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Sunday, December 29, 2013

South-to South Exchange Program Uganda- Memoir’s of a Fellow.

By Kate Kiama VV Lead Fellow-Kenya 2013

I have been a somewhat active fellow of the prestigious Vital Voices -VV Lead Fellowship program since earlier this year. The program aims to support a global network of emerging and established women leaders to participate fully in addressing pertinent issues in their society whilst also encouraging them to participate fully in the economy. The three year program offers participants mentorship, vital trainings and a source of information sharing. When the window of opportunity opened for a possible peer-to-peer exchange visit to be held in Nairobi, I immediately jumped at it. The unfortunate Westgate mall attack on the ill-fated Saturday  morning of the 21st September 2013 that saw the death of about 72 innocent people who were in the Nairobi mall that day raised security issues on the venue of the VV Lead South-to-South Exchange Program.

In light of the same, the venue was changed and fresh dates were set for December 9th -13th in Kampala, Uganda. Uganda is generally a very beautiful warm and ever shining country. Kampala is humid and much of our stay then was very wet in the early mornings. This did not deter Riham Helmy a fellow from Egypt nor I from enjoying the occasional morning swim in the Olympic size pool at the Speke resort Munyonyo, the hotel we were staying at during our stay in Kampala. The program managed to convene 51 fellows from over 26 different countries representing four different continents. Being in a room with all these amazing different personalities not only felt like being in a mini-UN resolution meeting but it also felt powerful and humbling at the same time…
VV Lead Fellows 2013

The VV Lead program is based on three pillars; Connect, Share and Collaborate. Each day built into either one of the pillars and programming for the each day further buttressed the same. On the first day we were each tasked with the beautiful task of dreaming and structuring our organizational goal, VV Lead Program goal as well as our week goal to be in tune with our overall dream channel. This was a very important reminder and lesson to continue dreaming….

Day two was all about sharing. Concurrent sessions were held for a better part of the day and I was excited to have attended sessions on effective pitching of an idea as well as facilitation for team empowerment. A good number of sessions were moderated by the VV lead staff or consultants but it was equally refreshing to have some fellows take up the moderation and facilitation of others. Day three and four focused on developing an effective personal strategic plan as well as enhancing the art of an effective negotiation respectively. The same was followed up by site visits to three different locations which fellows had to sign up for and which took place concurrently. The site visits were conducted in organizations within Kampala namely TERREWODEwww.terrewode.org , CEDA International (Bombo Road-Kawempe Division) and the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Limited (UWEAL) www.uweal.co.ug. The site visits were definitely part of the collaborating pillar of the VV lead programming.

Other sessions that really struck me and which I fondly remember include the speaking up and speaking out elevator pitch training which was conducted by Allison Shapira, president Global Public Speaking. I am now constantly aware of my pitch, tone and tempo and most importantly if I am talking in up talk…up talk it was made know to us is where your sentences end in a question mark when in essence they should end in  a full-stop. It leaves listeners with the opinion that you are either unsure or not confident in the message you are delivering. The knowledge café and the crafts fair were also less conventional methods that made learning, sharing and networking much more enjoyable.

A week is really a short time to digest and discern the amount of content received. It is an even shorter time to get to know each of all participants but I am comforted that I have two more years ahead to make the effort to connect with each of these great ladies whose similarity is that they are different!!!





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