we have a lot to do," said Naima Isa, the Board Liaison Officer of AAIU.
The immersion exercise was not just a one-time event to tick off a checklist of activities accomplished, but AAIU will use the lessons learned by the team to guide the programming and budgeting at AAIU. This year’s immersion comes when the organization is writing its sixth strategy paper.