Ugandan Special Carpentry

Posted: 13th März 2011 by Bellusci in Miscellaneous

Surely everyone has in their lives “knocked something together” for the sole purpose of assembling something with a practical goal for quick usage, without paying particular importance to the quality or execution of the work, like a shelf for the workshop. Read the rest of this entry »

Ugandische Zimmererarbeit

Posted: 13th März 2011 by Bellusci in Daily Life/ Alltag

Jeder hat sicherlich irgendwann in seinem/ ihrem Leben irgendetwas “zusammengezimmert”, das heisst etwas schnell zusammenbaut, mit dem Ziel einen praktischen Nutzen zu erzielen, ohne besonderen Wert auf die Qualitaet der Ausfuehrung der Arbeit zu legen, wie ein Regal fuer die Werkstatt. Read the rest of this entry »

Elections in Uganda

Posted: 25th Februar 2011 by Bellusci in Miscellaneous

The elections and the possibility of riots were not only worrying for expatriates but also many Ugandans. Most of my expatriate-friends left the country for holidays to nearby destinations such as Zanzibar or Kenya, or even left for their home countries. Their houses were firmly locked, security was increased and away they went. Many offices decided to close for a period of two weeks during the elections and Ugandans who could escape from Kampala went to their villages to stay with their friends and families. Read the rest of this entry »

Wahlen in Uganda

Posted: 25th Februar 2011 by Bellusci in Verschiedenes

Vor den Wahlen und eventuellen Unruhen hatten nicht nur wir Expatriates ziemlich grosse Angst gehabt: Die meisten meiner Expatriat-Freunde haben das Land letzte oder vorletzte Woche verlassen und urlauben in Zansibar, Kenia oder Deutschland; die Haeuser fest abgeschlossen, Sicherheitskraefte erhoeht und weg. Viele Bueros haben einfach mal fuer zwei Wochen geschlossen und Ugander, wer nur irgendwie konnte, hat Kampala den Ruecken gekehrt und verbringt seine Zeit bei seiner Familie im Dorf. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t say anything, go with the flow

Posted: 28th Januar 2011 by Bellusci in Challenges

I often hear from (ex-) colleagues, friends and acquaintances some unbelievable stories about their work and daily life but when I ask whether they mind if I describe and publish these episodes in my blog (anonymously of course), or offer to write an article on their behalf, they normally refuse.

However, a few pieces in my blog, although published under my name, are not actually mine but from colleagues (the articles are still in German only and not translated):

I cannot give any names and must omit any reference to the source. I also have to rewrite the articles so that it looks like my own writing style. People don’t want to be recognised, which always seemed a little bizarre until I found out the hard way why this should be…

This morning I had a visit from a close friend who reflected critically on certain articles in my blog and commented that the content wasn’t specific enough and that the real issues were dodged to some degree.

I must admit that this is fair comment, but I am in a dilemma. I cannot write anything concrete because it would mean having to publish names, addresses, et cetera, and without permission from those concerned I cannot add the credence to my articles that I would like. Most people don’t even want their stories told even if I have offered to write them anonymously from their perspective. On the occasions that I do succeed to get permission then usually I have to generalise and write about “an organisation” somewhere in a “town/village in Uganda” participating in some un-named “international project” and this is naturally less believable to the reader. I have to be careful not to compromise the identity of the project or person.

This is not because of any restrictive laws in Uganda. On the contrary, one is allowed to publish freely here so long as it doesn’t compromise Uganda or its leaders. The newspapers are full of critical articles about Uganda’s internal affairs.

The reason for self-censoring is more to do with the people involved in the stories and their worry and fear about keeping their jobs in the development organisations, plus the generally accepted taboo which precludes internal criticism of the impact/outcome of international development projects.

My friend says that he/she would like to write critical essays about development aid because too many of the situations happening here are simply outrageous but cannot through fear of his/her partner losing employment. In addition, my friends signed before coming to Uganda that no internal information should be shared with the general public.

What is internal information exactly? How far does it stretch? Are people right to be afraid or are they just paranoid?

