My first week in Uganda as the new project leader for Yoba was both interesting and challenging, in expected and unexpected ways. To my big surprise, I found that Uganda, in terms of its culture and state of development, is highly similar to Ghana, where I have been working on a project last year. So the culture shock and the time to adjust were reduced to the time it takes to get used to something you already know. Also, Tiziana took it upon her to introduce me to everything and everybody I need to know, and made sure I would not get lost on the first days.
The challenges I encountered so far were therefore not related to the usual adaption and orientation problems you would expect, but mainly consisted of the work in the laboratory where we are currently running a series of tests on the Yoba yoghurt. Fortunately, my extremely patient mentor Mrs Tiziana Pedrelli was able to explain the processes in a way that even I could understand. After two days of asking a million questions and puzzling over things like the origin of yoghurt bacteria, the constant headache is slowly receding as clarity begins to settle in. It will take a few more days at the laboratory for me to memorize all the steps necessary to make a probiotic yoghurt drink without poisoning everybody who tries it, but at least I am now sure I understand why Tiziana tells me to sterilize the pipettes and what she means by “magnet fish”.
After 7 days, I am beginning to grasp what living and working here for six months means, and how I can best approach the challenge of introducing Yoba in Uganda. Everything has worked out astonishingly well so far, and the only things I could possibly complain about is the rain we get almost every day and the monkeys that never come close enough to take a decent picture.
Greetings from Mukono,