The year 2011 began just like any other year. I was in Uganda and folk were afraid of going out since Al shabab had thrown bombs amongst folk watching the world cup finals at the city’s rugby club. So we stayed home, lit the BBQ and sat back to take in the fireworks at Sheraton Hotel from a vantage point of our back yard.
As the year unfolded it turned to be quite memorable. This post is about some of the events that stood out for me.
When I got back to the UK I hit the road again this time to Libya. Gaddafi had called a conference to discuss the state of the African Diaspora in the Europe and I was to address 600 people on issues that affect African Women in the Diaspora. The conference gave me an insight into life in Libya. I got an opportunity to meet Gaddafi face to face as well as spending time in his infamous compound.
In Ivory Coast there was a political impasse and the livelihood of cocoa growers was threatened
A gay man was killed in Uganda- what was that about? We saw international donors threaten withdraw Aid from countries with poor record of gay rights – the jury is still out on this one.
In the same month I lost my dear cousin Doreen due to poor maternal health care in Uganda, things didn’t improve in February as my niece miscarried twins whilst a dear friend lost her new born baby.
In February I had a guest a appearance on the SHOOT THE MESSENGER show to discuss issues that concern Africans in the diaspora
In March I was voted as one of the 20 most inspirational African women in the diaspora what an honour!
Between April and June I worked hard on the Water project in Ruhanga SW Uganda. One of our goals for the year at LET THEM HELP THEMSELVES OUT OF POVERTY was to get clean water into this village and we pulled out everything we had. I even managed a 5k walk in Virginia Water Surrey to raise money for this programme. I was back in Uganda at the end of June to catch up with progress on this water project
In Uganda a new form of protest led by the opposition WALK 2 WORK caught the government there by surprise and the world watched as the opposition leader was dragged through the streets of Kampala
I got to see my childhood singer Janet Jackson at a live concert in London
In July there was bad news at Ethnic Supplies we had hoped to join the Oxfam’s Supply chain but we didn’t make it because of they had to cut back due to the poor economy.
Africa got a new country South Sudan and the worst food crisis in decades continued to kill children in Somalia
In August London and other cities in the UK were set on fire for reasons that we still don’t understand several months although most have argued that it was due to systemic poverty . The phone hacking scandal hit the UK, as head rolled, the Met Police lost its Chief and News of The World Britain’s favourite tabloid closed.
September was a sad time in Ruhanga one of our 4 year old WITNESS lost her life in a hit and run accident. The bad news did not stop there, our application for a grant from Comic Relief was turned down.
Although this year marked 100 years of Women’s day a woman in Uganda was allowed to do die on a labour ward because she could not pay her hospital bill of £66
My plans to get started on that Masters degree fell to pieces in October. I was gutted and I am hoping that I will pick this up in the new year.
In November I was honoured to address a Business fights poverty gathering about my work in SW Uganda and I had to pack my bags again. In Uganda I caught up with the folk at the Uganda Coffee Development Agency and introduced them to Carmel Dennis a friend from England. We toured SW Uganda and got as far Kisoro on the border of Rwanda and Uganda. I was saddened to learn that things had not improved much for women in that region.
The beginning of December was end of term at Ruhanga Community Development School and the “turning on the taps” in Ruhanga!
The village finally had piped water . I can’t tell you what that felt like and of all the things I have done this year being part of the team that brought clean water to that village is the one thing I am most proud of. And I hope that before the year ends I can add one more achievement! BUILDING A GIRLS ONLY TOILET at Ruhanga community school. Please support my effort http://www.lethemhelpthemselves.org/news/gender-equality-the-girls-want-a-toilet-of-their-own
Technology has played a big role in my world this year and even a bigger one in shaping world events. It appears that ordinary folk are finding it easier to fight exclusion and the big men of politics can only ignore their citizens at their peril
How was 2011 for you?