What further consequences may I face when I write about my own affairs and mention that I have raised a court case against my assignment organisation in Germany? Am I actually allowed to write further that my assignment organisation told me more than once that they are not in Uganda to fight corruption but for development assistance and that it doesn’t concern them if their money (the taxpayers’ money) is being wasted because of corruption, so long as they have an apparently successful project in their portfolio to feel good about and thereby justify their value/worth to their home country?

What type of incidents am I allowed to describe? Above all, I ask myself how much support will I get and from whom?

I filed a court case in Germany against my assignment organisation and I now personally know of at least six people who have lost their jobs under similar circumstances; they worked for the same organisation, in the same project. They were either sacked by the assignment organisation before their employment contracts expired or they chose to hand in their notice and leave prematurely. All six of them are now watching my case with interest, because I am the first who has dared to go to court in Germany. All six of them expressed that they “regret” not having done this themselves.

However, my lawyer asked me to provide a few witnesses to support my case and from the six people mentioned who experienced similar ‘betrayals’, only one has agreed to be a witness. Thank you to that person!

Since 1977 (!) there has not been a single similar case before the German courts. The case is very political; it is about German taxpayers’ money being wasted via corruption and poor management in a development project. The head quarters of this development organisation prefer to turn a blind eye to it and ultimately also to the rights of the development workers who have highlighted the problems and reported them back to the development organisation.

Being a German citizen assigned by a German development organisation to work in a project abroad, a problem of this magnitude arose, completely not of my making. I found suddenly that German employment laws were not applicable to help me, and neither were the Ugandan laws. I have no protection and no rights whatsoever despite the fact that I have been employed by a German organisation, which is itself, subject to German laws.

My case is proving to be somewhat of a precedent before the German courts, although I am aware that my situation is not unique. After more than 6 months of searching I eventually found a lawyer who is ready to run with the case and if necessary, up to the Federal Constitutional Court. Lawyers in Germany normally don’t like to burn their fingers or reputations on political cases.

In view of that people are right to be afraid and they are not just paranoid.

It is therefore no miracle that I have lost the desire in the last few months to continue writing about development assistance and to some degree my blog has become quieter. It is simply no fun to write about personal challenges and problems within the development world, to discuss problems which most of the expatriates experience, but not to be allowed to mention the real things. It all sounds absurd and I have to say is also absolutely scary. Somehow I have found myself in a Don Quixote situation.

Don’t say anything, go with the flow, bury your head in the sand and don’t even attempt to change things in your development project for the better. Just write nice sounding reports how successful your project is! Close your eyes and ears and if you are able to comply with these measures then your career will be a good one.

However, this morning’s visit by my friend has given me encouragement to continue. I will take his/her advice and consider remarks in our conversations in my articles. My friend confirmed that my blog is read by various people in the expatriate community, that they discuss the topics and it makes them think. Therefore I will start writing again and continue discussing the challenges of development assistance.

Ich hoere hier von (Ex-)Kollegen, Freunden und Bekannten viele unglaubliche Geschichten aus dem Alltag und Arbeit, und manchmal frage ich an, ob ich eine bestimmte Geschichte in meinem Blog veroeffentlichen darf (selbstverstaendlich anonymisiert) oder, ob sie denn vielleicht nicht sogar selbst einen Artikel fuer meinen Blog schreiben moechten.

Einige wenige meiner bisherigen Artikel, auch wenn unter meinem Namen veroeffentlicht, sind eigentlich von Kollegen, wie beispielsweise:

Namen darf ich keine nennen und ich muss jeglichen Bezug rausnehmen, der in irgendeiner Weise auf die Quelle hinweist. Und ich muss auch die Artikel so umschreiben, dass es schliesslich wie mein Schreibstil aussieht.

Heute morgen hatte ich Besuch von einer engen Freundin (deren Namen, Nationalitaet und Job ich natuerlich hier nicht nennen darf – ich bin gerade am ueberlegen, ob die Nennung vom Geschlecht bereits zu viel ist?) und sie hat freundschaftlich kritisch zu meinem Blog reflektiert. Sie findet meinen Blog gut, aber leider waeren meine Artikel nicht konkret genug, und vor allem nicht genuegend konkrete Beispiele.

