UVP: Ben, tell us who are you.
Ben: I studied Industrial Engineering and Operations Research with a minor in Global Poverty and Practice at UC Berkeley and graduated in 2010. Through a myriad of experiences, including continued growth in college and my sojourn in Uganda through UVP, I was inspired to professionally seek opportunities to utilize the power of technology to bring tangible solutions to development challenges. Today, I work for an organization called One Acre Fund, which currently empowers 120,000+ farming families across Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi. I work as the director of the IT department for our operations in Rwanda, and as a programmer striving to develop more powerful internal software to better serve our clients across different countries.
UVP: Tell me about your experience with Uganda Village Project. When were you involved, with what capacity? What did you do?
Ben: At UVP, I worked with the "safe water team" which had two projects: to create a safe water storage pot business that reduces water borne diseases in drinking water, and to install several chlorine dispensers, which are devices that disinfect dirty water by releasing small amounts of chlorine into buckets that are used to carry water from a well, in some rural villages. My tasks included mobilizing villages, conducting market research, and performing quality control testing on the products.
UVP: What was your biggest challenge working in Iganga? How did you deal with it?
Ben: I believe the biggest challenge for me was obtaining a humbling and sobering perspective of development. I think that a lot of young people, including myself, often romanticize the idea of "saving the world" and "helping the poor" without having a solid grasp of what it's like in reality; progress takes time and lots of sweat from lots of people.
UVP: What is your favorite memory about your time in Uganda?
Ben: My favorite memory was exploring with my buddy by biking through villages and jungles on crappy bikes, playing soccer at remote schools and climbing Pride Rock - all in a day's work.
UVP: What advice do you have for future interns?
Ben: Be humble, be thirsty, and don't forget that you are a guest. Also accept that you will change yourself more than you will change others.
UVP: How has UVP shaped your career today and what you aspire to do in the future?
Ben: If it wasn't for UVP, I don't think I would have chosen to live for a few years as a techy in E. Africa. I love it out here.