FSD JINJA-UGANDA

Program Reviews

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Charlie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I spent two months in Jinja, Uganda as part of FSD's program. During my time there I lived with a host family and worked at a small solar company focused on bringing electricity to off-grid communities. At my host organization I got to experience the sales and business processes a local organization used, as well as lead a small project between a local school and my host organization. I really enjoyed the experience and felt like it gave me a very authentic experience of the country. The site team was always available by phone and I was within a ~30 minute trip of their headquarters, so there was always support available. In addition, at the beginning of the program there's a training that walks you through how to get around and other unique practices that most Americans aren't used to. I'd highly recommend the program and Uganda itself is a great place to travel to as well!

What would you improve about this program?
I was really happy with how it went, but one improvement may be adding additional structure to the internship at the host organization itself.
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Caleb
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I traveled to Uganda for the first time in 2018 and was able to have a fulfilling and productive experience with FSD. Before departure, I appreciated how the site team reached out to chat with me about any questions and concerns I had and made sure to answer them as fully as possible. While I was with my host organization in-country, I knew that while I was with them in a nearby community, the site team was available to contact at any point. Because of the leadership and structure at FSD Jinja, and its partnerships with various organizations in the community, I was able to work with a team of students to promote sustainability and live in the culture of the country. I would highly recommend this internship to anyone who is looking for a unique, sometimes uncomfortable, but highly rewarding experience.

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Michael
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I immensely enjoyed working in education with children and adolescents who were very clearly eager to learn. I was privileged enough to enjoy a beautiful bond with them and felt very much respected and trusted by the school and the surrounding community. I helped to promote good academic habits and develop education curricula. I think of my time at St Stephens School every single day with warm memories. I also developed personal skills by learning the process of writing a grant and collaborating with community members to pursue objectives THEY deemed to be necessary. Learning the process of how to properly engage the community and determine their needs based on their perspective is invaluable and a skill set i will surely be using time and again.

What would you improve about this program?
I think this program was well designed. For me personally, i was able to enjoy the entire experience as an adventure and a challenge
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Joel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The experience of being able to come to this country and work with the people there was something that I never expected to have the impact on me that it did. I went there not knowing really what to expect and was blown away with how friendly everyone was and how welcome I felt. This experience was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I will carry the memories and experience that I received in everything that I do from this point forward. If someone is looking for an experience that will give you an opportunity that is not normally offered into experience something that you’ve not experienced before than this is the opportunity that you’re looking for. I have made lifelong friends and worked with people that I would not have had the opportunity to. I strongly recommend this program to anyone that wants to help make a difference and make new friends and family.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
The answer to this question is similar to what I found to be the most nerve part for me. When you go here make Sure to view this as a learning experience and to keep an open mind. But I also know that you were going to have fun and be well taken care of. If you have any questions or have any problems feel free to reach out to the support network that you will build and with the people on site.
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Willow
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My experience with this program was over-the-top of any expectations I had before participating. Not only were FSD staff supportive, experienced, knowledgable, and fun, the partner organization I was paired with really helped me integrate into the Jinja community and supported my learning experience. I think of both groups of leaders as family now! During my time in the program, I interned with Community Concerns Uganda (CCUg), working alongside two of their current micro-finance groups. These two groups showed interest in taking on a food-related, income-generating activity. Community members, CCUg Staff, and myself then took on a training project to cultivate oyster mushrooms. This experience has been the most highlighted project on my resume as an MPA student, majoring in International Development, particularly executing the work plan and budgeting aspect in a real setting.

If I have anything to share with future participants/students in this program, I would say really allow yourself to learn from the community you are immersed in and remain open-minded. Get involved in any and every community and cultural event that is presented to you. And really embrace participatory learning and sustainable development (which FSD staff does an amazing job of teaching during orientation). Your program may not be long, but the projects you help implement have the ability to have lasting impacts if you really focus on stakeholders in the community and resources available!

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Esther
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The best parts of my experience in Uganda were the relationships I had with my community, the Nakanyonyi Orphan Care and Women's Support Group, the time I spent with my host sister, and the opportunity to visit Murchison Falls National Park. I developed a passion for facilitation and the necessary skills to be a good facilitator. You get what you put into this program. There is very little accountability, which is more a factor of development work than this program, so it's up to you to keep yourself accountable and do you best work.

The site team are welcoming and overall great people. Their main focus is keeping you healthy and safe, which they do a very good job of. They do not have the time to help you very much with your project. Most of the time I enjoyed this freedom and lack of guidance, but if you are someone you needs more direction in your work this probably isn't the program for you.

