“Are you a virgin?”

I’ll get to the title of this blog in a moment but first, today was our first full day of interviews and it was so awesome that I want to share it. The smaller team I’ll be travelling with for the next few days comprises these fabulous people: Karen Timoshuk, Cindy Corrigan, Jenn Nelson and Jim Harris.

Early this morning we headed out in a van to the Bomido Co-op Society outside Masindi. We were greeted by the chairperson, Turyagaruka Christine, ACE manager Masinguzuki James, and several co-op members.

Christine started our meeting with a prayer and introductions. We began interviewing co-op members on the spot and then were escorted on a tour of their farms. The work these Ugandan farmers are doing is impressive. Through their production co-op, Bomido RPO, they’ve been trained to take maximum advantage of their land and as a result they’re growing diverse crops. They’re also getting the best price for their crops through their marketing co-op, Bomido ACE. And they’re handling their financial transactions through a financial co-op, Bomido SACCO. Below are some of the places we visited today.

Bomido Co-op Society office sign
Bomido Co-op Society office sign
Prince, eight-month-old son of a co-op member who owns a shop
Prince, eight-month-old son of a co-op member who owns a shop
Co-op member Deo's farm
Co-op member Deo’s farm
Market outside Masindi
Market outside Masindi
My team looking at samples during co-op meeting
My team looking at samples during co-op meeting
Members Feko, Joseph, Grace and Deo at co-op meeting
Members Feko, Joseph, Grace and Deo at co-op meeting

After we completed the farm tour we returned to the co-op offices for a final meeting before heading to the market where these goods are sold, then back to our hotel for a debriefing. During the final meeting at the co-op, we Canadians got to know our Ugandan counterparts a little better and the discussion turned to everyone’s spouses and children. When he found out I’m single James asked me, in front of everyone, “Are you a virgin?” Yep, that was an awkward moment. All the Canadians froze and I did my best not to sink into the floor.

It was a moment of culture shock that I’ll not forget.

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One thought on ““Are you a virgin?”

  1. Yes, well, what sort of reply does one leave to that opening and close? Did you mentioned communication style in your table of comparisons twixt Uganda and Canada?

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