Sarah, from Uganda, is currently working as a Water Advocacy and Communication Development Worker, alongside the National Foundation for Development and Human Rights and also the Progressio Yemen office.
What is your work background?
I started off as a Research Assistant in the late 90’s and a volunteer in the sponsorship programme in VEDCO (a national organisation in Uganda). I then joined Plan International as a Research Assistant and Portifolio Follow-up Assistant. After that, I joined Action Aid International as the Regional Programme Officer, covering the southern part of Uganda. I had a diverse role ranging from programme management and partnership building to human resource and finance management.
I then worked with Christian Aid International as a Programme Coordinator looking after programme management, partnerships, fundraising and monitoring and evaluation. I then joined UNICEF as a short-term Consultant on early childhood development, focusing on evaluating the impact of the programmes that had been rolled out through the Ministry of Education, to integrate this section in the education sector on a national level.
VSO was my last employer before I joined Progressio. I worked in several parts of South East Asia as a Natural Resource Management Adviser.
What inspired you to become a development worker with Progressio?
Progressio would give me a platform to elevate my career and get to better heights. I was to gain better experience, which in my opinion would help me see my career forward. The fact that I get to share my skills and also attain a whole new set in Yemen was an inspiration that drove me to Progressio. The unique programme and monitoring flow was also a major driving force for me.
What is your first memory of arriving in your country of placement?
The graceful memory was the beauty of the country with lots of desert patches and stone. Rocks and mountains give the country a unique and beautiful glow.
The memory that will never be erased is the easiness at which civilians move around armed to the tooth, without a single government entity interfering.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Engagement with people from very complex and conservative societies and, most of all, being able to make a lasting difference no matter the magnitude.
What has been the most exciting moment so far?
The most exciting moment has been to empower people and being able to see them exercise that power.
And the biggest lesson?
To always be able to identify with the people you work with at every level.
What is the biggest change you have witnessed since starting your placement?
The staff and volunteers with partners in my placement have become more empowered to spearhead campaigns on their own as a result of gaining better skills.
Government departments in Yemen have gotten more interested in the issues that affect the people at the grassroots and put more efforts in to inclusive planning and the implementation of plans.
Being able to bring the local partners into collaboration with international stakeholders and to be given an audience to share their plans and intentions.
What is the biggest development challenge facing the country where you are working and/or the sector in which you are working?
The biggest development challenge facing the country is insecurity. The country has slipped steadily into statelessness being taken over by religious bandits and tribal affiliations. This has slowed down the development trends of the country.
The challenge in the sector for which I work is the steady fast depletion of natural resources and the fact that they are not being replenished.
If you could change one thing, what would that be?
The security of the country in order to take development strategies forward.
What strikes you most about Progressio’s development worker model?
It is all inclusive and packaged to nurture maturity and sharing, which can then guide and lead the Development Workers into better career paths.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of becoming a development worker?
To take the chance when it is available as it is with Progressio where one gets a chance to build a career through skill sharing, learning and also gain a full package of what the organisation has to offer.
Where do you see yourself once your placement has ended? And in what ways is this placement with Progressio assisting you to get there?
I see myself in many ways becoming a staff member at Progressio, as I would so very much like to be part of what I am familiar with and continue with the better path of development work. The other is to join the UN mainstream.