This past weekend, the GROW team traveled to Kampala, Uganda for the first annual GlobeMed East Africa Forum. Edwin (WOPLAH’s Executive Director), Caleb (Ambassador of Hope), and Kenneth (WOPLAH intern) accompanied us. The forum brought together 14 GlobeMed partner organizations from across East Africa, as well as nearly 45 GROW interns currently working and living with their partners. The weekend gave the partners a chance to network and establish relationships in order to support each other, and for GROW interns to share stories, advice, and encouragement.
Our trip to Uganda on Thursday went smoothly, and we arrived in Kampala for dinner with the GlobeMed network. On Friday morning, we heard about the power of community from Charles Matovu and Steven Malinzi from Kitovu Mobile AIDS Organization. The two talked about the need to strike a balance between supporting a community while allowing the community to maintain its autonomy.
After lunch, we saw a panel discussion that offered perspectives on partnership. Ash Rogers, a panelist from The Segal Family Foundation, had a great analogy to describe a successful partnership. She explained: If you are walking to Kampala, and get lost and do not know where you are going, if I give you a motorbike, you are not going to get there faster. You are just going to get lost faster. The GROW team realized that we must share a common vision with WOPLAH in order to have a successful partnership.
At the end of the day, we received a second key take-away from Maya Cohen, GlobeMed’s Executive Director. Reflecting on the day, Maya explained that the early years of partnership are about building trust—the basis of which is kept promises that prove that both sides of the partnership have each other’s best interests at heart. When wondering why we are doing fundraising and hard work all year, we will be able to remind ourselves that the work is for the beneficiaries, but it is also for the sustainability of our partnership with WOPLAH.
Finally, this weekend was special for our GROW team in that it marks the beginning of our internship at WOPLAH. For most of the GROW interns that we met this weekend, their internships with their partner organizations were coming to an end. We were able to talk to interns and get advice and insights that otherwise would not have been available to us. We realized from conversations with other GROW teams that it is key to understand the structure and organization of our partner early on in the internship. This means asking more questions than our partners probably ever want to answer.
Sorry for the long post, hopefully this proves just how valuable the weekend at the East Africa Forum was for the GROW team. Now we are back on the home-front in Mumias, and we had a great day visiting a HIV/AIDS support group. More to come from Rory tomorrow!