Sie hat natuerlich absolut recht, jedoch bin ich in einem Dilemma. Ich darf nichts konkret schreiben, weil ich dann Namen, Adressen und Telefonnummern mitveroeffentlichen muesste und das will ueberhaupt niemand. Die meisten sind ja schon nicht einmal bereit, dass ich ueberhaupt anonymisiert ueber einen speziellen Vorfall berichte. Falls ich dann doch die Erlaubnis bekomme anonymisiert zu schreiben, dann schreibe ich einen Artikel ueber “eine Organisation” in einer “Stadt in Uganda” in einem “internationalen Projekt”, und das ist natuerlich ueberhaupt nicht konkret. Ich muss jeglichen Bezug herausnehmen, der nur irgendwie Rueckschluesse auf das Projekt oder Person zulassen koennte.

Auch meine Freudin wuerde schon ganz gerne ueber EZ schreiben, denn auch sie findet viele der Geschichten einfach unerhoert, aber sie darf nicht. Ihr Mann koennte den Job verlieren. Ausserdem haette sie auch unterschrieben, dass sie keine Interna veroeffentlicht.

Wie weit gehen Interna? Was sind Interna?

Ist die Beschreibung einer Person, die sich beschwert, dass man in Uganda nur schwer kubanische Zigarren zu kaufen bekommt und er sich seine Streichhoelzer aus Kenia importieren lassen muss, um seine Zigarren mit Stil anzuenden zu koennen und daher unter seinem Leben in Uganda leidet, bereits zu viel Interna?

Darf ich darueber schreiben, wegen was ich gegen meine Entsendeorganisation in Deutschland Klage erhoben habe? Darf ich schreiben, dass ich ueberhaupt Klage erhoben habe? Darf ich schreiben, dass meine Entsendeorganisation mir mehr als einmal gesagt hat, dass sie in Uganda nicht zur Korruptionsbekaempfung, sondern fuer Entwicklungshilfe da sei?

Wie konkret darf ich schreiben? Und vor allem beschaeftigt mich die Frage, wieviel Unterstuetzung bekomme ich im Haertefall?

Ich klage in Deutschland gegen meine Entsendeorganisation und ich kenne persoenlich wenigstens 6 Leute, die unter aehnlichen Umstaenden aus der selben Organsiation, und aus dem selben Prohekt, rausgeflogen sind bzw. von selbst das Weite gesucht haben. Alle beobachten meinen Fall mit Spannung, denn ich bin die erste, die in Deutschland dafuer vor Gericht gegangen ist. Alle 6 Leute „bedauern“, dass sie das nicht auch gemacht haben.

Seit 1977 (!) gab es keinen aehnlichen Fall mehr dazu vor den deutschen Gerichten. Und mein Fall ist eigentlich nur ganz entfernt aehnlich. Er ist hochpolitisch, es geht um Verschwendung deutscher Steuergelder, Unterstuetzung von Korruption durch Nichtstun und vor allem um die Frage der Anwendbarkeit deutscher Arbeitsschutzgesetze auf Entwicklungshelfer (Man wird als Deutsche von einer deutschen Organisation ins Ausland entsendet und wenn es dann Probleme mit der Entsendeorganisation gibt, sind deutsche Gesetze nicht anwendbar, aber auch nicht die ugandischen – Ich frage mich, welche dann? – Es ist eigenartigerweise ein Praesendenzfall vor deutschen Gerichten, obwohl ich weiss, dass mein Fall kein Einzelfall ist); und ich habe auch endlich einen (wirklich guten) Rechtsanwalt gefunden, der bereit ist, mit diesem Fall gegebenfalls bis zum Bundesverfassungsgericht zu gehen.

Ausser, dass ich den ganzen Spass persoenlich finanzieren muss, brauchte ich fuer meine zweite Instanz Zeugen. 6 Leute kenne ich persoenlich, die dazu was auszusagen haetten; nur einer hat sich bereit erklaert.

Irgendwie kein Wunder, dass ich in den letzten Monaten irgendwie die Lust verloren habe, ueber Entwicklungsdienst und die persoenlichen Herausforderungen und Probleme darin zu schreiben und es daher in meinem Blog so sehr still geworden ist. Es macht einfach keinen Spass, allein zu sein, obwohl man Probleme auf den Tisch legt und bespricht, die eigentlich die meisten haben.

