This is an incredible piece and I’m most certainly sharing it in spaces where I know people need to be challenged with the discussion you’ve presented. I helped co-found an NGO in Jinja at the age of 23 right out of undergraduate studies for social work…Fairly early on and even more so NOW that I have entered back into the Non-profit/social work field in America, I can’t stress enough how crazy it is that people funded and got behind two twenty-somethings from America with nowhere near enough knowledge or experience o launch a successful international development endeavor. For too long I was quick to justify the work I was involved with only to look critically at those less informed and less qualified than I. Because pointing out the white savior in my brother or sister is so much easier than sitting and wrestling with the white savior in me. But really, what it boils down to is privilege and entitlement as you so clearly lay out in this article. I started to ask myself, “if I were to try and start a similar project in the inner city of Philadelphia at 23 years old with very minimal exposure to non-profit work and only a Bachelor’s degree, would people actually take me seriously and fund it?” And the answer is almost certainly NO. Because good intentions are seen as “good enough” for Uganda and even Africa at large. That there is very clearly a lower standard set for development work being done in African communities. People will accept things and even ENCOURAGE things that they would be quick to challenge if it were being done in their own back yard. My exposure is mainly to the development/”missionary” work in Jinja and the very clear racist and imperialistic themes are enough to make you want to scream and run in the other direction. But you are not, and I can’t commend you enough for sticking it out in the field you are in. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be but your voice and your presence can and will be the avenue in which long-term and systemic change can be introduced. That is my hope and prayer. Thank you for being bold and unapologetic while having these conversations. Us white folks need to be made uncomfortable make often 😉
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