Monday 21 March 2022

March 2022 - An exciting welcome to Uganda

Hey there! My name is Ambra and I have just joined the MONDO team as an EU Aid Volunteer in ICT and Communication in Kampala, Uganda. 

I’m supporting the team in the areas of Education and Livelihoods, with the implementation of the Mondo Digital Competence Program (DCP) with various partners across the country. The program is aimed on the one hand, to train ICT instructors to pass on the knowledge to their students, on the other, to involve and empower vulnerable communities such as Refugee Populations across the country, to increase the income opportunities and accessing education, by bridging a skill gap in information technology, which has become more visible after COVID-19. 

I am lucky enough to have an amazing team already: the other EUAVs Clarisse and Sophie, Mondo Uganda’s team and Uganda Pioneers Association, our hosting organisation. 

In my first and second week I was already hitting the road to do a needs assessment and monitoring field visits. Throwing myself straight to the deep end actually helped me having a wider perspective on the projects implemented, and ultimately let me appreciate the stunning nature of the northern regions. I filled my eyes with the green of the tropical plants, the brown of the huts, the red of the dusty road, the yellow painted shops, the pale blue almost foggy sky, the bright detailed patterns of the fabrics worn by the people, the multicoloured uniforms of the children running to their remote schools, as we passed by village by village. 


The 8 hours journey was worth it - not only for getting to know my amazing team better - but also because UPA members of the Gulu branch met with us to understand whether there should be scope for organising ICT training. The group was really friendly and really committed to learning. Clarisse (my colleague EUAV who works with me on the Digital Competences Program) and I will be discussing the findings and try to prioritise the most urgent upcoming training, and maybe we’ll be back to Gulu soon! 


Not too far this time, this one day trip to a beautiful green and peaceful school, was aimed to monitor how the DCP was implemented in a teacher’s school in Nakasake. I’ve learnt how delicate the balance is between understanding the several limitations for teachers not to be able to follow time schedules in the teaching, but also the priorities that us, as an organisation must follow, with time and resources being definitely some of these. 

West Nile

Once again travelling towards the North of Uganda, close to the borders with South Sudan. Here, two of the largest Ugandan Refugee Settlements are based. Mondo DCP has been integrated in the vocational training courses implemented by Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Yoyo (Bidibidi Refugee Settlement in Yumbe) and Ocea Zone (Rhino Refugee Settlements in Madi-Okollo and Terego districts).

Some background information on these settlements:

Bidibidi Refugee Settlement hosts over 270,000 South Sudanese refugees fleeing the ongoing civil war, and as of early 2017 it was the largest refugee settlement in the world 1.

Rhino Camp Refugee Settlement was opened in 1980 and expanded in the wake of the South Sudanese civil war to host the sudden influx of refugees into Northern Uganda 2. As of January 2018, the settlement had 123,243 registered refugees, mostly South Sudanese, and continues to receive new arrivals.3

Here we conducted monitoring of the current projects implemented with NRC, where the ICT instructors we’ve trained are carrying out the Digital Competence Program to the locals and refugee learners in the settlement. Despite the obstacles they faced, namely network issues,  language barriers and learners’ family duties (especially for young mothers), both the instructors and the learners were fully committed and eager to learn. Based on their feedback, it seemed like learning to make optimal use of a smartphone was enabling them to broaden their knowledge and ability to research on various topics, to connect with others and ultimately to become more independent.  

Finally, I was particularly stunned by the resourcefulness of the members of Creativity 4 Development , a small grassroot organisation, funded by refugees who opened a repair cafe for electronic devices and offer skill based workshops to the members of the refugee community in Eden Zone, in Rhino Camp, with a focus on youth and gender. Also, their aim is to enable a sustainable way to dispose of e-waste. With them, we discussed the opportunity to collaborate in the future and assessed their needs.

I’m looking forward to the next adventure, enjoy Kampala and to get to learn about this wonderful land!

Watch this space ⭐

Wednesday 16 March 2022

New project - Same motivated volunteer

My name is Sophie, I am a fashion designer, entrepreneurship and sustainable development trainer from Belgium. 

I came back from working with Mondo in Shianda village, Kenya 2 months ago. The Kenyan experience was amazing and so, I decided to work one more time for Mondo in the EUAV program on another tailoring and sustainable development project, in Uganda. 

This project consists of supporting and training 3 groups of tailoring and crafts towards sustainability and independence. 

