When you travel to the northern region of Uganda from Kampala, you will have to cross one of the world’s most famous rivers: the Nile. The Nile River is more than just an incredible force of water that flows with authority from Lake Victoria through to Lake Albert and on to South Sudan. For this largely agrarian country, the Nile River is truly a source of life.  The vast majority of Uganda lies in the Nile Basin, and this geographical reality helps to make the country a rich, fertile land. (more…)

In more than thirty years as a widow, I’ve never seen a group work with widows like this. Never.” - Kristin Lokwea Bungatira, Gulu District

Traveling through northern Uganda last week, the long rural roads led us to groups of women, typically waiting under the shade of an enormous tree. They had assembled together because we asked them to meet us as part of our survey of TCON’s agricultural initiatives. In March, we coordinated maize and bean seed to reach over 30,000 similar women- mostly widows, caring for children and orphans, working to rebuild stable lives in this post-conflict region. Now, with the first planting season of 2012 in the books, it was time to see the results of the seed given. (more…)

Spending Time with Immaculate in Soroti

One of the things I look forward to most whenever I visit Uganda is eating chapati. Before I returned to the US after a six-month stay in Uganda back in 2006, I attempted to learn firsthand how to create this flatbread from Immaculate, TCON’s infamous cook. Considering the only two ingredients in this flatbread are water and flour, one might presume that it is a relatively easy recipe to create. I had to sit through a handful of demonstrations by Immaculate, however, because without specific measurements I struggled to accomplish the right proportions of each of the ingredients. Now, over 5 years since I departed Uganda, I am still unable to master the art of chapati-making. In fact, I have given up trying and opt instead to get my chapati fix each time I visit Uganda.

I learned on this trip that Immaculate’s chapati is perhaps the best chapati in all of Soroti (the district where our Uganda office resides). So of course hers is likely to put my best effort to shame! In fact, Immaculate’s cooking in general is known to be exceptional. In a conversation with Immaculate on this recent trip I learned about how she began her own catering business on the side to fill her time and increase her income generation when she’s not working at the TCON house. (more…)

Wating for Dinner at Teso Widows Conference

Outside of the TCON conference center in Soroti, the cooks were preparing a meal for the ladies in the yard.  This was something I was interested in seeing during my first visit to Uganda.  Its one thing to imagine hundreds of women gathering together for several days at a widows conference, but the practical details like meal planning are harder to envision!  It’s safe to say that the size of the main pot cooking the beans was roughly equivalent to the size of my first car in high school. (more…)

Identifying that women and girls are frequently objectified is not a new discovery. From the MILLIONS of girls forced into prostitution each year to the over-sexualization and objectification of women and girls in the media, the perception and portrayal of women as objects to be acted upon or used for the pleasure of another is a rampant cross-cultural norm. This tragic perspective, which is often at the root of gender oppression, permeates Ugandan culture as well. (more…)

Its been nearly a month now since I’ve returned from my first trip to Uganda.  It takes some time to process what you see when you visit any foreign country, and this country particularly highlighted that rule.  No doubt, there are practical questions we were asking as an organization: What is the status of our projects on the ground?  How are the widows that we support progressing?  What things will we do differently to improve our impact?  But when you dig deeper into the challenges facing a particular context, there often emerges one resonating theme that still rings in your heart long after you leave.  For me, that feature was simple:  To be a woman in Uganda is to lead a life that will face constant inequity, challenges, and lack of opportunity, simply because of your gender. (more…)