Showing posts from 2008

Special Holiday TrEaT! an Appreciative Inquiry in a small village in S.W. Uganda

We have come back to Lake Bunyonyi to spend Christmas - I am in town today to connect and say happy holidays before heading back out to the lake with more supplies this afternoon.

It was a special treat for me to be able to participate in facilitating an "appreciative inquiry" process last weekend with about 40 households on the peninsula where my friend Wilfried is developing the Amasiko eco-tourism and youth training community development project.

Women, men and youth were divided into groups and facilitated through the same exercises for discovering their own capacities, developing their own visions, and making mini action plans for change that builds upon what they already have. Then we combined everything to develop a vision for the village 5-10 years from now. It was my appointed role to watch all of the groups and identify what was working and not working in the communication process, and advise the facilitators on how to get back on track. The facilitators were wonderf…

ThiNkiNg about vision

The more we can allow ourselves to see and accept new possibilities , the more we will ultimately achieve.

I had a really strange experience back in 2001, that I didn't understand very well at the time. I'd be lying if I told you I understand it all now; I don't know that I ever will. But all these years later not a day goes by that I don't think about it. It was one of the best worst experiences I've ever had.

The only way I know how to describe it is that I had a vision.

No, not the kind of vision you are encouraged by mentors to develop for your life or business plan, nor the kind of acquired visionary skill that gives really smart people an edge in the world. This was a bolt out of the blue - a crystal clear picture of cross-dimensional possibilities I hadn't considered before, dripping like Dali's clocks with a hope-filled intuition I could hear like a voice in my head that was speaking from the bottom of my soul. It was beautiful, exciting, and frighteni…

a ToASt to the blogosphere!

When I started this blog, I told myself I would write here for 4 months. Now here it is almost Christmas, and the pArtY I'd planned should soon draw to a close.

At the time there was a possibility we'd be leaving Uganda in December. Our departure date for moving back to Europe is now set for mid April instead. Meanwhile, some extra stuff to do came up - especially during this past month - which has meant I've not even been at the pArtY much lately. But wait! Don't go home yet! There's still so much to say! Then again, do I really want to draw this "winding down" process out any longer? I'm on the fence about what will happen here after the holidays.

The thing I didn't expect to happen was the "community" part of blogging. I've been super active at a couple of online communities in the past - virtually addicted to them for the support they can provide to someone like me, far from home and grappling daily with the complex challenges o…

Walking on Sunshine

"Robin Hood of Mabira Forest" goes well!

Here are some fun pics from the 1st night's performance...

Singing Walking on Sunshine (before we become poor!)

Mama Wine and children (hoping Robin Hood will help us!)

Young Christina with Maid Marion

dAnCe & drAmA! Robin Hood of Mabira Forest starts TOMORROW

You'd never know it by the looks of this blog, but almost all I seem to be doing is writing lately...

I've been trying to write briefings for various people on various issues with regard to the organizations I've just retired from. The thoughts spill out until I think I've explained something thoroughly, then I read it the next day and see that there's just too much information to be useful. So after a week of garbledy-gook I finally managed to get an email out today that broke about 25 pages of thought into 4 main points. Don't know yet if I've they were understandable by all of the parties concerned, but it's a relief to have at least piled up all the scattered thoughts and cleared my mental desk of them for a while. Especially since tomorrow night is opening night!

Yes - in between the typing and pacing there has also been singing and dancing, in preparation for the Holiday Pantomime play that's put on each year at the National Theatre by the Kampa…

LeArNing about being a social entrepreneur

The first time I ever heard the term social entrepreneur was just a few days before my interviews to become an Ashoka Fellow in August 2001.

At that point, I'd been pouring my soul into Life in Africa for nearly 3 years, and everything Ashoka stands for spoke to the very marrow of my being. It was an absolute thrill for me to learn that there were others around the world like me, driven by an inexplicable passion to do whatever they saw they could to develop new system changing ideas. I knew clearly in those days that the possibilities for using the Internet for development I was seeing from my side of the world could change whole global development aid system. I wanted to help shape that new people to people system, and it was exciting to learn from Ashoka that I was not alone in having the audacity to think that big.

But by the time I was actually offered the Ashoka Fellowship - 4 months after the interviews - my immediate response was to turn it down. Sept 11 had happened, compl…

crY at goodbye

There is the life in Africa that was.

There is the life in Africa that never was.

There is the Life in Africa that will continue to be.

And then there is me.

I close my eyes and try to embrace the waves of change that crash over me.

Around me.

Behind me.

Without me doing anything at all.

When I see the wave coming that I think might take me closer to shore,

I grab it and hang onto it.

The turbulence propels me,

and I am lifted to a new place... beyond it.

Now I can watch, and cheer my fellow students on.

Ours is not goodbye, after all

but hello

from a new point of view.

My work here is almost done.

Life in Africa continues

and so will my own life,

richer for all I will cry for when I leave


Putting events of the past couple of weeks into words - or putting anything into words while these things have been happening - is proving itself to be an emotional challenge that I feel myself avoiding. There is the part of me that longs to commit the process of change-making to words; there is the …

DrAMa: child soldiers and the path to peace

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions...

My sister in law is an artist who creates and sells wonderfully unique garden stepping stones, like the one in the picture above. The first time I saw them (and fell in love with them!) the Life in Africa community in Kampala had just recently started doing some work with war-affected children in Northern Uganda. We'd had some great experiences with art-therapy workshops making peacetiles (another collage concept) so I immediately started dreaming of how we might also make stepping stones with those kids.

