Boda bodas, education and slow internet

So, the second week in Kampala. Time sure is subjective, and while it has only been 10 days I feel right at home by now.

I have been very lucky to meet people with similar interests and purpose here in Kampala. I spend my days studying with Sara, a student in global development from Stockholm University, and Dory, a child psychologist from Holland. Having people around you that are motivated and focused on their work is both inspiring and supportive. We spend our days at cafés writing and reading up on our respective field, sharing ideas and thoughts. In the evening we meet up with other students, both from Kampala and abroad, NGO´s workers, expats and travelers for drinks and share stories.

I have met with my person of contact, Dr. Peter Ssenkusu from The School of Education at Makerere University.  We had a meeting on my porch the other day, and talked about how I should proceed with my field study. Peter also gave me a tour of the Makerere University´s campus and the office of lecturers of the education department. The campus  houses thousands of students and is located on top of one of Kampalas hills. The students live in various setting depending on economic background, ranging from modern apartment buildings to small huts. Some of the staff, such as maintenance, shop owners and teachers, live in the outskirts of campus as well.

The main building of Makerere University, where the dean and other officials has got their offices.

The entrance to The School of Education, located on Makerere campus.

I love the sign of the department of Science and Biology. Imagine training mushrooms!

I have also “grabbed the bull by its horns” and started getting around on the boda bodas. The name of the motorcycle taxis originated from the border between Uganda and Rwanda, where the drivers would yell out “border-to-border” for customers looking to cross over. The boda bodas are everywhere around Kampala, hanging out in the shadows of trees in intersections, waiting around for potential costumers. Even though I have been on plenty motorcycles in South East Asia, I have been reluctant to get on the back of one here. The traffic is like nothing I have experienced, and seeing drivers criss-cross their way through thousands of trucks and cars is nerve wrecking. However, there is an alternative to getting a near-death experience every time you leave home! A fairly new company called Safe boda offers rides at a fixed price (nice to not have to bargain every single time you go somewhere), and as the name implies, they are safer than your regular driver. All the drivers are trained in CPR, you get a helmet (with a very cute hairnet to protect you from lice) and they do actually stop at the red light. Plus, you can rate your driver through an app.


“If you can reach your back with your hand, you are old enough for school”

This quote is from Isaac, one of the Kampala born guests I met at a bonfire a couple nights ago. We had a long talk about how education is constructed and developed in Uganda, as well as how a former student perceive it, in hindsight. According to Isaac, there is no specific age where you start school, but it is rather a measure of your body. This goes for your bus fare as well. Physical punishment is still a common occurrence – Isaac gave a bitter recap of his experiences in the classroom. If he were to talk out loud, whisper with his friends, or even give the wrong answer, he would get slapped across his cheeks or in the back of his head. Tales of abuse is common, with other Ugandans nodding in recognition of his stories. Further, the topic of corruption within education was discussed. Western countries are eager to give scholarships to developing countries, however, there is seldom any check up of how the receiving country distribute said scholarships. This has, according to Isaac, resulted in government officials selling scholarships to the highest bidder, or neighbouring countries. Thus, the knowledge gained in studies is rarely of benefit to the country it was intended for.

On a brighter note, this weekend I have been invited to a big birthday party. Ugandans are big on partying – on my block, which is considered a fairly quiet area, there are parties until 4 am several nights a week – so I am really looking forward to Friday night. There is a saying that in Kampala the weekend stretches from Thursday until Monday, but I am certain it  includes Tuesday and Wednesday as well. Saturday will be spent studying most likely, but I might go downtown to check out the second hand shops. There are several outlets that import luxury brands from Western countries and sell them by the kilo. Sunday will be spent with Sara and Dory by the pool at the Sheraton, reading up on Ugandan history and working on my tan. For those interested in movie trivia, the Sheraton pool area is seen in the movie Last king of Scotland. The pool area is one of the places where Idi Amin used to host extravagant parties, excluded from the terror ravaging the country.

I will finish this post with one last picture – showing the impact slow internet and an over-heated laptop has got on a Swede used to fiber and air con.

First week in Kampala

I thought I would dedicate this first post of mine to share my first impressions of the city and what I have been experiencing so far!

