While many students and faculty choose to rest and spend time with family during break, four faculty, four students and one community friend chose to participate in the AACC Pearl of Africa Uganda Winter Program.
The NC State group, led by Dr. James Kiwanuka-Tondo, Associate Professor of Communication and Dr. Sheila Smith McKoy, Associate Professor of English and Director of African American Cultural Center as well as Africana Studies, visited Maama Watali Public Library in Luwero town to meet with local citizens. The meeting served as a way to gain understanding from community members about their experiences during the war of 1980-1986. The research group hopes to document these experiences as well as understand the needs of the women and youth in the Luwero Region regarding agriculture, health and gender issues.
Later that day, the group met with representatives from the Pediatrics Department and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Makerere University, to discuss the need for research collaboration and student exchange program.
The following day, the group met with members of the U.S. Embassy in Kampala to discuss funding the Maama Watali project. Fifty textbooks were donated to Mutesa I Royal University to add to the donation by NC State last year.
On the same day, The Aids Support Organization (TASO) hosted the group and members sang songs and gave testimonies about living positively with HIV/AIDS. Dr. Kiwanuka-Tondo says, “The most important lesson for our group was the strategies that TASO and this music group are using to combat HIV/AIDS stigma. The other lesson was
how the people living positively with HIV/AIDS and their families are supporting each other instead of abandoning each other. The enthusiasm, determination, and dedication to TASO were contagious. Our group left this group with a deeper understanding of what it means to live with HIV/AIDS and how to reduce the stigma.”
During the group’s last day, the group met with an engineer and graduate student at Makerere University, Winnie Onziru, who has devised a more efficient way for salt harvesters in fishing villages to reduce risks to their health. She is seeking a collaborative research partner at NC State.