My first week at MUD Africa
Hello again! It has been a fruitful week not only with MUD Africa and LUPPEN, but for me personally. We started on Monday with a preparatory meeting for the follow-ups, outlining what we wanted to do and how. Our plan was to use the same questionnaire that Matilda used earlier in the year, so that we could compare the results from both of the sessions to see if there was any evidence of progress between the two follow-ups. We also decided to add one additional question, asking the trainers to estimate how many people they had reached out to during the elapsed time.
The rest of the week, we visited Kaliwawala, Kaphinda, Katantha, and Area 44, and were received wholeheartedly in every settlement. It was fantastic seeing how many people showed up to the follow-ups, and also the lengthy discussions and insight that everyone readily offered. We had between 40 and 70 people at every meeting. Not only that, but it seemed that everyone had taken their newly acquired knowledge of land rights very seriously! Most of the groups stated that they had reached out to large numbers of peers, teaching them about their rights to register land and the benefits of doing so. Next week, we plan to start the translation of the questionnaire, so that we can have a more clear idea on the details of the answers, and discuss how we can move forward with LUPPEN.
One highlight of the week was a poem written and recited by a man in Kaphinda. He stood up in front of the group, and told the story of how, when is father died, his mother was evicted from the land that they had lived on for decades. He voiced his appreciation for our work, saying that now that he was armed with the knowledge of his rights to land, he was assured that the same thing wouldn’t happen to his children. This is one powerful anecdotal example of LUPPEN and MUD Africa’s actual impact.
Having only worked one week with LUPPEN, I have already learned a lot and garnered an enormous amount of appreciation for what LUPPEN and MUD Africa are doing. Having recently finished my MSc, I am all too used to criticizing essentially everything, something that seems quite symptomatic of academics in general. The problem, however, is that the classroom is so distant from what actually happens on the ground, and has a position of luxury, in that pointing out the faults from afar does little to actually change things. That is not to say that academics isn’t of utmost importance– because it of course is– but being here, and seeing how appreciative people are of the mere knowledge of their rights, is profound for me as an intern. Being partnered with and in the company of LUPPEN is a guarantee of unconditional respect, which speaks volumes to the work that they have been dedicated to for years. I can’t help but be excited for continuing to work with LUPPEN.
Next week, we will start the planning stages of our next project – the school trainings for primary school students in the same four settlements that we visited this week. Can’t wait to start the next stage! Over and out!