Münster is full of interesting people
with diversified life stories. Our reporter Beata Jaranowska has met an always
smiling girl who agreed to share her story with us. Lydia Adakouru is 28 years
old and comes from Uganda. She is participating in a social voluntary service
in The South-North Component of the Weltwärts
Programme of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
(BMZ). My host organisation
is German Red Cross,
which recently has started a cooperation Lydia’s placement organisation
Y4M: What is Uganda for
Lydia: I believe I don’t belong to one home, literally, but
Uganda is a safe home because you can have a home anywhere. Right now I have a
beautiful Wohnung with nice roommates and that is a home for me but when I think
about Uganda I think a definite home – no matter what
happens, I will always
have a place there. I can always come back to Uganda if I don’t like the
temporary home (laughing) or my roommates become something strange
Y4M: Many people from Europe don’t know much about
Uganda. What would you say about your motherland to a person who has never heard
of it before?
Lydia: Geographical aspect – it’s in East Africa, the
culture: 4 to 5 ethnic groups and each of them has a different culture, customs,
traditions, languages. There are about 40 different languages in Uganda without
the same dialects. It’s quite a complex country with so many traditions, so many
peopl but in the end it’s a very beautiful unified country. The people are so
hospitable, open and friendly. We also have a lot of food prodution –
tomatoes, cauliflowers, onions, cabbage, broccolli, carrots, zuhinni,
abuergine. For example my mum always cooks vegetables, she would never eat them
Y4M: You eat a lot of vegetable, ok. What about meat?
Do you eat meat?
Lydia: Yes, we do. Yet meat is a very special cousine
because you eat it just once in a while. It’s expensive Meat prodution in Uganda
is very different and slow. In Germany that would be called bio production. The
most popular meat is beef and pork.
Y4M: I would like to ask you about your voluntary. What
exactly are your responsabilities in Stift
Lydia: The organisation where I am working supports adults
with disabilities. So I am placed in one of their hauses of those individuals
and I help them in their daily social lives.
Y4M: Why you decided to work in this
Lydia: I like it so much because I always liked to work in
this social setting, work with the people and sice I already have a profession
that I trained for – community psychology back in Uganda – and I had done some
social work and I would like to know more about the social field.
Y4M: Why did you choose Germany for your
Lydia: When I heard about the exchange programme, the
destination was already established. It was for certain kind of people and also
in a specific place so I didn’t choose it. It chose me (laughing). I chose it of
course because I thought I will learn so much, be engaged in intercultural
exchange and who would turn it down? Many of my friends asked me: “You’re 28 and
a volunteer?” But I answered “Hey, people! I might not have this chance again.
Even when you are 60 you can achieve something which you hadn’t
Y4M: What do you think about Germans? Did you have any
vision of Germans before coming here?
Lydia: Most Germans are closed-mided, not sociable – this is
what I read in articles or heard from people who where in Germany. Also thought
that everyone here is from middle income class. And I perceived that no German
would speak good English (laughing) apart from those who travel and are eager to
learn about other cultures. But then, what changed a lot, I know that many
German people can understand English but they don’t like to speak it in their
daily life. Also I was shocked on my second day to see a beggar on the street,
that they are also here. I mean I knew there are homeless people everywhere but
I thought that they have a lot of social support, common houses and the
sociatey would not be comfortable to see them on the street begging.
Y4M: So after over four months what would you say about
Lydia: Some of them are nice and hosbitable. They are very
precise and most of them are good time keepers. They live fast and efficient and
this is why they always talk about Urlaubcause they walked a lot the whole year
so they need Urlaub (laughing). What else… some really complain a lot which
pisses me off. Germany is developed country, people are have more
opportunities, they are very advantaged comparing to Uganda. And it’s weird for
me when someone is complaining about something which I don’t even have. Once I
visited a home, a very fancy one according to me.. and the very first thing I
heard from the host was “Oh, that’s a very old house”.. I thought “Are you
kidding me? I never had this… for once just shut up and appreciate what you
Y4M: Why are you learning
Lydia: I did a fast level on German language A.1 in Uganda,
two months before coming to Germany. I only knew less basic basic of German
(laughing). Right now I continue because I want to interact better with my
clients and also my colleagues and to fit into the community, to intergrate.
It’s also nice to learn another language. As I have said before I am interested
in culture and language is a part of it. You know some Germans are shocked when
I try to speak German and I am speaking in the right way (laughing). But also
they are shocked when I speak with mistakes, I mean shocked in a positive way,
that I try speaking, they appreciate it.
Y4M: Have you ever experienced
intolerance/disrimination because of your
Lydia: No, but… I had this experience after two months
being in Germany. I met an old lady in the bus. I came in, she moved her bag and
hid it because I came in.
Y4M: Maybe she just wanted to make space for you to
Lydia: I had a different impression actually. Of course she
could have associated me with someone who is desperate and maybe she had some
negative experiences with a black person before. If that would have happened
immediately after my arrival to Germany, I would have had a very bad
experience… But yeah, the bus driver greeted me in German and smiled at me
Y4M: Yes, a smile is always the best gift. Lydia, do
you miss your family/friends? How you deal with the
Lydia: Of course I miss them. Being away from them also made
me closer to them in a way because you want to know what is happening. If I were
in Uganda, I would visit my mum every second weekend because I know she’s there. But now I know she’s far away so I am always curious what’s going on. I
am not homesick because I can call them every day via Whatsapp, Skype or Viber.
They support me so much in the emotional way.
Y4M: If you were describe yourself with three positive
and three negative adjectives what would you
Lydia: In the positive sense I would say I am quite empathic
and I am also open-minded which also makes me adventurous in a way this is also
why I am in in Germany actually (laughing). I am also very hard-working. On the
other way, it can be positive but also negative, I am so motional. I always like
to move and sometimes I think I am overworking myself. What’s more I am
an excessive social wham. Most people say I talk too much (laughing)
because I always want to know things! Also sometimes I think I am too faithfull
with new experiences.
Y4M: In social work you should believe and be
faithfull, shouldn’t you?
Lydia: Yes, I mean so far I haven’t been extremely
disappointed but sometimes I feel it’s too much.
Y4M: Of course people make mistakes, nobody is perfect
but how to deal with it? How you deal with
Lydia: I don’t judge. I first analyse. Of course sometimes
it’s quite human to judge, to react in undiplomatic way, spontaneously. If I am
given some time to take a step back, I always ask “Why did that person do that?”
I mean you can never control human mind, never control someone’s interest so
everyone is different, anyone can disappoint you but they also have a reason
why they disappoint you. It’s just human to belive that anything can happen and
there are external reasons why people dissapoint each other. But it also helps
to have hope and faith which are one – they can’t be separated from each other
– and in some situations some people will not disappoint you. I belive
everybody is different and situations are different. Just keep an open
Y4M: Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.
Would you like to add anything else, share with
Lydia: My year is not complete yet. Probably the best, or
the most shocking, or the ugliest, or the most interersting experience are yet
to come. For now it’s great to experience different cultures, it helps you to
realize why some things are like they are, helps you to appreciate other’s
cultures. In the end there is no a perfect culture in any part of the world. I
don’t like saying this is MY culture, that is YOUR culture. I would just like to
have one human culture. It can happen if we just appreciate, exchange, talk,
interact. It’s also a way to get rid of stereotypes we all have.