My first week in Kampala have been dedicated to getting to know the city, but more than anything I’ve been resting. I’ve been experiencing a lot of side-effects from all different vaccines I’ve taken, fatigue, fever, chills, an upset stomach – you name it, I’ve had it. However, I am slowly getting better, the weather really does wonders for a tired body.


I am staying in a very lively part of the city, next to the newly built Acacia mall. The traffic is absolutely crazy, boda bodas (motorcycle taxis), bicycles, street vendors, buses and cars are all constricted to streets built for a population a tenth of the current number.

From what I have seen so far Kampala is a very clean city, there is very little trash on the side of road, and on every corner there is someone tidying up, picking trash. Another thing that stands out from places I have visited in the past is the high level of security. Armed security is on every corner, and metal detectors welcome you in to shops and restaurants. However, the semi-automatic guns are in stark contrast with the warm greetings you get from the guards. Most of them welcome you with a warm smile and are quick to small talk while they search your bag.

View from on top of Acacia mall. Thunder and rain  minutes away.

The cottage I am staying in is a simple place, with a lush garden surrounding it. There is no hot water, air conditioning or fans, but I absolutely love it. Plus, skipping the air con might get me used to the humid climate faster! Cause wow, it is a humid place. My neighbour, an Ugandan woman with a 10-months old, Swedish (!) born girl, have told me about how the weather in Uganda has been changing since she was younger. Climate change have shifted the seasons, and what used to be the dry season is now humid months, with rain falling every other day.

The view from Pearl of Africa, an over-the-top hotel, with marble floor and golden chairs. Perfect spot for watching the sunset and see how the rich and famous are spending their vacation in Kampala.

Lastly, I have yet to meet with my person of contact due to illness and change of plans for both of us. Hopefully we will be able to meet up this weekend to discuss the field study. I have also  been invited for dinner with my hosts, Sandra and Andrew. They own several airbnbs in Kampala, and hosts dinners for guests on their rooftop every Sunday.


Home again!

How time just flies away…

After just about two months in Indonesia, we’re now home in cold Sweden! Of course it was nice meeting family and friends again, but we both agree on the fact that we would love to have stayed longer.

So what did we do our last week in Bali? We lived! We went to Gili Trawangan to spend New Years Eve and Emmas birthday there. It’s this amazing island where the water is beautifully blue and it’s truly astonishing… When there is good wheather. We had pretty okay wheather the two first days, just a little cloudy. Then it started to rain, and wow it really rained. The streets were practically flooded in the evenings, but that was fun too! The day we were leaving, the sun decided to show up! So here’s a glimpse of the beauty of Gili T! (And us)

last day at Gili T

The day after we left Gili T, we had to head home. We went to the airport and after 16 hours in air, we landed and felt the cold scandinavian air. The next couple of days we finished off our essay and sent it in.

We’ve had the most amazing time in Indonesia and we’ve met so many wonderful people making the experience even better. The study has been so rewarding and educating in ways we couldn’t have imagined. We must thank Malmö University and SIDA for making this possible. We are so grateful! And thanks to Bali for giving us memories for a life time!

One of the amazing sunsets we witnessed with newly found friends

Thank you and good bye for now!

Emma and Aron.

Last day in Mumbai

With mixed feelings it is time for me to leave Mumbai. I have been here for almost a year including my 5 months internship with Vacha, travel and now the 10 weeks of MFS. So I have quite made myself a second home here.

As a last event with Men Against Violenca and Abuse (MAVA) I was invited to come to their arranged film fest in Goa called Sambhav, meaning possibility in Hindi. The fest is a two-day film festival on gender, masculinity, sexuality and relationships in 8 cities and 4 districts.

Attending the first day of the festival was the Swedish ambassador in Mumbai, Ulrika Sundberg. I had the pleasure of talking and discussing with her on some of the topics above.

Swedish Ambassador Mumbai India – Ulrika Sundberg

A few documentaries and short film that was screened included:


And of course the documentary that has been made on MAVAs work.

If you live in Sweden the documentary is available to stream here:

Now it is time for me to finish up packing and later tonight catch the flight back home to Malmö!

India, don’t you worry (well I know you have more important things to worry about but..)!
I will be back sooner than you know!


Karibu Zanzibar!

