My experience at Fontes Foundation in Uganda has been very enriching. Finding your way in a country and working environment that is so different to anything you know is challenging, yet highly rewarding. Fontes Foundation is currently in the process of formalizing efforts and strengthening the entrepreneurial focus in its Youth Development projects. I was fortunate enough to join the organization in such dynamic and exciting times, having the chance to actively engage myself in various ventures.
My first personal highlight was the co-organisation of the first ever Fontes Foundation Career Day. It was deeply satisfying to see – after initial difficulties – how sharply dressed students presented their startup ideas, around sixteen companies decorated their booths with banners, flyers and brochures to attract possible employees and our partners Jumia Jobs, DFCU Bank and People Performance Group gave inspiring keynote speeches.
Today, I am delighted to be preparing myself to go on my first field trip to Western Uganda. After having done much research on safe water treatment and its impact and written various funding proposals, I am looking forward to visiting the villages we have set up safe water treatment plants in and experiencing our influence first hand. I am especially thrilled to visit the village of Katunguru, which is located within Queen Elizabeth National Park.
After this last adventure, my days at Fontes will soon come to an end. I happily look back on an insightful time. Not only did I get the chance to gather work experience in various processes of an NGO. I met many development professionals, be it government officials, development consultants, or EU and UN delegates, and learned about their career paths. This gave me a holistic understanding of the development sector and I discovered many opportunities for my professional future and how to grasp them.
Fontes Foundation strives to constantly review and improve its organizational processes, as well as provide educational opportunities for its employees. These two aims were combined in a workshop set up by our Fredskorpset (FK) South-South exchange participant Serge Iradukunda. Luckily, we were able to host Marit Blaak, who works as consultant for educational organisations in Uganda and is a PhD candidate at the University of Groeningen.
Marit sought to ignite a discussion on best teaching practices at Potentiam Youth Development Centre by having us reflect upon the diverse backgrounds and merits of our students as well as different learning types and how we deal with them in class. Thereafter, she asked us to come up with a common vision for the students and asked how we could adjust our teaching to more efficiently reach these objectives. The facilitators were glad to be given a platform to share their different teaching methods, discuss various approaches and voice challenges they face.
The following session focused on what we need to change on an institutional level to make sure we reach the goals we set for our students and ourselves. Next to an improvement in infrastructure, we discussed how we could strengthen cooperation in our team and how we could facilitate the sharing of information among team members to create a more open organizational culture.
The event was a success and Serge was delighted to have been given the opportunity to improve Fontes’ organizational structure and his own teaching skills. “I effectively learned in a compressed day what I could usually learn in a week. Marit was able to take the complex and make it simple. I now have a much better understanding on how to identify learners and develop practical facilitation techniques for different types of learners.
Serge giving the closing remarks on the successful capacity building