Well, it’s time that I write again. For those who read my last blog, I attempted to leave on a cliff hanger by talking about my situation in Kenya vs. Uganda. Lame, I know. It’s quite an interesting story in itself, but the gist of it is that I got switched from my project in Northern Uganda to a regional project in Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda. So, after 2 days in Uganda, I took a flight to Kenya for a project orientation and to meet the team. However, this project isn’t the traditional TechnoServe agriculture value chain project empowering smallholder farmers, but it focuses on helping rural youth gain the ability to find jobs through an intensive training, capacity building, and mentorship program along with linking those youth to job opportunities and seed funding to begin farming and other entrepreneurship opportunities. It’s been an awesome experience, and I am super passionate about the work as it’s estimate that youth unemployment rate in these countries range from 40 to 60% of youth.
The holidays have been an interesting time in Uganda. I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with about 25 Americans and 1 British (poor guy). The joke came up that Americans have two celebrations for independence from the British. Needless to say, we had a pretty awesome time playing cricket and eating turkey. Christmas was a bit different as most ex-pats pack up their bags and return to their respective countries. For me, I had a “Jewish Christmas”, which basically meant that some Jewish friends an some outliers went out to Chinese food. Legend has it that Chinese restaurants are one of the only types of restaurants open on Christmas and because Jewish people don’t celebrate Christmas, they go to Chinese food. Here’s a really funny post from the “Chinese Restaurant Association” (http://www.happyplace.com/13009/chinese-restaurant-note-thanks-jews-for-eating-chinese-on-christmas). Not sure if it’s for real or not :0)
What else have I been up to lately other than working and holidaying? Hmmm, I’m starting a joint US-Uganda business with a friend here that’s taken up quite a bit of time. More details to come… I’ve also had the opportunity to go Gorilla trekking in Rwanda this month. My friends and I were trying to go trekking followed by a volcano hike in Congo, but we ended up only doing the trekking as we heard of potential post election violence in Congo. That was enough for me to postpone the trip 🙂 Gorilla trekking is another story. I came under the impression that it’s would be a 5 minute hike to see the gorillas, 1 hour with the gorillas, and then a 3-4 minute hike back for a total of 1 hour and 7-8 minutes. I couldn’t have been more WRONG. Get this – 3 hour climb straight up a muddy hill surrounded by thorns and thistles up to around 9000-10,000 ft. Apparently, Rwandans don’t believe in a thing Americans love called switchbacks, which allow the hiker to feel that he is capable of doing climbs. It was pretty awesome to see the gorillas less than a meter away in their natural habitat, but the 2 hour hike back and the ensuing pouring rain made me question the worth of the $500/per ticket price tag. It will always be one of those things that I’ll question.
Well, that’s my update for now. Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and I’ll try to write an update again soon!