After the Safari we headed straight to Zanzibar to have some sun, salty winds and some relax before going back to Sweden and the winter… We started out in the main city – Stone Town. It is such a nice little town just by the sea! A labyrinth of small streets between high buildings with the most beautiful doors! We celebrated the new year in Stone Town and then headed to the beaches on the east side – Paje and Jambiani 🙂 Beautiful! Oskar spent his last days with us before heading back to Sweden.

After some last editing we have now sent the essay in! 

Chakula nzuri sana at Forodhani foodmarket in Stone Town
Spice tour!
Lipstick fruit
Happy new year!
Sandbank outside Stone Town
We joined a local fisherman for a sailtrip!

Jamhuri Day, 12th December, is the celebration of Kenya becoming a republic 1,5 years after independence from the British Colony in the 60’s. As of this day in December most/or a lot of working people go on annual leave for Christmas and New Years. It would have been difficult to arrange more interviews etc during this time, however some CGO’s were still working and I was invited to a two day conference/meeting at Friends of Lake Turkana regarding organizing communities. There was an organisation from Peru who were invited to present their work they have done with a similar situation as the one we are experiencing here in Turkana. Their work and results were impressive and hopefully in the future we will see the same strength and work in this region.

Before I attended the meeting and conference at Friends of Lake Turkana, I had had to take a short trip down to Nairobi to sort out my visa, to extend the length of it to be allowed to stay in the country. When I applied for my visa online, I applied for a tourist visa for 10 weeks, and 24h after application it was approved. When I arrived at the airport, the person at the boarder only granted me 4 weeks and said I had to come back down to Nairobi to reapply for an extension of my visa. I was told by my contacts at the organisations that this process would take at least a whole day, so I prepared two full days in Nairobi for this. When I went to the migrations office, I was informed that this is a common procedure for students as there are many occasions where students apply for visa in Kenya because its easier, and then disappear into Ethiopia or Somalia. The extension is to make sure that those applying for the visa is actually staying in the country. Once I arrived at the migration centre it did not take more than 20 minutes for me to get my visa renewed, which left me with two amazing days to spend in Nairobi.

After the conference at Friends of Lake Turkana I ended my stay in Turkana for December and flew down to Nairobi again as there was nothing left for me to do up here. I spent a week in Nairobi working on writing on my project and transcribing some interviews before heading down to the coast to celebrate Christmas and New Years.

I am now back up in Turkana doing my last interviews and I will finally get an interview with the oil company and county government officials. When I have finished here I am moving further south to meet with the environment institution NEMA and Kenya Land Alliance in Nakuru and Nairobi.

Some obstacles and change of submission date

Happy new year everyone!
I seem to be following this trend of delayed updates, but life here takes way too much of my attention.

Even though I was told that going abroad for MFS will not always be as smooth as you want it to be, it is rather more likely that the opposite happens, I am a little disappointed on how slow the work has turned out to be. There have been times where the stress got hold of me with a strong feeling I don’t have enough time to finish it.
Due to different things, almost already from start, difficulties arranging interviews, delays in getting the interviews translated and transcribed, holidays and being sick I have decided to submit my study on a later date in March instead of next week. This decision I made together with my supervisor. She believed that I should give my study the time it needs rather than try to hurry up just for the sake of submitting.
This certainly gave me some peace of mind and I have been able to systematically go through the material. This is my last week in Mumbai. I will try to get some final questions answered from MAVA before I leave. Meet with my translator and some other people I have been in contact with for this study as it is easier while here rather than back in Malmö

I also took some time off to travel for the new years weekend to the countryside outside Pune. The landscape was amazingly beautiful and the sky was clear and full of stars at night. A peaceful New Year’s Eve without the hazzle of fancy dinner and fireworks. The Indian countryside is something completely else from the intense city of Mumbai and it was wonderful to get a break.


Safari nzuri sana!

Hi everyone! Sorry for the late update AGAIN…we are not good at doing this blog-thing cause there is happening things all the time here in Tanzania, and you get pretty frustrated with the internet from time to time…

Anyway! We’ve been at a Safari in Mikumi. It was wonderful! Two whole days with driving around in the national park with lions, zebras, hippos, elephants and so on and so on <3 We’ve been enjoying ourselves like crazy!

The four of us had a good Christmas and an awesome safari!

We have sent our essay to some friends that will read it and tell us what more we can do so we can feel that we did our very best before handing it in 🙂 Wish us good luck!