Ja nichts sagen, immer schoen mitschwimmen, und vor allem, ja nicht auffallen. Das ist hier die Devise.

Mein Gespraech mit meiner Freundin heute morgen hat mir aber wieder Mut gegeben und ihre Bemerkungen zu meinen Artikeln werde ich nun verarbeiten und beruecksichtigen. Sie hat bestaetigt, dass mein Blog gelesen wird, dass Leute zu den Themen diskutieren, und sich damit auseinandersetzen. So werde ich also wohl wieder anfangen, etwas mehr ueber Entwicklungshilfe zu schreiben.

eShop – Arts & Crafts from Uganda

Posted: 25th Januar 2011 by Bellusci in e-shop

Crocodile, carved wood, West-Nile (Nebbi)
30cm, 4.50 €

As a result of some of my posts I am addressed now and then as to whether I can source commodities from Uganda and provide an e-shop with Ugandan arts and crafts products. So far, interest has been expressed to me particularly in jewellery items, decorative articles, bags and toys.

Calabush Shakers-middle size

Calabush Shakers
ca. 20 cm
3.80 €

Therefore, I have in the last few months visited many local markets and crafts enterprises to give me a better impression of the overall picture. Uganda is developing rapidly and new, beautiful and interesting products are constantly appearing. However, the buyer must be conscious that most (nearly all) manufacturers are either individuals or very tiny groups within village communities, and nearly always women.

Once the children and family are cared for (family is more important than anything else in Ugandan society) and the vegetable gardens tended, then thoughts may be focused on producing something that can be sold. However, the whole concept of money is fairly new to some Ugandans especially to those living deep in the villages. Many of the communities still exist on the traditional barter method of existence. Although money is needed in the more developed areas (e.g. for school fees) it does not seem to be a motivating factor when it comes to producing items in great quantities or with good quality for sale.


Paper beads necklaces
ca. 60 cm
3.50 €

This means that when I do find something beautiful made to a good standard I photograph it to send to potential customers who then tend to order in small numbers, perhaps 10 or 20 pieces at a time. I then speak with the appropriate crafts group and place an order with them. Even with these small quantities it is not unusual that problems do arise when the group then submits perhaps only half of the order on time and then maybe to a lesser quality than I was originally shown, meaning I have to reject some of the items what they have produced for me. To this they then plead, “We put so much effort into these products that you have to take them all..!”

All of the products shown on this site are hand-made in Uganda (or in one of the neighbouring East African countries), thus, all are goods from African developing markets. I will always give my best to supply in the ordered quantities and to European standards, but I must reserve the fact that sometimes I may be unable to supply the desired quantity of a certain product and therefore have to seek substitutes from other groups.

Certain products change in appearance on a regular basis; for example, paper beads depend upon the colours of the magazines which are shredded to make them and as so many people in so many groups are involved, the shapes, colours and sizes of the beads vary. Another example is decorative items made from wire and beer bottle caps, where there are fewer suppliers and larger problems in obtaining the required quantities. I will refund immediately any money or offer substitutes should problems arise with a given order.


Necklace, Shells from Lake Victoria
ca. 65 cm
5.80 €

I will indicate also in the descriptions on my e-shop whether a product can be supplied more or less reliably.

Should there be problems with the execution of an order, I always communicate immediately by email and enquire whether a substitute is acceptable or whether the buyer would like a refund. Some of the goods can be posted immediately since they are produced in sufficient quantities. With other articles, sometimes I have to place an order with the producer and then wait patiently until the delivery arrives in Kampala.

I apologise for all the caveats and hope that it does not put-off potential buyers too much, because I am of the opinion that it is enormously important for the development of this country that the local craftsmen can sell their products and create a worldwide market for them. From this perspective, I hope that all buyers will understand the challenges faced by the craftsmen and women and also for me in negotiating with them to deliver quality products every time.

Orders can be submitted on-line using the Shopping Cart, and/or by email. I have access to a substantial number of products, and it will take time to load them all on this blog.

If you are interested in any of the advertised products then by all means enquire by email first before placing an order. The list of goods is constantly growing and to it are added regularly more and more unique articles.

