Sooooo…. many people are wondering what the heck I am doing here. An accountant as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uganda seems to be a strange combo. Some may have assumed that only teachers, nurses and tree-hugging-hippies* serve in the Peace Corps. But there are people from many different professions and backgrounds serving all around the world. So stay tuned because Im going to give you the scoop:
The sector is Community Economic Development (CED); and more specific to Uganda it is also knows as AgriBusiness, aka “Ag.” Basically Peace Corps arranges for each volunteer to work with an existing organization within their host country. My partner organization is Chemonics International Inc, contracted with the USAID Uganda Feed the Future Commodity Production and Marketing Activity (USAID FTF CPM). Google that monstrosity my friends.
Soooo…. What the heck do I do? Well, Im still sorting that out. The first weeks have been sprinkled with some house-hunting, meet-and-greets, conferences and moving. The focus has been building a trusting relationship with local farmers and traders. Basically our activities’ mission is to improve the livelihood of rural farmers in the Eastern Region of Uganda. My role is to develop the financially literacy of farming associations and cooperatives, also referred to as traders. By teaching basic accounting and bookkeeping skills we aim to enable farming groups to establish a business-focused approach. This may extend opportunities for expansion through access to credit. Or these skills will simply empower farmers to better negotiate with input supplies and buyers. Overall our sights are set on a sustainable approach to economic development. This means transfer of knowledge from our organization to the community versus the donors approach. After all, knowledge is power.
But if this answer does not suffice, find me on Linked-In for a more detailed description: Cynthia Handle
*Disclaimer: I love all you tree-hugging-hippies! Uganda needs some serious hugs and love from you. Population growth, urbanization, deforestation and pollution are severely impacting the local environment. Micro-climates and unstable weather patterns are negatively impacting the rural farming communities. Please come help the Ugandan ecosystem!