Over the course of two decades, the Lord's Resistance Army abducted many thousands of Northern Ugandan children, who they brainwashed through extreme violence to serve as soldiers in their brutal rebel army. At the time I was thinking about the stepping stones (circa 2005), there were still thousands of child soldiers "in the bush" with the LRA, but peace talks seemed likely to happen soon. A local radio st…

Time out for another ThAnK YoU!

I've been learning a lot over the past month from participating in a blogging community called Entrecard. I've seen blogs of all kinds there, and bloggers of all kinds have been visiting this blog as well.

Here's a quick thank you to the Entrecard members who've visited this pArtY the most over the past month.

LaUgH: my two husbands

I moved to Africa and became a polygamous woman.

Well, no not really, but kind of... it's rather complicated!

I have to say, I have the best ex-husband one could possibly hope for. Not that I ever hoped to have an ex-husband, mind you, but it is what it is and I am very grateful that we're able to get along so well now. We've separated twice, both times for several years. He left Uganda about 1.5 years after we separated for the second time, right around the time I met N.

N is a wonderful Ugandan man with years of experience living abroad, who the kids and I are all crazy about.It was pretty much love at first sight for all of us. He won't be leaving Uganda with us right away, but does plan to catch up with us when we hopefully move on from Europe to Asia in a couple of years. N and I currently live together in what Ugandans would call a common law marriage. In Ugandan culture it's normal that I refer to him conversationally as my husband and he refers to me as his…

iGive 4 LifeInAfrica: a chALLEnGe to fellow bloggers

The iGive 4 LiA Challenge is over - congrats to the winners!

BLOGGERS: You can still support Life in Africa by placing an iGive badge on your site. If you do, we'll reciprocate with your badge on the front page of through mid-February 2009.

Here's the badge:

Please link it to:

When you've added the iGive badge, let me know where to find it in a comment to this post, and I'll arrange for your badge to get on the front page of

Many, many thanks!


If you have a blog, this christinaswwworld pArtY chALLEnGe is for you! Yes, there will be prizes. AND it's for a great cause. Read on to see what you need to do to participate, make an impact, and win!

The holidays are coming soon, and even if we're all tightening belts this year, chances are there's a few gifts you and your readers are going to need to buy, and you'll probably be buying some of the…

crY when the cutting edge bleeds

There are stories I am afraid to tell.

I wish I could tell you it's been all sweetness and light, working to try to empower African communities. I wish I could tell you that I achieved all - or at least part of - what I set out to accomplish. I wish I could tell you that I clearly see the lessons in whatever these trials and ordealswere supposed to teach me.

Were I able to find nuggets of wisdom in the wreckage, I would want to share them in a way that inspires others to do better, to be smarter, to achieve more. I fear sometimes, that I might never find them.

And yet, there is the painful process of sifting through the mess of memories that my mind's eye is compelled to try and do. I lie awake nights imagining where to begin, and how to combine the memories of magical experiences with an acceptance of how things changed... of how my understanding of what I was up against changed... of how I changed. Writing is a tool that can help me with the sorting through. But I fear somet…

a sincere ThAnK YoU to the Blogging Buddha!

Yowza! I'm blushing...

This blog has won a prize!

pArtY @ christinaswwworld has won first prize in the Blogging Buddha's Small Blog Big Heart blog contest! The winners were decided upon mainly by these criteria: innovativeness, age of the blog (new blogs are given more points than more established ones), presence and absence of ads and affiliate programs, the usefulness of the blog, regularity of posting, etc.

I've been following the Blogging Buddha's ethical online money making tips over the past couple of weeks. If you are learning to blog, it's quite an interesting read.

It's an honor to be recognized. Thanks so much Buddha!

dAncE! Street art from Zanzibar

The day after we came back from Lake Bunyonyi last week, the kids flew off to play on the beach with their dad in Zanzibar. Lucky dogs - Zanzibar is another place that I'd call one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited. The people there live very basic, relaxed lives, but they are not poor like in other parts of Africa. The swahili culture and food are just lovely, and the beaches are to die for. I'm sure the kids are having a great time.

I bought the painting above years ago, somewhere on the street in Stonetown (Zanzibar's capital). It hangs on our living room wall, and seems to be smiling at me today. I'm happy dancing with them because the boys are coming home tonight. Yippee!

I was recently asked about selling African artwork online. I must admit I've been out of that loop for a while. If anyone knows of any online marketplaces for art, I'd be really happy to know about them! I wonder how much my silly dancers from Zanzibar would fetch.


AdvEntURe @ Amasiko Community Based Eco-Camp, Southwestern Uganda

View from the Amasiko peninsula, Lake Bunyonyi (Uganda)

Uganda's Lake Bunyonyi has got to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Sprawling through valleys created by southwestern Uganda's very old volcanic mountains, it's said to be Africa's deepest lake. Mountains caught in the middle become islands, large and small. I've been told there are over 100 of them, mostly family owned and terraced to grow crops which are ferried by canoe to a small dockside market near the main road to Kabale, South Western Uganda's largest town.

My family has a decade of gorgeous memories from weekends spent at Lake Bunyonyi. It was the ladies in these mountains who originally inspired what would become the Life in Africa logo, almost 10 years ago, and there is an energy there that calls us back every 2-3 years. We've stayed at many places on the lake. This past weekend, we visited the future site of a wonderful community based eco-tourism project that our old family fr…