(Originally posted on Sept. 29, 2014)
Aside from my classes, a significant amount of my time and energy has been directed towards my internship since we returned from Rwanda. I am interning at the organization ROTOM (Reach One Touch One Ministries). This organization seeks to provide care, friendship, hope and support to the disadvantaged elderly in Uganda. I have been going two days each week (7-8 hrs each day to meet my requirement of 150 hrs). Here is the link to ROTOM’s website if you are interested in learning more about this organization http://reachone-touchone.org/
Week #1 involved a bit of orientation to the organization as well as the various programs/services provided by ROTOM. I went with four ROTOM staff members out to the field the first day to observe senior fellowship groups. These groups provide the seniors with the opportunity to gather with other seniors from their village to sing, dance, praise God and pray/support/encourage one another. In luganda jaja means grandparent which is used to communicate respect to an older individual and is the term we use to communicate with the seniors. After my first day I was very unsure of my role at ROTOM, and which program I would be involved in. In Uganda you just jump right into practical work without receiving a significant amount of clear direction or instruction, which can be a bit frustrating to work with. The next day I stayed at the office and typed up presentation notes on relationships and tagged along on a school to one of the ROTOM champions. This is a program that provides care, support and encouragement to grandchildren of ROTOM sponsored seniors. Theses champions, currently about 20 granddaughters, are dependent on a jaja for their basic needs to be met mainly due to being orphaned.
Week#2-3 I was in the field both days each week, observing home visits in rural areas in and around Mukono. Jaja from the fellowship groups are visited in their homes for about three weeks each month. On these home visits ROTOM is evaluating/monitoring health and hygiene, Christian growth/spiritual involvement and food/income security. Home visits are a large part of my internship/practical experience. I am learning quite a bit through observation, asking questions of the jaja’s and staff to understand needs as well as environmental factors preventing jaja from being able to live dignified and fulfilled lives.
I am beginning my fourth week this week and I will probably continue to be actively involved with home visits. Please keep praying that I will be open and flexible to engage and learn from the jaja and staff I am interacting with. The language barrier is very evident and frustrating in working with jaja from rural areas, so I would ask that you also pray for patience. Most often one of the staff members will generally translate for me but it can be frustrating to be completely out of the loop at times and I am unable to connect on a deeper level with the jaja’s. Thanks for your continual prayers and interest!