vrijdag 6 september 2013

My visit to the Netherlands (Justine Ojambo)

I take the opportunity to thank Pefo Netherlands and the organizers of the Ugandan day 2013 for inviting me as one the speakers on the 21st of April at RAI in Amsterdam. Besides sharing what PEFO Uganda is doing to support the Grandmothers and the grandchildren under their care, I had the exposure to other Dutch NGOs supporting projects in Uganda. For me it was a moment of encounter, networking and indentifying any opportunities of working together and complementing each other where possible with other NGOs. I met and discussed with number of Dutch NGOs whom I have maintained contact as I figure out possibilities of networking and learning from each other. For example the organization baking for life supporting a number of projects in Uganda has inquired if PEFO would be in position to sell to their partner in Jinja earth bricks for the construction of their baking school for children with disability in Jinja. Mr. Marienk Lodewijk whom I also met during the Ugandan day is planning to construct a plumbing school in Kamuli Uganda and has asked his partners in Ugandan to contact and visit PEFO for the possibility of buying Earth bricks from PEFO for their Kamuli project. I also met a Ugandan living in the Netherlands and founder of the Africa cultural foundation based in the Netherlands. We are figuring out opportunities of working together and if possible have some activities on cultural exchanges between Uganda and the Netherlands.

Besides the above mentioned engagements and exposure there were also other very important moments for me that the invitation created like, attending the ceremony in Amsterdam when Prince William- Alexander was taking over the leadership of the Dutch Kingdom from his mother queen Beatrix. During the ceremony in the square by coincidence I also met jan huys the brother of fr. Wynand Huys whom I last met so many years. It was very exciting to meet Jan whom I had just emailed about my visit and had no hope of meeting him during my visit. On the same day also met my high school old boy whom I had lost track of indeed we had great memories of our high school days. Staying with Tim and Anna the chairperson of the Uganda day provided me with a lot moments of reflection about the work I do in Uganda this was great because while in Uganda I engage a lot in doing and less reflection. I enjoyed telling Tim how beautiful Uganda is and in the end we struck a deal Tim is planning to visit Uganda next Year. My visit and staying with trees and Rene at their home was great it was a moment of resting and slowing down, the experience of being in the Netherlands when our friends Erwin& Annette were getting their first child Hanna Rose whom they named after our late staff Rose was very full filling. I indeed enjoyed visiting them and doing some `babysitting` as we discussed the principles that will guide our future communication as they volunteer to do PEFO NL work.   My visit to Alex & annemie in Maastricht whom I also regard as my Dutch parents was a moment of total rest and filling up. Being with them and physically updating them about my family in Uganda and especially sharing my parenting experience of my children Alex jr and Annemie jr whom my wife Diana and I named after them was great .I also briefed them about the progress of PEFO Uganda work and for them it was great experience to reflect back about their contribution of having PEFO registered in the Netherlands. My meeting with Grannies 2 grannies groups and having a firsthand experience in their efforts to raise funds for our Granny housing projects in Uganda was very humbling. I really appreciated and was equally challenged by the commitments and resilience of these Dutch grannies in helping their Ugandan counter parts in accessing decent shelter. The opportunity of being the guest speaker at this year`s WorldGranny spring drinks event gave me the chance to meet some of their stakeholders and sharing with them our efforts in improving the living conditions grandmothers in Uganda. I must say the visit to the Netherlands provided me with many other memorable events and experiences that I have not been able to share in this write-up but still remain dear to me. However lastly but not least am so grateful to the Carolusgulden foundation in Leiden the main funders of our Housing project in Uganda for giving me the opportunity to share with them about the progress of the project during their Board meeting. It was quite an experience taking me and showing me some of their projects and rich dutch traditions and cultures of the city of Leiden.

Warm regards,
Justine Ojambo

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