Lucy Jodlowska and Kiersten Anderson have taken the Monterey Institute slogan “Be the Solution” to heart and are determined to acquire the skills and experience to truly make a difference after they graduate. The two friends are taking their coursework to the field in Uganda and making an effort to better understand the needs of Acholi women struggling to find their footing after losing so much to a long-standing civil war.
“It gets to the point where you look around and ask yourself where to start…there is so much need everywhere,” says Lucy after pointing out that although she had learned about the political and structural challenges, she was not prepared for the enormity of the problems she was confronted with after arriving in Uganda. Lucy and Kiersten have interviewed many Acholi women who fled the brutality of war in the northern part of the country to the capital city of Kampala where they live without security in slums. A large number of the women have lost relatives to either war or illness; they are often widows or single mothers with many children of their own as well as orphans to support. Through the Acholi Bead program the women get paid to make beads out of recycled paper for jewelry sold in the United States.
Lucy and Kiersten are both working towards a graduate degree in Public Administration at the Monterey Institute. Their assignment in Uganda is a voluntary part of their degree program called Development Practicum (DPMI plus). After participating in an intensive three week Development Project Management Institute seminar they started to prepare for a three month assignment with Acholi Beads, a socially conscious company working with impoverished women in Uganda. Their work is multi-faceted and among other things involves interviewing the women bead makers and conducting a comprehensive needs assessment and program evaluation of the 28 partners Acholi Beads has in Uganda. The final part of their assignment is to come back to the US and work with the founder of Acholi Beads in San Diego.