Category Archives: Review

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‘We’re raising our girls to be perfect, and we’re raising our boys to be brave’

Worth watching Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code talking about allowing half of the world’s population to be comfortable with imperfection.

Book review: Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen

Sen has written this book in 1999, a year after receiving a Nobel Price in economics for his contributions to welfare economics and social theories. At times dry and repetitive, his work however, provides a broader understanding of development. The academics have many postulates that shaped various aspects of development and tackling poverty but not throughout any of journals and books can one feel the compassion and humanity to such extent as it is in Sen’s book.

The author argues that relationship between poverty, income, inequality, unemployment, mortality, quality of life should be looked through a broad definition of development rather than narrow definitions of utility, efficiency or growth rates. 

Importantly, Sen doesn’t tend to advocate specific approaches to solving problems, but instead seems to have a broader goal of changing the way people discuss and think about developmental issues. Lesson? Development is not simple! There’s no one single problem that we can solve to fix the world and no magic solution for any problem, but rather a variety of factors to consider and several kinds of individual’s freedoms and capabilities to be worked towards.

I highly recommend it to anyone looking to learn something new and willing to tackle difficult subjects.

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End of my placement on the horizon, however…

I’ll be staying in Uganda till end of August! More on this in the next post..

Six months ago, I stepped onto Ugandan soil and started my first development work experience in Africa. In the blink of an eye, I finished my placement. Although six months’ social work seems to be short, I did learn a lot of things and got many inspirations. This experience has already played a huge part in my future career path. What did I learn and were my expectations pre-departure met?

1. Development work, in particular community work is very rewarding but has its challenges. 

Working with communities feels a little bit like sailing on a windy day. Hard work, overwhelming at times, and thrilling. I wasn’t sure what to expect before leaving London, all I knew is that I have certain goals and objectives to meet ‘working together with the community’. But how does one define a community? What are its boundaries? Who do you talk to when you “work with” a community? Who are its leaders? A few personal remarks:

  • Anticipate low turn out – at least initially. And bad time management throughout the work. Community takes time to gain trust and patience to teach the importance of respecting time.
  • You cannot solve all their problems, actually you cannot solve most of their problems. In rural Uganda almost everything needs attention: hygiene, infrastructure, access to clean water, education, literacy… the list is endless. Tight focus work on particular task works best. Slowly but surely together with the people you can move forward.
  • Give people voice and make them feel appreciated and valued. Even if this means taking a snap of them, listening to them. Appreciation of another human being isn’t that common so giving people a small gesture of love is something they treasure.

2. The rewards of community work exceeds its difficulties. 

At least for me. This was probably the most challenging work I have ever done but it has brought me the biggest satisfaction. Offering people your time, advise and giving them skills which will improve their lives on unthinkable scale is just something that cannot be described.

3. Africa is big, bold and beautiful.

Before coming to Uganda I haven’t even have Africa on my ‘bucket list’. Oh that has definitely changed now! Ugandan landscapes, its culture and people have won a place in my heart and I’m very eager to explore more of the continent.

4. The work done over the past 6 months has confirmed I’m heading in the right direction. 

This placement was very much a trial step for me in order to have an absolute certainty that international development is something I want to a) do a master in and b) pursue a career going forward. I’ve always dreamed of doing something on a voluntary basis abroad, however life has taken a different course for me until recently. The work I have done in Uganda has given me the peace of mind I needed that this is indeed something I want to be doing for a living, in a long-term future. And I am very happy to announce that I have been accepted into the London School of Economics for the Development Management MSc degree starting September!

 

 

The shadow of the sun – a must read

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I am not sure why have I discovered Kapuscinski’s memoir from Africa only now! Worth a read even if you hold no interest in the continent (wait till you read it).

In 1957, Ryszard Kapuscinski arrived in Africa to witness the beginning of the end of colonial rule as the first African correspondent of Poland’s state newspaper. From Ghana to Rwanda, he hitchhikes with caravans, wanders the Sahara with nomads, and lives in the poverty-stricken slums of Nigeria. What emerges from pages of the book is an extraordinary view of Africa–not as a group of nations or geographic locations–but as a vibrant and frequently joyous montage of peoples, cultures, and encounters.