Tag Archives: learning

2011: The year of learning

I just said goodbye to the hardest year of my life so far…


I know that doesn’t mean much, considering I’m actually only 26 and have lived a pretty cruisy life by world standards.

But this year has been really tough. For a thousand different reasons. There are lots of other more positive adjectives though too, like rewarding, fulfilling, exciting, adventurous, unexpected, validating, and of course…learning. Learning, learning and more learning.

It’s a funny thing, how you learn a lot, develop your character and get over yourself a little bit when life is challenging and you get out of your comfort zone…

Even Paul from the early church agrees with me: ‘We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling short changed. Quite the contrary – we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit.’ (The message)

I have learnt so much this year. Sometimes I wish I could go back and visit myself, that naive girl at the start of the year, and tell her that it all works out ok. That things will be difficult but that through all the hard stuff, I ended up learning what I needed to learn, to be able to live in Kamwenge…

So how am I different from last year at New Years?

I’ve learnt about moving to another place. I’ve learnt…

How to say goodbye to some of my closest friends and still remain involved in their lives

How to live apart from my family

How to open my house for inspection and rent it out…

How to move my entire life to another part of the world

I’ve learnt about how to live in Kamwenge. I’ve learnt:

How to speak (a little bit) in another language

How to make friends in another culture so different from my own

How to cook using only food available in Kamwenge, including Uganda’s famous Matooke dish

How to use a cigiri (a traditional charcoal stove)

How to wash clothes by hand at a break neck pace

How to bargain so that I don’t get mzungu prices all the time

How to live without a fridge (something I’m still working on…)

How to light a Kerosene lamp

I’ve learnt a lot about running an organisation. I’ve learnt:

How to manoeuvre through a million bureaucratic-red-tape-scenarios

A LOT about construction, materials, and all sorts of building-related things.

How to manage staff with Michael (10 at last count…!)

How to work with the police to arrest someone who is stealing from you

How to conduct job interviews and board meetings

How to import a shipping container

How to use Quickbooks, manage finances, sort out legal issues, and put on a great event…

How to avoid paying bribes (although I certainly don’t have a 100% success rate with this one!)

I’ve learnt some extra bits and pieces that have made life easier. I’ve learnt:

How to grow cassava, matooke, zuchinni, garlic and a whole bunch of other food

How to drive a massive old hilux ute –reluctantly, even on Kampala’s chaotic streets.

How to pick milk from the dairy, boil it, and scrape the cream off the top for later

How to work 9-5 with my husband and still have a great marriage

How to (begin) writing a thesis – including all sorts of useful stuff about methodology, field research and ethics, things I use to have no idea about.

How to enjoy cold water showers!

How to LET GO of my drive for efficiency, timelines and plans and embrace ‘community’…


It’s been a big year. Here’s hoping next year is a little more chilled…