My Counterpart: Naira

Throughout the placement, all of the volunteers work and live in pairs: a British volunteer with a Ugandan volunteer. The Ugandans are all under 25 years old, and come from a range of backgrounds, just like us Brits. Many have recently graduated, from an array of courses, such as Business Administration, Social Work and Community Development Studies, Commerce and Computer Engineering. Many of them are interested in entrepreneurship, and hope to start their own businesses in the future. They therefore have a lot to gain from ICSE, both theoretically and practically, and the hope is that some may even go on to secure jobs through this work experience.

My counterpart is Naira Kasumbah, also aged 24.

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The counterpart relationship is an intense one, as we live and work together every day, for nine weeks, even sharing a bedroom. Despite the intensity and occasional difficult moment, Naira and I have quickly got to know each other, and know when to give one another space, or share a good giggle (this is especially at classic T.I.A moments!). Naira has taught me a lot about Ugandan culture, people and personalities. She has been incredibly patient with me and has been so good at looking out for my safety and well being since the start. I’m looking forward to learning more about her over the next month, and hope to visit her family’s restaurant in the city centre sometime! This week I learnt some new stuff about Naira, which I’ll share with you in this interview…

Where are you from Naira?

I was born in my family’s village, Isingiro, in Mbarara, SW Uganda, but have lived in Kampala since I was a baby.

What tribe are you? Where are they from?

Munyankole, from Mbarara in Southwestern Uganda.

Does this tribe have any traditions or traits?

They rear cattle for prestige. Their staple food is millet, ghee and milk. Their traditional dress code is busuuti (mushanaana).

Where would you most like to visit in the world?

Mecca in Saudi Arabia, because I’m a Muslim and it’s a holy city for us.

So, how many languages do you speak?

Six! Lunyankole, Luganda, English, Rwandese, Lukyiga and Rufaro.

What is your favourite place in Kampala?

The city centre.

What do you love about Uganda?

The weather, food, peace and hospitality of the people here.

What do you not love about Uganda?

Traffic congestion ><

What do you know about the UK?

It’s a first world country, and the leader is a Queen, helped by the Prime Minister.

What did you study at university?

A degree in Information Technology

What would you like to do in your career?

To start up something that will help the needy, orphans, disabled, widows or the disadvantaged. To inform them of an organisation that provides them will skills to earn a living. Also to start my own business, like a restaurant.

Why did you get involved with ICSE?

To acquire practical business skills, to help SMEs grow to achieve their objectives, and to develop my own career.

What do you hope to gain from the programme?

Practical work experience, and business skills in operations and marketing.

What has most surprised you about working or living with Maddy so far?

Haah! She thinks I am complicated and hard to work with, but I hope she learns the truth… Also, Maddy is so tolerant, and she can bear anything in life.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Reading books, travelling to new places and being on the phone, Googling or searching online.

What’s your favourite dish?

Groundnutluwombo, with matooke and rice.

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