Internship to Uganda #4


Kerri Carleton is a young member of Elkhorn Hills UMC.  She is working in Kamuli, Uganda (Africa) this summer and is keeping in touch with family and friends through her blog.  Her family has given permission for us to share information about her experience.

Please keep Kerri and her team in your prayers during her internship.  Prayers for safety and strength!  You may contact Donna Carleton for information about donating to Kerri to assist her with expenses.

Week of June 19.  (Report for week 2 of 6.)

Activities and Accomplishments

This week has been a lot more challenging than I expected. On Wednesday, I started my internship, but I was only able to observe the water sources in Kamuli. These sources include boreholes, shallow wells, and water tanks that collect rainwater. The term “shallow well” can mean either a literal well that was not drilled very deep into the earth, so a couple hundred feet, or basically a tiny pond that has collected runoff and rainwater.

The first day of this was great, because I had not known what to expect in terms of my research and I was able to add a few things before everything was set in stone. The downside is seeing the horrible quality of water that hundreds of households rely on that cattle and other livestock stand in and drink directly out of.

On Thursday, I continued these observations and helped out at the school gardens when I had a spare moment. Although seeing these giant puddles of muck really took an emotional toll on me, I was still excited to finalize my interview questions and consent forms to start surveying, especially because any answers I got during this observation phase I cannot use to present publicly, thanks to the IRB. Unfortunately, I was told that due to a lot of uncontrollable events I would have to wait until Monday to start my surveys. This was really discouraging, especially because Friday did not go very well either.


I started the day by teaching my first class, and it did not go as planned. The kids had a really hard time understanding me, because this is the first year Iowa State students are teaching at this school, and a lot of them do not know English. My teaching partner did a great job translating, but math is hard enough on kids that it was an overwhelming experience for us all.

First Day of Teaching

On the bright side, teaching on Monday went a lot better once we became more organized. The weekend was really well spent. We started by transplanting a full-grown tree on the construction site for the new compound, and I had never seen that before. Sunday, I accompanied one of the staff members to church, and it was a really great experience of love and life in the community.

Monday after teaching is where things started to look discouraging again. I came into the week with really high spirits because I was finally able to start surveys. Unfortunately, my translator was sick and could not make it, so I had to spend the rest of the day gardening. It was productive and not bad by any means, I just felt let down. Today (Tuesday) was the best day in terms of my internship I’ve had. We got to help construct a concrete 6,000 liter water tank from scratch, and I finally started my surveys.

What is Going Well

The best thing during this week was again, team bonding and getting to know the staff and my translator. My translator and I have a really good working relationship, although he tends to act like my dad at times because he has never heard of a sunburn before and was mortified by mine, and therefore treats me as if I’m fragile. It’s hilarious!

What Needs To Be Changed

Time management and organization would be nice, but I am officially on Uganda time and I am still trying to work on that whole flexibility and patience thing.

What I Am Doing Well

I am talking about the sad things and hard concepts we face every day with the other students in this group, which is really important to me because I am rather sensitive when it comes to this type  of stuff. I do feel really sad sometimes, but it’s necessary to talk about instead of bottle it up.

What Do I Need to Change

I really need to create a list of things to do when I cannot for some reason follow my internship schedule. Hiccups in transportation and time management are common, so if I knew exactly what needed to be done in the gardens when I’m sitting around waiting for my ride at school I think I would be more productive.

How Can I Affect Change in the Internship

I can affect change by getting rid of all of my expectations. ISU-UP is understaffed at the moment and the Makerere students have yet to arrive, which is making the program have to be run differently in the past and it is disappointing us all. If we appreciate and focus on the positive things, everything will get better.


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