Tuesday, 28 June 2022

When the curve goes up again

If you’ve ever attended one of these pre-deployment training you must remember the famous cultural adjustment curve. As months passed I was trying to identify where I was at, and after some health challenges I endured, I feel like I’m back on track moving towards my adjustment phase.

This has been a hectic month, and here I’m telling some of the amazing experiences I had.

Kibuli Primary Teachers’ College 

The MONDO team has delivered The Digital Competencies Training in many classes of Kibuli college, to future primary’s teachers. As my class was growing every day from 54 to 67 students, the attendees were becoming more and more interested and committed in learning the topics and less shy in speaking up. Creating a slide presentation, researching, making online forms, were few of the points we covered. Running around the class to make sure everyone was getting on with the group work, I could spot a few at times falling asleep on their desks. I enquired a bit on what may be the causes, and found out that the students wake up at 4 every morning. Before the classes start at 7, they’ve already cleaned up their own school, had breakfast and prayed. After classes are over around 5 PM, they have a number of extracurricular activities and prayers, going to bed around 11.30 PM. With such a loaded schedule and little sleep, no wonder they feel like taking a nap every now and then, which sadly prevents them from fully benefiting from their learning experience. However I could not believe how fast everyone was in catching up with topics they never heard of before. 

Another interesting notion I got to learn is that every meal they have posho and beans, a very typical Ugandan food. These two ingredients together, actually, are a super nutrient combo, even though perhaps a little tedious if eaten every day. Every time I discover such different school habits from what I’m used to, I think about how education is perceived in Uganda. It is such a privilege, such an empowering tool for the future, that none would dare complain about the chicken that remains a daydream dish. 

UPA cultural and central branches

A fantastic 5 sessions’ training took place at Uganda Pioneers Association (UPA), where I trained a group of 9 “ICT Assistants”, who, as active members of UPA cultural and central branches in Nansana, will take the responsibility to train others members later on, to ensure sustainability for the project. The course delivered is based on the Mondo Digital Competencies Training, with a focus on employment and empowering tools, such as financial literacy and use of social media for business, besides the basic digital learning and online safety. In this photo, one of the sub-groups was working on a business plan. The picture beside is my sophisticated attempt at explaining how to promote a product via Instagram posts, on a  power cut day! 

For World Refugee Day, Suzzy’s story 

This month I have also started collecting successful stories from our beneficiaries. It was such a privilege for me to get to speak with Suzzy, one of the ICT instructors at our partner’s organisation YARID (Young African Refugees for Integral Development), a Kampala based NGO. Founded in 2007 by a young Congolese refugee, it aims to empower refugees and Asylum Seekers in Uganda, through vocational skills training, English classes and sport, in order to tackle social issues such as unemployment, ethnic conflicts and lack of access to education amongst refugee youth and to enhance social inclusion. 

Suzzy is a 22 years-old woman from South-Sudan who has big dreams about her career in IT, programming, and teaching, as not only she is committed to keep learning, but also to make this field more accessible as she acknowledges how challenging it is for a refugee to pursue a formal education, and a career. Like her colleagues, Suzzy is an inspiration for other refugee youth and a role model for other women, and we, through the Digital Competencies Training were lucky enough to have collaborated with her. Stay tuned for the full story!

Re-discovering Ugandan local gems

With my health, I recovered the energy to get to do as much as I can when in a new country: this months I went again to visit Kampala’s craft markets (where I totally fell in love with the local hand-woven baskets), and the Ndere Centre, where I got glued to the stage to admire and and being captured by incredible traditional dances and music from different parts of Uganda. Watch the video below if you think you can handle seeing someone carrying a pile of ceramic pots whilst dancing away…



Finally, it cannot go unmentioned how amazing the surroundings of Kampala are. Just over an hour away by matatu is the beautiful lakeside town of Entebbe, where deep tropical nature, magic sceneries and warm relaxed vibes are.

I managed to make the weekend getaway, also a enriching experience workwise, as Felicia (another MONDO EUAV) and I visited the Children’s Surgical Hospital, set up by  Emergency NGO, a non governmental Italian organisation famous for building emergency hospitals in war zones, or healthcare excellences to hand over to the local staff once they’re self sustained. As an Italian, I grew up being proud of their work, and it was a dream for me to finally witness some if their achievements.

I am looking forward to seeing what July’s adventures await. Watch this space for more successful stories, trainings and well deserved graduations 😊🌴

Friday, 24 June 2022

Strenghtening relationships and early results

 After a few month, I started building stronger relationships and I could also notice the progress of the students, which is really encouraging!

