Rachael Long (MID'11)
I completed my internship with Bright Kids Uganda (BKU) located outside of Entebbe, Uganda in Summer 2010. Bright Kids Uganda is a local non-profit both founded and directed by Victoria Namusisi Nalongo. Her initiative began in 2000 when Nalongo's journalism career took her to internally displaced person (IDP) camps throughout Africa and to Kampala, Uganda where she worked with street children. In her work, she met countless disadvantaged children affected by the war in Northern Uganda, orphaned due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, or for lack of resources, forced to survive on the streets. To help these children deal with difficult circumstances, Nalongo began Bright Kids Uganda to provide educational opportunities and a better life for the disadvantaged children.
Her mission is centered on education, however, BKU provides everything from housing to clothing for the children. As an intern for BKU, I was able to apply the skills that I had learned in the classroom at GSPIA. I helped to organize and strengthen the administrative capacities of the organization and created a feasible budgeting system and accounting log that could be kept up to date by Victoria's administrative assistant. I also developed project proposals for income-generating enterprises and submitted one proposal to Centenary Bank, Uganda's largest development bank. The proposal is currently under review with hopes of funding for a new dormitory. I also had the opportunity to attend the BKU anniversary festivities that celebrated ten years of operation.
One of the major learning outcomes of this internship was experiencing firsthand the difficulties that small, grassroots organizations face in developing countries. More importantly, I saw how powerful small development organizations can be and the way that they positively impact the lives of individuals who receive services from them. By providing great opportunities to children who would otherwise be ignored, Bright Kids Uganda strengthens the future of Uganda. Working in the field and traveling throughout Uganda gave me invaluable experiences and a unique insight into the world of international development as well as an advanced understanding of the challenges and benefits of a career in this field.