This summer I am working with an NGO called SEATINI in Kampala, Uganda. I was fortunate to have been selected as a candidate for this position through the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship program. The program is managed by the Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) and Rideau Hall Foundation, and is financially supported by the Government of Canada. This new initiative aims to lay the foundation for the next generation of entrepreneurs and academics with a commitment to Canada and the Commonwealth. Some background on SEATINI: SEATINI-Uganda, founded in 2001, is part of SEATINI, a sub-regional NGO, working in Eastern and Southern Africa with its headquarters in Harare (Zimbabwe). SEATINI was founded in 1996 and is a well-known organization; working closely with East and Southern African governments in the sustainable development areas of agriculture, finance and trade related matters. My internship this summer is working with SEATINI-Uganda at SEATINI’s regional office in Kampala. I am working under the capable mentorship of Joseph, whose role is Program Officer for the Trade and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (TESCR) program. This programme area aims at promoting the linkages between trade and trade related policy processes for the attainment of peoples’ Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Other words, the trade agreements and policies are conducive to the attainment of basic human rights. For example, it is directed to protect human rights from direct foreign investments entering the country. Often, land is sacrificed and given to direct foreign investors to further entice their investment; however, this land is already accommodated with schools and other educational buildings within the community. In some cases, the school is removed and a hotel is built (and never finished). When a school is relocated 15km away from the community where it was 2km before, Children and Adults in the community have now lost access to school and their right to education. Overall, this program advocates for fair and just trade related policies at all levels, especially in ensuring the integration of a most vulnerable group (i.e. the rural and urban poor particularly the women). In addition to TESCR, SEATINI-Uganda administrates four further program areas, such as:
- Regional Integration;
- Financing for Development/Tax Justice;
- Influencing Bilateral Trade Negotiations and Multilateral systems;
- And, Institutional Development.
These programs are inter-related and each department works closely together with the same broader level objectives, “to contribute to the fight for social justice, human rights (especially Economic, Social and cultural Rights), democracy and good governance, without partisan, sectarian, racist or sexiest biases”. – SEATINI After one day at the office, it is clear to see the passion within this organization, and a team-oriented atmosphere, working together to get things done. My first day was full of kind introductions, smiles, teas, chapati, and discussion. It was all about familiarizing myself with SEATINI, chatting with respective program officers, and reading the strategic plan reports for 2013-2015.