Water, Water Everywhere…

My first few weeks of my internship started off like any other would: timing the commute, office introductions, familiarizing myself with the technology and stocking up on office supplies… but this week was drastically different. In a great way. .

My boss walked up to me that morning and asked: “Would you like to make a few phone calls…” I thought to myself, sure, why not? Then he finished his sentence “… to Uganda?” At that point, I perked up and smiled. He had just put me in charge of calling local Ugandans who were known to be politically active and very involved within their communities. Usually, they submit their observations, findings and problems to our organization via email or text message, but every once in a while, we reach out via phone call to re-emphasize our mission to create practical tools and approaches for conflict mitigation that are useful to decision-makers. 

I had in front of me an office phone, instructions on how to dial the country code for Uganda and a list of names (many of which I was sure I’d murder the pronunciation). I didn’t quite know what to expect when the first woman picked up the phone, but when it was over, I know it’s a call I’d never forget.

I started by introducing myself and stating my affiliation with the Fund for Peace. She recognized the organization immediately and was so happy to have received a phone call. After apologizing for not submitting any information recently she explained why. Eight months ago, in February 2010, she made the decision to leave her job as a Program Officer and run for a seat in the Parliament. As a result, she had been campaigning to her target audience: women in rural areas. There, she lacked access to technology. However, she didn’t lack access to valuable information.

Her story alone, let alone the ones she’d gathered from other Ugandan women, were so moving. I had to ask myself: could I give up my job and take a leap of faith to campaign for a government that is shaky at best? Could I dedicate my life savings to a cause in which I believe? Could I really make a difference?

She explained the major issue is clean water . Essentially, it is the root cause of so many other problems: sanitation, healthcare, education and agriculture. I had studied this issue in class, but never in any depth. However, when she explained that it is needed to aid pregnant women, provide clean clothes, wash foods and bathe, the reality of clean water really sunk in.

Who knew that what we take for granted coming out of our faucet every day could be the critical link between poverty and progression?