I wish the program would be more transparent when it comes to what your money is being spent on.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you don't have relevant experience or course work related to international development and sustainable development, do your research before hand. Understand the implications of being a white people and/or American in Uganda. The site team isn't going to walk you through all of this.
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Hannah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This internship was an amazing opportunity for me to learn and practice valuable professional skills like communication, grant writing, budgeting, and problem-solving. I learned so much about my own potential as a professional using my International Relations major in the field, and how to use my skills and experiences to help others. The community capacity building model of FSD teaches interns to give back by empowering others, and make communities stronger through teamwork and collective problem solving. The FSD team was very helpful in training us to do fieldwork, from practicing Luganda language skills to learning how to write a grant and create a work plan. I had an amazing host family, ate some of the best food I've ever experienced, and got to go on some once in a lifetime field trips to the source of the Nile River and Sipi Falls. I can't recommend this program enough for how much experience it gives interns.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have a more involved relationship between FSD and the heads of partner institutions. At my work station, it was difficult at times to complete tasks on time because of absent officials from our partner institution.
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Isaac
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved my summer abroad working with FSD. The unique program model is perfectly suited for sustainable development. The site team, made up of locals, is incredibly knowledgeable on the topics they teach and care so much about the sustainability of the projects. Agency of the partner organizations is key and projects are directly developed with the local communities they serve. I cannot even begin to express how much I learned during my internship. I would 100% recommend this program for anyone that is seeking to have a rewarding experience in a way that respects local communities. Often times, programs such as these focus exclusively on the volunteer and work that is done is counter-productive to actual development. However, I found that this is absolutely not the case for FSD.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
If I were to do this experience again I would spend more time reading the local newspaper.
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Atnasia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Since my arrival at Uganda I have been pleasantly surprised by the general kindness and positivity of the people. Thought my time there I felt very supported and well oriented by the FSD staff, whom I now consider dear friends.
Throughout my time in Uganda I worked directly with St. Francis, which was my host organization [just one of many that FSD works with]. My Project in was a community based participatory research, aimed at evaluating the impact elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV (EMTCT) . The most gratifying thing, for me, was to also take part in coming up with ways that could address the gaps existing within EMTCT that were identified through the process of the research itself. The research has yielded a lot of priority focus areas for St. Francis; and we were able to work together to incorporate a program that we believe will work to meet the needs of participants in the program.
Overall, being involved in a community-based research in St. Francis was one of the best experiences I have ever had. It not only included being apart of a research, but also being apart of a remarkable organization that continuously and full heartedly strives to develop its community and other neighboring ones. Understanding the organizations culture, being apart of some organization meetings, going to the field to see staff implement some of their projects with the community, seeing how the different parts at the health center function, and etc. had been a wonderful learning experience.

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Julian
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

It is the philosophy of FSD that I think is so good. In their name, “sustainable” refers to the fact that the projects the interns work on are self perpetuating. A Ugandan once said to me, “donations have destroyed Africa,” and by that I believe he meant that coming into the country and just leaving some resources behind is not helpful to anyone. Instead, the generation of business and transfer of skills are the most valuable things. FSD gives you great freedom to work on what you want and guides you to ensure you project fits this model of a sustainable social enterprise. For the project to be sustainable the materials must be sourced locally, people from the community need to be the primary labor force and the utility must be relevant to progressing the standards of living of the community.

Being interested in technology, I worked with another intern on solar energy. FSD introduced us to the Lwemodde Youth Group which tinkers around with electronics and had an interest in the subject. The youth group pointed us to a small fishing village called Malembo which was not on the electricity grid. Our project was to then help the youth group build a small solar power company by teaching and helping them with the initial grid. It was very rewarding to see some of the villagers get connected and receive night time lighting and phone charging services. The youth group now has another source of income, part of which they use for community projects.

Without FSD guidance we certainly would not have used our time as effectively. In terms of setting us up in the country the local FSD organizers were very useful. Uganda can be a difficult adjustment for many and so the team put effort into our orientation which included a bit of history, cultural lessons and language. They tried very hard to find us the best host families possible. One of the best doctors in town doctor was brought in to tell us about how to keep safe against diseases we normally do not encounter such as Malaria. We were given all sorts of ways to access this doctor’s services or others if need be. In my summer term, there were 14 interns and FSD helped us socialize and go on trips together. We were able to travel to others parts of the county, experience the Nile river and see Queen Elizabeth park. It would not have been as comforting or as good a set up for our work without the FSD team.