What is Duke Engage?
In the summer of 2019, I participated in a Duke Engage program in conjunction with Duke Engineers for International Development (DEID) in Kaihura, Uganda. As a Zimbabwean-born immigrant in the US, I’ve held an interest in learning different approaches towards investing in the African continent despite living in the States. Our team of 9 students worked with a local NGO, Bringing Hope to the Family (BHTF), for three main goals: aid in the construction of a nearby bridge, volunteer at the local clinic, and teach at the regional primary school. Because I applied via DEID, I was on the local construction team for the majority of my time there where we collaborated with a team of local builders to complete the bridge to aid in travel during the rainy season. While staying there we soon learned that the primary school wanted to paint their outside walls, so I and a few of my peers painted images that would encourage the students to learn when outside the classroom. Additionally, I had the opportunity to direct a short film to promote BHTF and its mission. Being the only Duke student with African roots played a significant role in my ability to contextualize and be a liaison of sorts between my Ugandan and DukeEngage peers. These experiences taught me much about adaptability, tailoring an end product to the needs of a client, and conflict resolution.
Really, it was a summer of doing some of the odd and difficult jobs that BHTF wouldn’t otherwise have the time or resources to do given that it’s running an organization so integral to the wellbeing of its community. I can say, without a doubt, that this was one of the best experiences of my life: not because of what I did, but the people I met and the lessons I learned along the way.
Listen to the audio above to hear more about my Duke Engage Experienc.
I value this experience above any course or opportunity here at Duke. BHTF does exceptional work in Kaihura to support members of its community. They do so in a way that requires immense resourcefulness, grit, and generosity. Each of the images you see in this artifact reflects some small aspect of our time in Kaihura. We didn’t take many images while there, it felt a little out of place to do so. But I hope the moments we did capture give a glimpse of our experience.