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Mzungu Mike??


This is a blog to document my experiences doing charity work in Uganda. It started when my friend Gordon Nicol, through his early work with Children of Uganda, got me to support my daughter Winnie, who in turn came into contact with MADE Uganda. After several years and two trips there, lots of tales to tell and great people to describe. What you won’t find here is a tourist’s description of the sights of Africa.

Why ‘Mzungu Mike’? Mzungu is a Lugandan word best translated as “White person, presumed rich”. Some aid workers in Uganda resent the word, but it only becomes a slur if our actions turn it into one. My goal would be to make it merely a descriptor.

Why Uganda, out of all the places in the world to do charity work? Why not? It has the advantages of a fairly stable government, tremendous need, appreciation of charitable efforts, and- best of all to a lingusitically-challenged person like myself- a population where most people with any education speak English at some level.

It is a country and a people under much stress. AIDs, a small barbaric guerilla war in the North, refugees from nearly all surrounding countries that have more conflict than they do, basic poverty. These stresses forge the character of a people and I have found most Ugandans have been forged for the better. I learn more from them than they will ever learn from me about what makes a good person. I’m honored to be considered family by some special people over there, most of all my daughter Nazziwa Winnifred, shown above.

Upcoming sections will describe many of the people and will, no doubt, embarrass a few of them; but nearly always in flattering ways. But they are great people and I would have others realize it, despite their own denial of it.

You will note that many of my associations are with the older girls. Just to clarify any stray, dark thoughts that might bat about out there, the reason is simple: Teenaged orphan girls seek out father figures wherever they can find them, far more so than boys. Most volunteers in Africa are too young (and too predominantly female) to fill that role, so I am a rare exception. It is an honor to be an aid and advisor to these proper young ladies and it is great to be old enough and much-married enough that this role comes easily and naturally. I am officially at that ‘comfortable’ stage of life and embrace it readily, with only the smallest regret for the lost youth that indicates.

Who am I?

Mike O is a middle-aged (close enough!) database developer and long-time resident of Texas. A right-wing Constitutional Anarchist, personally involved in aid to Africa (primarily Uganda), dealing with the Neurofibromatosis, Type 2 of my son Alan, and have recently lost 80 pounds by willpower alone.  My Chinese wife Catherine is fairly tolerant of all of this insanity.

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Comments»

1. Nelson Yiga - March 27, 2008

Great Work Mike.
I would like to meet you either here in Texas or when you are in Uganda.
I am a musician and also a businessman and a helper as well.
I came to America very young, raised myself basically and worked so hard and God sent a guiding hand and I have grown into a man.

I was recently appointed on to the National Business Advisory Council by the Congress to represent Texas and when the phone call came in from Representative Tom Cole’s office I was surprised.

And so I look at our people and how I grew up, how I was in war at the age of 13 and realize that there is so much we can do and be if given a hand. And so I chose to go back and build a center where we can help our own people. Few successful immigrants have thought of that but I am sure if we lead the way, so many others will follow.
Where there is a will, there is a way. Please stop by my home in Brookshire for tea and so we can talk more.

2. tauni - May 2, 2008

Hi Uncle Mike,
I am so proud of the work you are doing and it makes me want to do something. John is still in search of work but as soon as things stabilize a little I would like to speak with you in more detail. I am sorry we did not see you again before we left. I really enjoyed our visit and hope to see you soon.
I am very proud to have an uncle like you!
Love,
Tauni

3. Christie Lee - January 7, 2009

Hi,
You are skinny on the pictures. Great job!

Mike O - January 7, 2009

Now that I’ve back to overworking, most of the lost weight has come back, sadly.

4. Lubega Aloysious Chairman for the association - April 5, 2009

Yes Mzungu Mike thanks for the great work, idea & support ,we are an association of youth called Kampala Rakarian Old Students Youth Association (KROYA) ,understand you have ever read about Rakai and what happened there ,all that been delt away somehow but this time we are working hard to ensure a better future for fellow youth from rakai .thanks.

5. jen lemen - February 24, 2011

are you still working in this area? would love to connect if you have time and can write back.

6. muzungumike - May 28, 2011

Jambo Mike, here is the other Mike, you remeber on me? I have find social society for help in East Africa. The name is Jambo e. V. in German. I’ll join this society and have contakt to the chief. They will development connection to school in Tansania “Baraka Primary School” for children from the Massai. We have on problem, then we will mount solar collector for produce electricity. Can you help us, with information how can self doing? I have get Melanie Martin, the chief from the society, your web-adress. Kwaheri Mike


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