Training in CEFOVID:

Every Wednesday afternoon, we organise a training session with CEFOVID (Community Empowerment For Village Development). The group is composed of 11 people (4 youth leaders, 3 teachers and 4 tailors). Until now, they have learned about digital safety, smartphone photography and videography, financial literacy and Google tools among other things. 
Having a small group is ideal for learning as we are able personalise the exercises depending on the skills they already have. 
We also see them progressing every week and some have already been able to use what they learned in their daily lives!

UPA Gulu Branch

I also came back to Gulu, to give the second training on digital competencies. On the picture, you can see us eating a Rolex for lunch. 

A rolex is a snack which consists in an omelette with onion and veggies rolled in a chapati, yummy!

We decided to eat under the mango tree to enjoy the shadow and while we were waiting for our meals, 3 mangos felt down the tree.

All we had to do was to eat them for dessert 😄😄

Training at Kibuli 

Then, we also started a training marathon in two teacher colleges. The idea is that we go there for three weeks and train both the students and their teachers in digital skills. We started the first week with Kibuli Primary Teacher College and we were impressed by the busy schedule of the students. Indeed, activities are planned for them from 5AM to 11PM. 
Despite this, students find the strength and energy to actively participate in our courses and it is a pleasure to be there to guide their learning. 

Looking forward to see them all graduating in a few weeks! 

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Lugoro Tutte: a story of unity, strength, motivation, passion and heart.

Lugoro Tutte is one of the 3 groups I work with on the sustainable development project of tailoring businesses. They are based in Gulu, Northern Uganda. They are currently 12 active members participating to our activities. 

They have chosen "Lugoro Tutte" as their group name which in Acholi means "let people with disability struggle like everybody else." 
Their vision is to empower people with disability to stand on their own, to not be idle and have better lives. 
Their motto: Disability is not inability.

Mr Fidensio founded this group in 1993. They have grown in number until now and plan to help more and more people with disability in their city.
They are registered as a CBO in Gulu and have been organised with records, team and evaluation meetings. Which has enabled them to last until today. Their tailor shop consist of products like stuffed animal toys, tailoring of clothes, accessories and school uniforms, repairs, knitting sweaters, tailoring and knitting trainings. They also have skills in shoe making, bead work, hair dressing, charcoal business, arts and crafts, baking and liquid soap making which have helped them survive as a small business in the past. Covid 19 has unfortunately been a difficult period for them as orders were few and savings have mostly been used most for rent. 
Having said that, they are still standing with good spirit and motivation. 

We have worked together for 3 months using the Positive Deviance problem-solving approach for sustainable growth. This approach has been described in my previous posts. 

As of today, Lugoro Tutte's main goals are to:  
Strengthen confidence in the team members. (trauma, fear, marginalized, stigma…).
- Come together to show abilities.
- Change the attitude of others towards people with disabilities. 
- Empower economically, improve standard of living + livelihoods. 

Their goals go beyond the business itself as they wish to empower more and more people with disability to stand on their own. But first, they need to generate stable income for themselves and their business in order to reach those goals. 
We have now almost finished their short and long term action plan including smaller objectives, specific activities, responsible task persons, needed resources and desired outcomes. We will start our first training on marketing this month for them to structure their market analysis, decide on specific target clients and markets as well as on a clear marketing strategy to generate long term income and connections.

Ambition, Potential, Spirit and Strength

This team never ceases to surprise me.

They are very motivated and quick thinkers. We have done serious capacity building in the evaluation phase already. We were using the score card technique, I was guiding them with questions as they were scoring their team work and spirit, writing their score explanation and found solutions on the board.

It only took one move to make them do the whole process on their own. I said I wanted to get water in the nearest shop and asked one of them to write the answers on the board the way I have been doing while I am gone.

As I came back I didn't expect so much progress.

But here we had a great new facilitator already!

It was amazing to see how they grabbed the concept of the activity so easily and continued it on their own.

I then thought our new facilitator how to write ideas in shorter sentences, use the pen correctly and write in bold letters for everyone to read as well as asking the right questions to get complete answers.

Another activity was to interview successful tailoring groups around the city to get solutions based on behavioral changes for Lugoro Tutte to overcome their challenges. I went with them to one of the groups to show them the outcome I expected from this activity for them to make the most of it. Asked them to do the remaining 4 visits without me, report to me with pictures and videos as well as specific solutions.

Which they did very well and for the anticipated deadline.

I am impressed with their motivation, teamwork and organization, also having the skills to carry out activities planned together on their own. It is not expected to be easily done because the approach is one they have never worked with before.

On top of that, they are very grateful for the type of work we are doing and the skills they are getting. They told me no one has worked in that holistic way with them before and they are getting serious tools for sustainable work. They are convinced and already seeing how the work we are doing together will help them in the long term. 

They impress me every time with their spirit and qualities. I am grateful to have the opportunity to work alongside them and help them with their business growth and goal reaching. They really have the heart for their project. Which is motivating for me as well.

