Above: Amanda visits a local primary school in Buwikwe, Uganda. Many of the children attending the school are supported through INA's ChildLink program.
seeing INA's work on the ground gave me the courage to press on
Amanda Croucher-Southwell joined INA as Community Engagement Manager in 2016 with a head full of knowledge and a passion to change the world.
A trip to Uganda earlier this year to see the work on the ground, however, moved her beyond what she could imagine. A couple of months later, here are her reflections on what she encountered.
I left an employee; I returned a supporter
Having been immersed in Aid and Development through years of work and study, I prepared for a journey to Uganda with few concerns, save mosquitoes and possibly forgetting my passport. I assumed I would spend my time taking photos and ensuring our new ambassador, Missy Lancaster, drank clean water and saw the INA projects with an objective and detailed eye.
Perhaps I should have done more homework, but, in retrospect, there was really nothing that could have prepared me. The people I met, those who are benefitting from our work on the ground, were nothing short of inspirational. Yet so many haven’t been reached by our work, and I wish we could do more.
I hugged grandmothers who have persevered with HIV/AIDS, and met bright young girls whose future is uncertain, soon be removed from school to enter an early marriage.
I was bombarded at lunch-time by ChildLink children with full bellies, and sat laughing and smiling with mothers grateful for IN Uganda’s health clinic on inoculations day.
I pumped clean water from a well provided to one fortunate village, then, the next day, walked kilometres with girls in another village to gather contaminated water, because they had no other option.
For fourteen hours I joined hungry community children, learning English outside without classrooms or trained teachers, and watched as they cooked a solitary potato for dinner.
As a mother, I cried meeting a primary-aged girl sitting in the dirt, removed from school so she could spend every day with her ailing grandmother and HIV infected father.
Finally, I danced (poorly, I might add) with widowed women who were ecstatic they could now provide their families with three meals a day and an education, after being part of INA’s Income Enhancement for Subsistence Farmers program.
I was astounded at the work we were doing, and yes, frustrated that we couldn’t do more. As I left I thanked God for the country and its services I was coming home to, for the schools my children are able to attend, and for the incredible work being done by committed organisations like INA, who I am so proud to be a part of.
I saw first-hand the differences between the lives of those supported by INA, and those unable to be.
I went to Uganda as an employee; now I am a supporter. I know my new monthly SHE pledge is doing its work, and all I can do now is to encourage others to support INA also, and commit themselves to changing the world.
Children at a school where many ChildLink children attend
Missy Lancaster plays with children at a local school.
Ugandan women dancing for joy that they are able to now, with assistance from INA, provide for their families.