Before heading out to Uganda, we had all sorts of grand plans about each organization posting a blog on a different day so that we can #collaborate to cross-promote each other. As always, the best laid plans of mice & men go belly-up from the moment we get to Kampala. Will Koon (ISLA) was the advance party, with Dan & Justin (LWB) arriving a couple of days after… albeit without Justin’s luggage, which joined us from Amsterdam three days later. It was a fast and furious trip, with a very full agenda – and lots of meetings with all sorts of people.
Our first day consisted of a drive out to Jinja to see the source of the Nile, and a look around the region. It was fascinating to see the “Victoria Nile” as it is called there, and how different it was to the Nile in Sudan. Amazing to think about how the river changes along its length, yet the risks and challenges to the communities that live along the banks are very much the same.
The three days of training went quite well – it was a really nice pool venue, with everything we needed very close together. As expected, the skill levels of the participants varied enormously – from some members of the Ugandan National Swim Team, right down to people who would drown if they went into the deep end of the swimming pool.
The key reason for us attending, was to support a significant “stakeholder” meeting. This was a huge effort by Moses Kalanzi to bring together the key movers and shakers – no mean feat in Uganda.
There were representatives from the Ministry of Education & Sport, the chairman of the National Council of Sports, a Colonel from the Uganda Police Defense Force, a representative from the Ugandan Marine Police. These are key agencies to link with, as they have the ability to influence schools and policies, and also the police have significant resources that are currently on focussed around the recovery of dead bodies, and not any drowning prevention.
On the aquatic side of things, the Uganda Swimming Federation, Uganda Lifesaving Federation, the Royal Lifesaving Society Uganda, and SwimSafe Uganda were all represented.
The message from the Ministry was clear;
Together you are stronger. You need to work as one body, and you need to speak to us with one voice.
The desire to work together is there, and the different organizations do have different strengths, and bring different elements to the table. A clear agenda was set to start to move things forwards – based on suggestions from the Police, and from the Ministry. The date for the next meeting is the 6th of December.
We are very much looking forward to hearing all about the work that will be started. Expert support from international bodies is useful as a catalyst to start this kind of work – but the driving forces have to be local people. We are not there to build another international NGO – we are there to help the local organizations become more effective at the work they are already doing.
– Dan Graham, Co-Founder of Nile Swimmers
Note: This article was reposted with the permission of the Author. The original blog can be found here.
Watch a brief interview with ISLA’s William Koon about Project Uganda 2014: