Volunteer(3/3) - Luuk Kops

Luuk Kops The last few weeks we talked a lot about the problems of a country like Uganda. Problems of such a society come to the surface at all levels. But we do not only look critically to others. We regularly examined the progress of our SCS projects, especially during the last weeks of my stay. If you look at it in a simple way, we installed about ten separation wall and doors in three months time. A conclusion about which we have often laughed loudly, since we both use to work at a much faster pace. Why is there not a higher productivity despite we have put a lot of time and energy in the SCS projects?

To begin with, we must ask ourselves how important it is to rapidly install improvements. As is well known by now, the SCS motto is 'by prisoners, for prisoners. It takes a lot of extra time, but ultimately is not only a separation wall, but there are some guys who have learned a lot from it. You take it for granted that sometimes you should explain ten times the same thing. In addition, for many years nothing has been done to the maintenance of the prison, let alone improvements, so those extra few months ....

But of course not only the training aspect causes for the extra delay. As previously indicated, a Praxis is not here. Also getting a fair price is not easy. Before you have brought to mind to a group of about twenty Ugandan timber dealers that you are not a stinking-rich tourist, one more day has passed. And when you finally loaded the timber on a truck (again negotiations) and you are en route to Kigo Prison your biggest concern is whether or not you have been ripped.

Luuk Kops A few weeks ago I expressed amongst others my concerns about the hierarchical system in Uganda. The work here is simply stopped when the leader of the workshop is ill for a day. No one who suggests to find out what to do to get things on the move. Even worse if a higher ranking person has another plan with 'the boys' of the Carpentry, our ongoing work is just delayed another day. Consultation or explanation unnecessary, just one day of delay.

Since SCS strangely(?) has no big 4x4 in front of the house, we are moving using public transport. And when everybody in the Netherlands are regularly irritated by the delays of the Dutch Railways (NS), in Uganda there are no schedules at all. So regularly you have to wait for an hour for the Matatu to be filled up with passengers (it will only go when full!) this is all possible. It is also possible that the police will put the Matatu for a while on the side of the road before it can continue. Not because there is something wrong with the van, but simply because Mr. Agent needs money for his children to go to school.

During the recent months we have regularly questioned whether it is possible to better explain to Supporters in the Netherlands how we work in Uganda. Where did the time go and why the work progresses at a much slower pace than to what we are used to in the Netherlands. My conclusion is that it is difficult to explain because it's a different world. It sounds like a cliché, but you must have experienced it. And I'm glad I did as a volunteer of SCS!