Pictures, ca. 10x15 cm
Russian Icon technique combined African motives
9.50 €

I deal directly with the Ugandan producers without using brokers or middlemen. The calculated prices shown are therefore solely the costs of production plus my profit margin so that it is worthwhile for me to promote Ugandan crafts, deal with the producers, advertise the items on-line and process/post the orders, et cetera.

Since I cannot guarantee at all that a product matches a published picture 100%, I am not selling individual items. This e-shop is intended for dealers only. The minimum orders should be 100 articles in total at a time; the order per individual product 10 items.


Necklace from coconut
ca. 80 cm
5.80 €

With each order, I will include free samples of different items (one item per 100 € order). If you have certain preferences please let me know, otherwise I will attach free samples of my own choosing which I think may be of interest.

Concerning dispatch, at present I use EMS (an international courier service), which supplies parcels within 5 to 7 working days everywhere in the world. If the e-shop develops well, I will certainly negotiate with other logistics companies to reduce postage prices dependant upon delivery location, and can also perhaps consider arranging shipping containers if customers wish to buy in much larger quantities.

Many thanks for your time and in advance to any of you who wish to place an order, particularly on behalf of all of the Ugandan producers, to whom your orders provide a life-line. In some small way this e-shop will support Uganda and reduce on the need for development assistance funds, which rarely reach the people they are intended to help.

If anyone has any questions or opinions or would like a testimonial from existing customers, then I will gladly pass on email contacts for your assurance. To conclude, I would appreciate any comments from prospective and existing customers on this blog, since I understand that transacting business with one of the poorest countries in the world can be a barrier to buyer confidence.

Important note: At this moment this e-shop trading platform is still in testing mode and I will need a few days before it is presentable and furnished with the products available to purchase. Orders are therefore to be made only by email. Hopefully, at the beginning of February everything should be running smoothly.

eShop – Kunsthandwerk aus Uganda

Posted: 24th Januar 2011 by Bellusci in Economy/ Wirtschaft

Krokodil, Holz geschnitzt, West-Nile (Nebbi), 30cm, 4.80 €

Aufgrund einiger meiner Artikel werde ich hin und wieder von Verkaeufern angesprochen, ob ich Ware aus Uganda liefern kann und auch, ob ich nicht einen eShop mit ugandischen Kunsthandwerksprodukten einrichten koenne, um Bestellungen einfacher zu machen und vor allem werden immer wieder Bilder und detaillierte Beschreibungen bestimmter Produkte angefragt.

Soweit bestand Interesse vor allem an Schmuck, Dekorationsartikeln, Taschen und Spielzeug.

Rasseln aus Calabush,
ca. 20 cm, 3.70 €

So war ich also in den letzten Monaten viel unterwegs auf lokalen Maerkten, habe mich umgeschaut und auch einige der Handwerksbetriebe besucht, um mir einen Eindruck zu verschaffen. Read the rest of this entry »

Football Mania

Posted: 2nd Januar 2011 by Bellusci in Miscellaneous

There is hardly a Ugandan male who is not fanatical about the English Premiership. Arsenal is the most popular team closely followed by Manchester United, and then smaller support for teams like Chelsea and Liverpool. Many, many of the local mini-bus and motorcycle taxis are adorned with the clubs’ logos or team names splashed across the windscreen sun-shield vinyls, let alone the number of people walking the streets in replica shirts (mostly Chinese fakes). This is not a Ugandan phenomenon either; I am told that the boda-boda stage (for motorcycle taxis) outside AIG’s office in Nairobi (the previous Manchester United shirt sponsors) was simply known by everyone as ‘Man U’. If you wanted to get to AIG’s office, one simply had to ask to go to Man U. However, it is amusing that not many of the Ugandans I have asked actually know where England is or that England is in Europe or even where Europe is.

Arsenal is apparently the most popular team simply because of its recent history of fielding more African players than any other team. As I mentioned, club logos are seen everywhere from buildings to vehicles and in most cases have been carefully painted by hand. A lot of time and effort goes into parading support for a football team they are only ever likely to watch on TV and which plays football in a country that they are never likely to visit.

