It’s easy to focus on the many challenges and frustrations of trying to do technical work and support in Food for the Hungry’s (FH) communities in Uganda. Your typical day can be interrupted anytime when the power goes off or when your Internet service cuts out.
You’re fortunate if your office has a good-working generator whose voltage is stable and gives you a backup power supply.
If not, you may have to hit the streets looking for a hotel or cafe that is likely to have power and working Internet. Add that to your roundtrip commute time of anywhere from two to five hours.
But the good side is that FH staff truly appreciate the technical support and value the help during a time of need. The simplest software tip or user training can have large impact.
In Uganda, there is a growing number of young students and graduates studying information technology and seeking to grow. It’s a key industry just like everywhere else in the world. There is a great hunger to learn here. It’s inspiring.
In reality, it is a country that is still developing. None of us can go faster or ahead of the infrastructure or bandwidth speed in place. We advance together. We move as a community.
Sometimes, we move as a region. You see some of the current fiber optic cables that supply us Internet come from the undersea cables in the Indian Ocean. It goes through our neighboring countries like Kenya and Tanzania, before making its way inland toward Uganda.
If there’s a major issue near its source, it can bring us all down. We’re down together. When there is a local fiber cut in town, then the entire side of town may be down. We along with our neighbors all must wait together.
If I open my mind, I see that it’s not really all about technology. Most here don’t care if you have the latest iPhone or tablet or the latest and best of items. People want to have household income to feed their families and put a roof over their heads, to see quality education for their children, to have reliable public services like equipped hospitals, trustworthy police officers and honest service delivery.
Many people say technology has changed the way we live, work and communicate. I would agree. As we are also learning, more and more technology can also be used to fight, steal and destroy each other. I guess the outcome lies in our hearts, our intent, motivation and what we do with the resources entrusted to us from above.
As FH works to build communities, we also work to build the mindset of working together for the good of each other. Together, we can work to end poverty in all areas of life.
Kevin Choo works as the IT Administrator Lead for Food for the Hungry in Africa.