August 8 – Goodbye Kampala

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On our last morning in Kampala our driver, Amin, was supposed to pick us up at 7:45 to get us into town for a 8:45 meeting. We received a call at 7:40 from Amin that he had gotten a flat tire and that he was going to be 20 minutes late. So, we ended up canceling our 8:45 meeting and Amin got us to the AMREF offices for our 9 AM meeting with the team there. We spent the next two hours talking with the AMREF team about how we can improve the relationship between AMREF and U-TOUCH and how we can best work together moving forward. The meeting was extremely productive and we left with a clear understanding of what we need to do next.

I enjoyed the conversations with the team and understanding their challenges and what bothers them. Having worked with so many organizations over the past 30 years this was fun for me. Not sure it was so much fun for Deb. Over the years I have realized that this is all a big game, and when you understand the rules of the game it is much easier to play and come out ahead. This game of dealing with bureaucratic organizations is just that, a game. Everyone needs to be heard, they need to know that you understand their challenges and that you can come to agreement on how everyone can be happy in the end. All fun if you don’t take it too personally and you know you are playing a game.

As for our time in Uganda, it is time to head to the airport for our flight to Nairobi. We left the restaurant at 1:40 expecting a nice easy ride to Entebbe. As I am typing we are sitting in a traffic jam and have not moved one inch in 10 minutes. Amin believes we should be fine, but one never knows. Being in a country like this is extremely interesting in so many ways, one of them is the traffic situation, it sucks! Well, we moved a half of a block and stopped again. We have been stopped so long that Amin has shut off the engine. OK, it was 25 minutes and we finally are moving again. Wow, that was interesting. It is interesting to monitor how you react in situations that are totally out of your control.

I have spent much of the past two weeks focused on the project I came here to understand better, and I have accomplished that. We have gained clarity on our purpose and our mission and clearly defining the box that U-TOUCH needs to live in to be successful. Our new mission is clearly ICT for Social Change. How can U-TOUCH use Information Communication Technology to affect change in the developing world. We have worked for a while to develop a model that teaches young people how to use a computer and while doing this we embed the message of our strategic partner. The organization has learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work and now it is time to focus on what works and build a model for sustainability.

When I return to the states I will look to build a team of volunteers in the IT industry that have the will and ability to effect this change and build an organization that makes an impact that we can see and touch. Working on the ground might be heay lifting and labor intensive, but it is so rewarding when it is done well. I look forward to the challenge.

Now it is time to leave the project behind and enjoy some quality time with my wife, my kids and my brother. This is a once in a lifetime event that should be cherished by everyone.

‘Til next time …..

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