After having internet access only on and off for the past three days, I have finally got myself a modem and set up the internet!
I arrived at Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, on May 14, and spent a whole day walking around the city looking for mosquito net and insect repellent (luckily I got them!). Many thanks to Jennifer for guiding me through a flood of cars and motorcycles. As a first-time traveller to Africa, everything seemed so fresh and unusual — the vast grasslands, the red dirt, and even motor cycles (boda bodas, in the local language) rushing by.
In the past three days I have been going to the Nkokonjeru Savings and Credit Cooperative (SACCO), the bank where I am working at. The SACCO is a member-owned organization which provides members with savings and loan services. Upon joining the organization, a member must purchase at least one share. The majority of the members are farmers, but there are also many businessmen. The SACCO offers two kinds of savings account: savings and fixed. The former is similar to the checkings account in the US and the latter is similar to the savings account. It surprises me somewhat that they charge a fee every month for the savings account, but the fee is minimal (0.2 USD) compared to those charged by other banks. The types of loans are even more diverse: they have loans for school fees, education, agriculture, business, developmental, and boda-boda (motorcycle). These loans differ in repayment plans and interests but not in requirements.
In the next week I will be going to villagers with bank officers on their mobilization trips. I will also be able to test out my survey questions before formally conducting them. Communicating with locals here has shed much light on how my questions should be asked to elicit the information I want. For example, I was using ownership of mosquito nets as a measurement of wealth (at least, to tell the rich and the poor apart), but the locals told me that mosquito nets are usually distributed for free by the government. Moreover, some people do not sleep under mosquito nets not because they are poor but because they don’t want to! They suggested me talk with a few farmers to find out the characteristics of the poor, middle-class, and rich households are, and revise my questions accordingly.
Right now I am sitting in my little room, and I hear children singing songs joyfully outside my window in the coffee plantation. Uganda is such a colorful country. I will try my best to make the most out of this experience.