Training different groups and various profiles

It is my third month in Uganda and my agenda is now full of training, quite exciting! I started with a ToT (training of trainer) in YARID, in Kampala. Then, I travelled to Gulu to train UPA Gulu Branch and finished by another ToT in Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement. 

 1. YARID 

Together with my colleague Ambra, we have organised and conducted a 2 days training for YARID ICT trainers. The objective was to support them in delivering the Mondo Digital Competencies program among refugees and host communities. 
Based on the previous need-assessment, the topics covered during these two days were: 
  • How to communicate efficiently and keep audience's attention
  • How to summarize a concept and deliver it in different ways
  • How to make lessons fun and keep the students energized 
  • How to get the reserved students to participate too
The training was highly interactive with a mix of theory and practical exercises. This methodology allowed participants to learn about new concepts and tools and then to use them directly in a given situation. 

The feedback from the participants was really positive and they told us that they gained more knowledge and skills which will enable them to improve their teaching practices. 


Then, we took the bus direction Gulu! What an adventure... The journey requires patience but we are happy to arrive and discover a quiet city (compared to Kampala 😉). 

 We have come all this way to conduct the first part of the Digital Competencies Training to the Members of UPA Gulu branch. Based on our needs assessment, we had decided to make two groups. 

  • Group A for the beginners
  • Group B for those that already have basic ICT skills and want to become trainers themselves.
The training went on well and we have decided to come back soon for the second part!

3. RWAMWANJA                                        

  From North to West, we went to Rwamwanja  Vocational Training Center to train and support the ICT trainers. 
For some of them, it was their first training on Mondo Digital Competencies modules and for other it was a refresher course. 
They are now all ready to start or continue training young refugees and local communities on ICT. 

Friday, 3 June 2022

How does school work in Uganda?

The second term started at the Kikooba Infant & Primary School at the beginning of May! In the first weeks, I was welcomed in all the classes and I had the opportunity to join lessons, to observe the school environment, which teaching methods are used and what could be improved, and teachers' and children's behaviors and needs. It is such an interesting and challenging experience to be part of a school system that is completely different from what I used to. 

Science in P5.

Do you know how school works in Uganda? 

Social Studies in P7.
The government of Uganda considers education a basic human right. Participating in education is also viewed as part of the solution to reducing poverty. The government is dedicated to providing equitable access to quality and affordable education to all Ugandans.

The Ministry of Education and Sports¹ is responsible for all education in Uganda.


This is the pre-school level of education in Uganda. The infant section is composed of three classes: baby, middle and top. Children usually start at the age of three and complete nursery school by the age of six.

Primary School

The Primary section goes from P1 to P7 and it is the only one compulsory. With normal annual progression, this means the primary school should last seven years.  The first three years' lessons are in the local language, with a gradual switch to English. By the end of the 4th year, the language of instruction is English. At the end of P7, in October or November, the students have to obtain the Primary School Leaving Certificate (PLE) to continue their studies.

Secondary School

Pupils who pass their PLE can progress to secondary school. Secondary education is divided into two stages: Ordinary Secondary Level and Advance Secondary Level. The first step lasts 4 years, from S1 to S4. At the end of S4, students sit for the second major national exam known as the Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE). The second step lasts two years, S5 and S6, and it ends with the national final exam called Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) when students are approximately 19 years old.

University and other tertiary institutions

In Uganda, institutions of higher education are divided into 3 categories: universities, other degree-awarding institutes (ODAI), and tertiary institutions (OTI). These 3 categories include public as well as private institutions. Higher education is divided into non-university level and university level studies. The non-university level consists of Certificate and Diploma programs. The university level consists of 3 cycles at the end of which an academic degree is earned: a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate.

Updates from Kikooba

It is time for P.E.! 

Every Thursday morning, nursery classes up to P2 are doing physical activities in the yard of the school. What a wonderful place to do it! We are surrounded by the green and the hills, breathing fresh and clean air. Through songs,  dances, and sports activities the teachers are improving children´s knowledge and coordination.

Our Scool Library is ready for visitors! 

After two weeks of hard work, Kikooba School LIbrary is ready to be used by teachers and children. We have more than 200 books for beginners, young and advanced readers, without forgetting the storytelling session for the younger ones. Teachers are ready and I am super excited for the next workshop I prepared for them on how to use the library to do more creative lessons. 

Practicing under a mango tree.

My first school debate

Teachers and students invited me to my first school debate. The motion was: it is important that children´s rights are promoted both at school and at home. The 10 students who were representing Kikooba School were the proposer side of this no-competitive debate. It was really challenging for the children to stand in front of a huge audience and express their statements but all the school is proud of them for their work and engagement. We enjoy our trip to the hosting school with our unexpected means of transport!

Our school van.
Teachers and students at the debate.