World Wonder

Inspiring Global Citizenship

Guest Blog – Building a Global View

on October 3, 2014
Allen and her daughter Honour

Author Allen and her daughter Honour.

Growing up in a little village in Uganda was very exciting for me for a number of reasons.  I had many siblings to play with, my family was and is still very close, valuing relationships, love, respect and support to each family member.  As a young girl, I very much enjoyed the daily excitement of playing and sharing meals.  If we had to leave home, then it was when we were going to school, church, hospital or maybe just taking a day off with mom to visit grandparents who stayed in close proximity to us.  My parents had strict parenting rules.  As children we found most of them hard on us but today I thank God for then seemingly strict rules as they helped my siblings and I remain morally upright.

Whenever I met friends who traveled for long distances, I admired them and hoped that one day I would travel. I am personally inspired by positive thinking people, those of great faith and people that believe impossible things happen! I love meeting new people and making friends. And most importantly I love to travel often and venture out into new places.

Going to high school and university did provide me that experience to some extent as I came to know many people that influenced people positively. However, that was always short lived hence I kept longing for opportunities to travel. Later, I had some opportunities to travel through my work with development organizations such as Action Aid International and Compassion International. As a parent, I thought about it more and wanted my children to get a global experience in their education.

I have a passion for development work such as working to uplift the status of under privileged children and women and other vulnerable persons. I believe in creating rights awareness for these groups of people so they can come to a position where they can demand for their services. Sometimes, to do this, you need to move out of your own local experience so as to better appreciate how different communities view and respond to life situations.

In 2006, I got married to my husband who I had known since I was 18 years old. My husband’s home town is in eastern Uganda and mine is in western Uganda, which means, this union came with travels as we occasionally needed to see family members in these two uniquely different parts of the country.

In 2011, my husband moved into a new role in Nairobi, Kenya. Although it is closer to home, we were still excited to move and to join him in a new location. My elder daughter Honour was then in day care and it was awesome to watch her get excited by the new developments in the family. My little girl Nissi was just a few months old. I was so excited that I was eventually getting closer to the life I had wished for.

In a space of less than 6 months, there were some changes and my husband had to change jobs and relocate to South Africa, a beautiful country with resilient people who fought hard until they ended apartheid and the injustices associated with it.  This was a time of many changes in the life of our family, yet we all looked forward to it.  South Africa is extremely different from all the other African countries in a sense that it has people from all walks of life – there lives a cocktail of cultures, values and backgrounds.  The infrastructure and service delivery are all different and good compared to all other African countries including Uganda. Unfortunately, it is also one of the countries with the highest crime rates in Africa.

Traveling abroad does give an opportunity for exposure to other cultures and other opportunities and this has been the case for my family.  It is exciting to watch my six year old daughter teach Afrikaans to the rest of the family members.  My daughters have had an opportunity to learn more about South African languages, foods, and a way of life among others.  In Uganda, where we were born and lived until we relocated to South Africa, the weather is cool throughout the year, with beautiful sunny seasons and some wet months.  Now, South Africa is one of those countries in the Southern Hemisphere where winter begins on 1 June and ends on 31 August.  Early last year, we had to teach our kids more about the weather, and the schools helped to explain why the dressing has to change, and also why we have to make some changes in our daily routine.

Although we still miss our big family and other aspects of our life in Uganda, we believe that it has helped widen our world view. This is especially important for the kids as they get to learn much more such as a new language, caring for pets, etc.  Nissi, my 3 year old little girl is doing extremely amazing at school, learning how to care for abandoned animals and plants. This is not common practice in Uganda as there are more human beings in dire need of food, clothing and shelter hence animals may not come first.  At the end of the day seeing the mind shift and newly found interests take root is exciting.

In brief this is what we have learned by moving to a new country as a young family:

  • How to interact with people from other cultures with respect and love.
  • The importance of showing interest in other cultures and lifestyles.
  • Understanding the history of South Africa and the sacrifices people make for the sake of freedom of others.
  • Developing the reading culture – this has been one of the most impressive things as it was not a major focus before.  Learning to spend more time reading with the children has been one of the things we have done more since we moved to South Africa.  Research shows that reading is important for brain development especially as children grow.  It is also a very important culture for adults to build into their lives.

We have endured loneliness and staying away from our close family in Uganda.  As a way of contributing to our local community in Uganda, I am creating a package for the very poor families in our neighborhood; collecting clothes and toys for women and children as gifts for their Christmas.  My family hopes to put a big smile on the faces of these vulnerable women and children as they receive the much needed clothing and toys for children to play.  We look forward to our trip to Uganda.

We are learning to build a family with a global view of life and I believe this will position us to be better people not only for Uganda but for the entire world.

More about Allen Kirungi:

Allen is a Ugandan development worker with a specific focus on education, children and gender issues.  Married and mother of two, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Management.

I had the privilege of meeting Allen and her sister in 2000 while Allen was here in San Jose, CA benefiting from Gift of Life International.  Through the power of social media and email we have remained in touch and enjoy sharing frequent updates from abroad.  I anticipate someday we’ll have the occasion to reunite in person!

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3 responses to “Guest Blog – Building a Global View

  1. Alic says:

    Allen and kristina, this is an interesting piece, true about my baby sister Allen

    Like

  2. Richard King says:

    Great article by Allen. I’ll email her.

    Not a big deal, but the Gift of Life program you Link to is different from our Adult Gift of Life. It is also a fabulous program but only deals with children. Ours was specifically set up to serve only adults because the cardiac surgeon who started it only operated on adults.

    See you Friday evening.

    Dad

    Sent from my Windows Phone ________________________________

    Like

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