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Joining A Team

January 25, 2009

August 27, 2008

I joined the Artfully AWARE team in Jinja, Uganda on 16th June. I’d first been to Uganda three years previously with a different organisation, so it was exciting to be back in the country again, but this time with a different agenda. It was a good experience traveling out there by myself, and I arrived tired, excited and full of mixed ideas as to what to expect over the following week.

On my first day we travelled to Mbale where we stayed for a few days and started by visiting the Women’s Concern Centre. Listening to Edith’s story of how they began and what their achievements and further aims are, inspired and encouraged me about the good that can be done in small communities as the local women worked eagerly together.

I appreciated the day off on Wednesday when we travelled to Kumi to see some ancient rock art and then on to the beautiful Sipi falls; as it was a great opportunity to spend some more time with the team, and I got to know them better.

Soon we travelled on to Tororo where we visited Tororo Youth Centre, a place that Hilary and Justin had worked with a couple years previously. It was great to meet about twenty local youth who remembered Hilary and Justin and were full of enthusiasm to further develop their learned skills in the arts. I found it really exciting to see how determined they were to continue the programmes Hilary and Justin had started. Their enthusiasm to further explore their various skills and use them to help work with the other local communities in Tororo inspired me about the work we can all do together.

When we went to the Kwapa Post Test Centre, the amazing welcome of singing and dancing almost brought me to tears; the women there were incredible, and the sense of community was very strong. We enjoyed a wonderful meeting sharing our hopes and aims for how we can work together. It was wonderful to see all the paintings still on the wall that they’d done for Hilary and Justin’s previous programme. I enjoyed contributing to the discussion and introducing some ideas of how we could potentially use textiles to produce some products to sell in the UK and USA in order to raise further funds to help sustain the centre and its art programmes.

Another highlight of the trip was visiting the Nyalokot Post Centre. It was a meeting of a small community that met under a mango tree to support and encourage each other in whichever way possible. They were wonderful dancers and singers and were clearly very excited at the prospect of doing the art programmes with Justin and Brian Pade. It felt very special to be with them and learn from each other.

One of the other visits we made was to the Tororo Girls School. It was very saddening to hear of the ways in which they’d been let down by previous organisations that had not followed up their promises. This had consequentially led to a lot of understandable distrust towards new organisations. However, we met with a few of the girls who showed us some of their wonderful artwork. The girls had a real talent and love for the work, so it was quite moving to assure of them of the way in which we could help them pursue their gifts.

The Blind Guitarist from Nyalokot Community in Tororo, Uganda.

The Blind Guitarist from Nyalokot Community in Tororo, Uganda.

A lot happened in those few days around East Uganda, and we met some amazing people who I’m so glad we have the privilege of working with. One thing I really appreciate about Artfully AWARE is that we work with these different communities according to whatever way would be individually most fruitful to them. So this trip has been incredibly useful as we were able to personally meet these communities to discuss how we can work together. I can’t wait to watch individual lives and communities transform and grow as we share the experience of working together to celebrate each other’s unique cultures and talents.

Katie Williams

Art Consultant

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