Ep #013: Cindy Handle, Uganda 2014-16

Cindy Handle served in Uganda as a Community Economic Development volunteer. Her love of volunteerism started when working with Amnesty International in undergrad and continued to grow. On this episode, she reflects on her service, a year after returning home.

On this Episode:

  • Why Cindy decided to join the Peace Corps
  • What Cindy learned from her time serving in Peace Corps Uganda
  • Some of the ill-conceived ideas people may have about Uganda and Africa

Photos from Cindy’s Story

Uganda Archive: There is no greater feeling than reaching the summit and taking in the view. That first rest, that first breathe, and, the amazing beauty of reaching that mountain top. We look left to view Congo or look right to view Uganda. Then we look down and realize that after all we have achieved, the only way home is back down the path we climbed. The amazing thing is that it takes 7 days to reach the top, but, only 1 day to trek back down. Success! …. 8-day trek July 2016….. keep following! #glaciers #africanalps #mountainsofthemoon #pearlofafrica #uganda #trek #mountaineering #rwenzorimountains #uganda #congo #summit #peaks #climatechange #meltingglaciers #mindoverbody #focus #climb #highestpoint #keeptrekking #pcv #peacecorps #peacecorpsuganda #success #mountaintop #hardwork #challenge #determination #tenacious

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Where and when did you serve? What did you do?

Service: Mbale, Uganda, East Africa – June 2014 thru Sept 2016

Volunteer Role: AgriBusiness Advisor Focused on Feed the Future (FtF) project, funded by USAID

Sector: Community Economic Development (CED)/Agribusiness Partner

Partner Organization: Chemonics International

Project: Commodity, Production & Marketing (CPM)

What is one of your favorite Peace Corps memories?

While walking home from work one day, I passed my neighbor boy dancing alone in front of his home. He had a small battery operated radio set on a wooden chair, antenna fully extended and volume up. At first, he didn’t notice me walking down the quiet village road. He was dancing with such care-free joy and happiness, truly letting the music move his feet. Once our eyes met, he flashed a big boyish grin and continued dancing with delight. Like many Ugandans, he wanted to dance, and, didn’t mind if anyone was watching. I love thinking of him enjoying his life in the moment of that song.

What is one of your least favorite Peace Corps memories?

Mob justice is a common occurrence in Uganda. With a corrupt and unreliable police force, the local people often take justice into their own hands. This can be ruthless, chaotic and scary. I once passed a man who laid naked, bloodied and beaten in the street after being attacked by a mob. There were some speculations about his crime but nothing was ever confirmed. It was a brutal image that would be hard to forget.

What do you miss about the Peace Corps?

The Ugandan people. They are incredibly friendly, loving and helpful. After spending two years in a communal society, I developed very close relationships with my neighbors and organizational partners. They were always receptive to our projects and energetic about sharing knowledge. The mutual exchange of experiences and the unwavering level of respect for one another is unmatched to anything I’ve ever experienced in a working environment. But if I could sum this up, I’d have to say the standard of greeting. Uganda people always make time to say hello and ask how you are doing. There is something very special about a community that values relationships so highly.

What is something you learned in the Peace Corps?

Patience. 99% of the time our assumptions are wrong. There are no black-and-white answers when discussing the complexities of human behavior. We have to invest a lot of time into understanding one another before we can find a sustainable solution to community issues. And with this investment of time and patience, we are capable of creating some truly inspirational changes for the betterment of many.

Do you have a favorite quote or local saying?

‘We would rather fail and remain friends then succeed and create enemies.’

For more about Cindy’s Story:

Instagram: cindysmiles4u

Blog: https://cindysmilesforpeacecorps.wordpress.com/


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