Meet Kenneth Mukwaya the very first Uganda to volunteer with us here in Goma DRCongo
The very first volunteer who has come to eastern DRC to work with us is Kenneth Mukwaya, a Uganda philanthropy highly involved in works of charitable organizations.
One among the activities of COJESKI in North Kivu currently is to pool various people especially volunteers, interns and all other kinds of people to support the work of civil society organizations, community groups and other projects driven by local people. Since 2021 when we resumed work, this is the very first foreign volunteer we have received and now hosting him for some months. Kenneth entered Goma on Friday 20th, 2023 in the morning through Rwanda-DRCongo border. To make things easier for him, there are Travel Buses from Kampala Uganda coming directly to Goma DRC.
Kenneth will be highly involved in the branding of the organization, visibility of the organization and support the fundraising campaign which is key for all our projects. Kenneth will also offer English lessons to our staffs so that they are able to interact and share knowledge in order to break the language barrier, Kenneth is also passionate with community work targeting Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) around Goma.
Few questions from Kenneth
What did you know about Congo?
Generally I knew that Congo is highly affected by the war and it was difficult to live there, so this made me fear come here, and as you know we have so many Congolese refugees in Uganda, but also I observed that there so many Congolese who come Uganda for business and go back, I was somehow confused, this attracted my attention to want to know more about the country. News also about the situation of refugees and IDPs attracted my attention and I developed ideas on how to help these people.
What motivated you now to come to DRC?
I had established contacts with my Congolese friend who shared with me information of the situation and also through his posts on Facebook and other social media I realized that in some places it was possible to work there and also support people. That is how I started making up my mind and now I’m here.
How did you believe that your friend was in Congo? And how did you believe that what he was telling you was true?
I first asked from people in Kampala who knew this friend in Kampala and told me that he left Uganda, so I looked for him in Facebook and then I started talking to him. Then to confirm I asked him to send some few pictures of things in Congo and he did that quickly, so I concluded that he was there.
So because I knew him as a leader helping refugees and looking at the responsibility he had in the Community I knew that he was a trustworthy person and could not disappoint me, so I trusted this guy and I knew he will come for me, especially that I have built relationship with him some years back when he was in Uganda.
What other plans did you have in mind in case the person had disappointed you and could not come for you?
At first I thought about may be going to the nearby church or Mosque and ask for help then from there may be I can get a way out, I also have some money to pay for the Hotel for some few days but my challenge was the language. Surprisingly on the Bus I met other Congolese and made friendship with them which gave me more options now in case why friend did not come. Good enough I was in contact with him through social media and when I reached the border they called him and he confirmed that he knows me, so he came and picked me.
When you came here what surprised you?
First of all I realized that Goma is a big city and highly developing, in Goma, the town is peaceful and life is as usual as possible, business is going very well and people are very busy doing so many things. This was the first surprised because I expected war here, but then I was informed that war was far from Goma. I was amazed by the nice buildings in Goma, the nice roads, the stability of the electricity and but also people are enjoying life here. The second thing is the cost of living here in Goma is cheap, so far I have realized the house rent is cheap, food in the market is cheap, very nice rentals and this depends of the money you have, and life is easy, at home you have electricity, water, a house in a fence and then using Gaz to cook. Goma has all the food we eat in Uganda so there is no problem, however the way of cooking it is different.
So far the very first challenges I’m facing is the issue of the language, everything here is in French, much also as people speak Kiswahili but I do not know it, good enough my friend speaks English, the second challenge is that Goma is extremely cold, so I’m facing it already and it may get some time to get used, but also it is raining so much here. People here are friendly and good enough now I know how to great people in Kiswahili.
Next move from here
Now tomorrow Monday I will participate in a meeting with journalists and I will share with them the need to portray good and positive image about Congo, and about Goma, because I have the view already that this country has been negatively portrayed in social media and in mainstream media. Personally I want to use my social media to show all positive and things here, and now will get involved in various organization work. I use my free time to visit people and places, to travel to other places and build contacts with people.
This Sunday I wish to visit some Ugandans here and share with them some few ideas.