Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Negative People in Development

Working in the field of development is a tiresome and demandingly difficult field where being flexible, understanding and driven is key to success. I love working here in Uganda, my job and the people I work with on a daily basis at the Youth Center and in the community. However, there are people here who do not love their jobs and it shows. Now, I'm not saying that working here is all sunshine and rainbows for me - I definitely get frustrated and try not to take it out on local people I work with or deal with day to day, but I know I'm not perfect. Nonetheless, it is disturbing to me when I hear Americans overtly and extremely rude to Ugandans. For example, I was in an expensive craft shop a couple of weeks ago which closed at 7:00pm. They shut and locked their doors at 6:54pm and let the shoppers inside proceed to finish their shopping. A short burley man gruffly came to the door and started banging on it. Now the door was glass and you could see his facial expressions right through the door and they were nothing but frustration and disgust. When the lady went to open the door for him and explain to him that they were closing he proceeded to barge right in the store yelling at her that she closed the doors early. She proceeded to meekly say he could shop for six minuets. I was watching this interaction intently when I noticed that he was wearing a USAID polo which stated which program he worked for and his position. I was appalled that an American in development work representing our country and tax payers was behaving in such a way. Though he proceeded to out due himself with his next remark. Upon telling the store attendant loudly that he could shop in six minuets he said: "You do want my money right? This is still Africa right? That's all you guys want." I was disgusted and embarrassed to be an American. What makes this situation worse to me is that USAID basically just throws money at a country and hopes it works - now I wouldn't say that about all USAID workers or programs do this and a lot of them do great things, but for the most part they are a money house which receives on average much of the overseas funding compared to the other organizations present in government funded development. If he thinks Africans are just money hungry a) he shouldn't work for an organization who funds and gives handouts on a regular basis and b) shouldn't be working here! Africans or more specifically Ugandans are amazingly friendly, kind and impoverished people with a President who is not supportive and corrupt. The Ugandans I know are driven and want to make a better life for themselves and their families - they are not money hungry and corrupt (though I know they are out there, but aren't some people like that everywhere?). I hope someday this man understands how he made the attendant feel as she was visibly upset and he doesn't treat people like that on a regular basis. I also hope people who read this think twice about how they speak to host country nationals because I know this situation made me take a good look at myself.

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