The first group I am working with is called Kampala Disabled Initiative
They are a group of tailors with physical disability, making it extra challenging for them to grow as a business. However, their motivation and skills have made their team and shop stand up to today even though Covid has been a difficult time for their business.Their shop is based in the capital of Kampala. 
Their team consists of 10 tailors (1 man and 9 women), 6 of which are regulars in the project. They make clothes and accessories. You can find their skirts, tote bags, slippers and kitchen sets in Mondo's shop in Estonia.  


The second group is called Kikooba ladies with ability
They are a group of over 25 women weaving baskets under a mango tree in a rural village called Kikooba, about 3 hours away from Kampala. 
They are strong, skilled and motivated women, training more and more as they go. Their aim is to help women in their community generate more income for their families.
It isn't easy to find quality basket weavers in Uganda, so I've been told. Mondo has supported them with quality improvement trainings, making their baskets fit for high European standards as well as attractive partners for potential local sellers. 
Mondo's shop in Estonia is one of their partners. 


The third group is called Lugoro Tutte. In the Acholi language Lugoro means "people with disability" and Tutte means "struggle" in a positive way as in fight to find work and not stay idle. Their motto is "Disability doesn't mean inability". And they are right! A lot of people in Uganda have stigmas about disability, making it difficult for them to find work and be treated as anyone else. This group came together in 1993 to fight against stigmas, show a different image of people with disability, a strong and able image. And to provide tailoring and business skills to others, in the aim of generating income and improving their livelihoods. They are located in Gulu, a city in Northern Uganda, about 8 hours away from Kampala. You can find their stuffed Kitenge animals in Mondo's shop as well.

I am now at the end of my first month working in Uganda with these 3 great groups. 
I am absolutely amazed at their motivation, sense of humor, skills and team spirits. Making me very eager to continue working together towards the sustainable growth of their businesses. 

See you in a month with updates on our work together 💥✌💗

Discovering the pearl of Africa

Hello everyone!

I am Clarisse, I am from Belgium and I am in Kampala to support the implementation of Mondo Digital Competences Program (MDCP). The objective is to increase the level of digital competences of vulnerable youth in order to improve their ability to solve everyday problem as well as achieve their personal and professional goals. 

The program manual was developed by Mondo in collaboration with Tallinn University and it comprises six modules that cover different skills such as safety, communication and collaboration, information and data literacy, etc.  It is structured in a pedagogical way that helps trainers with exercises and tips on how to give the lessons. 

Our priority target groups for this training are teachers, young refugees, youth leaders and members of the Uganda Pioneers Association. 

I am really happy to work on this project and I am convinced by the approach of Mondo who focuses mainly on training of trainers (ToT). Indeed, by training local ICT instructors, we strengthen the local capacity while making sure our activities are sustainable.

Preparation before coming

Leaving your own country to go volunteering in a place you have never been needs surely some preparation. Thanks to Mondo and the EUAV program, we benefited from different trainings before coming. We learned about the culture of our country of deployment and we also had practical skills training such as project management in the humanitarian aid sector, crisis management, intercultural awareness, etc. All modules were interesting but I found particularly relevant to meet and exchange with previous volunteers. Indeed, learning about the difficulties they faced and how they overcame them was really encouraging. 

After all those trainings, I felt ready to discover the reality on the ground!

Complementarity between two different organisations

I have the opportunity to work simultaneously for two organisations. The first one is Uganda Pioneers Association and the second one is Mondo. They both have different history and structure and I think it will be rich for me to work with both of them. 

First weeks in Uganda, need assessment and inspiration phase

The first week, UPA gave me an induction week. It was really relevant to receive all those information and to have the time to ask my questions openly. 

Then, the first month has been devoted to need assessment. I visited different partner organisation and met the staff and beneficiaries to really understand how we could work together to create an long lasting impact. I also realised how important this phase was because it will shape future actions.

I also got the chance to visit running projects and discuss with current participants. 

The friendliest people 

I must say that until now I have been very warmly welcomed by the locals and I have have been impressed by their ability to open themselves to someone they have just met. It always takes some time to adjust to a new country but it really helps when you feel welcome and supported. 


Last but not least, I have also been very lucky because I have the opportunity to work together with another EU Aid Volunteer. Her name is Ambra and she is from Italy. I wont say more about her because she will probably present herself on the blog as well but we will be working as a team on this project!😊