In Uganda, English football games are broadcasted via the South African satellite service, DSTV, via their Super Sports channels. These live feeds are also watched by radio stations who then give commentaries in the local Lugandan language only. On a Saturday afternoon, up to three games are shown simultaneously, whereas in England it is not possible to watch a 15.00 hrs kick-off at all. Therefore for my (English) husband, Uganda, apart from the constantly beautiful weather, is simply a football paradise. If you support Arsenal or Manchester United especially, then you have live TV access to literally every game they play and in whichever competition they are playing in.

Ugandan league games are seldom shown even on the local UBC (Uganda Broadcasting Company) networks, but there is intense support for the national team, which is currently managed by a Scotsman. If the national side is playing an international match not too far away from home, there is a tribal away support that travels to watch the game. Recently, Uganda played Kenya in Nairobi and the border was absolutely clogged for a couple of days with people trying to get into Kenya.

If a game is on, the pubs are full with fans that mostly buy a soft drink and then hold onto it for 90 minutes. Ugandans prefer to sit and watch games and seats in pubs will be arranged in orderly lines like in a cinema. A loud roar thunders through Kampala when one of the favorite teams scores. There is actually no real need to watch a game or look up the results in the Internet as by simply sitting in my garden I can count the number of roars (goals) in a game. Arsenal is definitely the loudest. Depending on which team wins, ‘the Losers’ leave the pubs quite quickly and go home depressed whilst ‘the Winners’ stay in the pubs and then buy alcohol to celebrate. In a country where most Ugandans don’t have enough money for food or school fees, there always seems to be money available for a few beers or Waragi (Ugandan Gin) after the match! Newspapers often recount alcohol related deaths of supporters over-celebrating even just league victories!!

My husband loves Uganda as he is an enthusiastic Manchester United supporter, in his 33rd season. In our old house we had DSTV for a monthly fee of 185.000 UGX (approx. 90 US$) and received the maximum channel ‘bouquet’, so 2010 was certainly a good year for him, finally being able to watch every single Manchester United game.

Unfortunately, the new house has only a very small living room and therefore we have not yet set up our stereo, video projector and big screen. Hence for the last 4 weeks my husband has been suffering from ‘withdrawal’ and shows worrying symptoms like not getting up from bed until lunch time and then spending hours after hours at the laptop cursing the slow Ugandan Internet connection as he tries to log in to BBC Sport or MUTV Online.

Before football causes my marriage to go completely down the drain I have decided to turn my direction from constant moaning and in its place set-up a new project in this happy new year. I like Internet, I like blogging, and I especially love maths and statistics, so I have started a new blog: Soccerwidow.

Whilst my husband will probably spend another year passively observing English football games and reading everything what can be found on the English League in the Internet, I will actively use my increasing blogging knowledge and skills and develop an informative web site about English football and in particular betting. With the many millions of football supporters world-wide I hope that my new English football and online betting blog may find more readers than my blog about Uganda and development services. As my blog hopefully grows I will enter the many affiliate programs and place links and adverts in my new blog, and if my many readers then click on them then I will earn money with football being a dedicated anti-football person. This is not a joke! I’m going to be very serious about football and betting; and my husband has promised to support me by moderating my articles. I am extremely excited. 🙁

Fussball Mania

Posted: 2nd Januar 2011 by Bellusci in Daily Life/ Alltag

Es gibt kaum einen Ugander, der nicht ueberzeugter Fan einer der englischen Nationalmannschaften ist – meistens Chelsea, Arsenal oder Manchester United (einige wenige auch Liverpool). Viele der lokalen Minibusse und BodaBodas (Mottorrad-Taxen) tragen Clublogos oder grosse Schriftzuege wie “I love Manchester Utd”. Die Rechtschreibung ist oftmals fragwuerdig, aber die Werbung ist liebevoll handgemalt und aufwendig. Dann die vielen Leute, die Fussball T-Shirts tragen. Fragt man allerdings die Fans, wo sich denn England auf der Landkarte befindet, koennen nur die Wenigsten darauf eine Antwort geben; viele wissen nicht einmal, dass England in Europa ist und wo in der Welt sich Europa befindet.

Dies ist jedoch nicht nur ein ugandisches Phaenomen. Read the rest of this entry »