Working multilingually to promote wellbeing in Northern Uganda

29th March 2015 – Travelling to Uganda

It was an early start this morning. The alarm went off at 2.30am. Bearing in mind that the clocks had gone forward at 1am to mark the switch to British summertime, that did not provide a whole lot of time for sleep. I arrived at the airport at 3.30am and met with Katja. Whereas I managed to get about 3.5 hours sleep (in between waking up to remember things that I had forgotten to pack!), Katja had opted to stay awake right through – a brave choice. There was a delay in the departure of our flight from Glasgow owing to a runway closure at Amsterdam’s Schipol airport where we were travelling to get our connecting flight on to Entebbe (via a stop at Kigali’s airport in Rwanda). I felt right at home being sandwiched between, on one side, a man from Islandmagee, Northern Ireland (my home country), and on the other a man from Brasov, Romania (the country that my fiancé, Catalina hails from, and that I have had the pleasure of visiting a number of times). It was a seating arrangement that vividly represented the important emotional ties that exist in my life, and it was great to chat with both parties about people and places that we had in common. We met with Richard at Schipol and it was great to get our first opportunity to come together as the UK component of the research team. There was a delay in the flight departing from Schipol; fortunately I was able to get some sleep as the plane rested on the tarmac. Catalina had recently bought me Arianna Huffington’s book ‘Thrive’, and I was able to make a start on it during the flight. In the book Huffington (the hugely successful founder of the Huffington Post) reflects on important lessons that can assist people to find greater peace, fulfillment and meaning in life. Specifically, she highlights the concept of the Third Metric that is intended to balance out a narrow focus on how ‘success’ has traditionally been assessed using two other metrics i.e: money and power. Huffington persuasively explores the benefits that can be gained from fostering constituent aspects of the Third Metric namely: wellbeing, wonder, wisdom, and willingness to give of ourselves. The content of the opening chapters of the book, and the way in which the material highlights the growing rates of work-related stress (and associated physical health complications) very much resonates with the busyness that I have been experiencing at work and my noticing of the compromises that I have been making in other aspects of my life to accommodate this. Food for thought. Following on from the rather frantic efforts to prepare for the trip, reading this material has helped me to realign my perspective for our visit to Uganda, and has brought my focus back to the importance of being present with people and connecting with them through the work that we will be doing. The research project has been designed as a means of finding ways to support the psychosocial wellbeing of people living in Lira. The project is part of an AHRC project entitled ‘Researching Multingually: At the borders of language, the body, law and the state’:

I hope that we can embody this vision in the connections that we make with the local people that we will be meeting and working with.


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