• When a Participant Breaks his Gender Role in Front of the Whole Group

    June 23rd 2017. What’s Not Said Founder Sarah Sedlack joined our recent program with Ndejje University in Ndejje, Uganda to deliver additional sessions to some of the group.

    Neck deep in a class discussion around male victims of rape and a participant raises his hand to speak.
    When it’s his turn, he begins to reveal an incredibly personal story about sexual issues in his own marriage.
    “My wife rapes me.” Certain members of the class, both women and men, giggle, some of them in
    disbelief. I then address the entire class, “we need to all be respectful and listen quietly. He is trusting us
    with something very personal and showing a lot of courage right now.” Then, talking directly to him I say,
    “if you feel comfortable, please continue.” He explains that his wife not only ignores him when he
    communicates that he doesn’t want to have sex, but laughs at him and proceeds to mount him anyway.

    Here we have a Ugandan man, showing emotion and expressing pain in front of other men and women in
    the community. Specifically, this community was a product from our partnerships, with Ndejje University
    hosting the event, Coaches Across Continents (CAC) implementing their programs with Mark as the
    primary coordinator and coach, and What’s Not Said (WNS) with getting to hop on for a few days and
    provide supplementary training. The participants were passionate about playing soccer, coaching it, and promoting
    community leadership. Mark and I piggybacked on each other by referencing each other’s skill building
    exercises during our respective training sessions. For example, I facilitated discussion around consent and
    he created a game to illustrate how understanding is impaired without consent. For the sake of adding
    value and meaning to our discussion, this Ugandan man risked social rejection for the remainder of the
    training sessions on the field. Showing emotion not only goes against his gender norm as a man
    (expressing and communicating feelings and victim-hood in public), but it could be interpreted as a sign of
    weakness. I felt honored to witness this level of empowerment. Both as a sex educator of What’s Not Said
    and as a person in the world, I see the positive impacts being vulnerable can have in our relationships and
    communities, especially as a man in a society where men hold overt, systemic privilege and power.

    Showing vulnerability happened both on the field and off the field. Off the field, trainees showed humility
    and emotions and on the field trainees enthusiastically participated in games designed for children, which at
    times meant acting like a frog and chanting silly sounds in front of everyone. Off the field, the
    vulnerability allowed the conversation to organically move in directions I would have only dreamed of
    going. For the first time in What’s Not Said history, we were discussing the importance of sexual
    negotiation in relationships and marriages and the need for teaching about pleasure in conversations around
    consent and sexual assault prevention. And let me remind you, this all happened at a University in Uganda.

    I was warned by everyone, from Kenyans to westerners, to be careful and perhaps censor what I talked about, in Uganda. Uganda is known for being a bit more closed when it comes to sexuality, much of these attitudes being based on current laws (for example, homosexuality is illegal). And I have to admit that made me a bit nervous. But through my vulnerability and the vulnerability of our partners, remaining shame free about my work, active listening and keeping the discussions participant-focused, Uganda surprised me for the better.

    My name is Sarah Sedlack and I am founder of a culturally adaptive, comprehensive sex education program
    called What’s Not Said (www.whatsnotsaid.org). I discovered CAC through networking in Kenya and
    immediately developed both a mentoring and professional relationship with the organization. That relationship brought me to a CAC partnership in Uganda, where I facilitated discussions on Ugandan current events and taboo topics with community leaders from all over Uganda. The intentions of the forums were to empower more responsible community leadership, teaching skills in developing self awareness and empathy. These very skills were practiced in sport as part of CAC on-field games and reviews.

    This class goes down as one of the most memorable sessions because the participants were willing to explore
    openly together, which made it easier for all of us to learn from each other. A 39 year old male participant
    reveals what he thought was most meaningful about the forum, “WNS gave us the confidence to be free to
    be who we are and create new friendships among other participants.” As for myself, I feel thankful I got
    this opportunity to explore Uganda in such an intimate way, both on and off the field. I deeply respect the
    conversations shared and look forward to more to come.

    Until next time!
    ~Sarah

  • Uganda Is Promising

    March 29th 2016. CAC Community Impact Coach Godfrey “Moogy” Mugisha talks about working with CAC at Ndejje University in Uganda.

    Our first week in Uganda brought together the Kenyan CAC dream-team of Markus, David, Charlie and Nico Achimpota. After Nico’s first trip to Ndejje as a Community Impact Coach last year he ended up enrolling in the school himself. Because of this, we were able to reunite on his campus and were joined by another CIC, Godfrey “Moogy” Mugisha.

    Thinking about this week, Moogy writes, “Today Marked my 7th year working with Coaches Across Continents and 3rd as a Community Impact Coach. I was so pleased with the number of participants and that they showed up each morning on time and with a good attitude towards the whole session.  The CAC team woke up early and cracked jokes with each other on the way to the soccer fields, is there really a greater joy?”

    Working with over 90 participants is always interesting. Working with over 90 participants organized by a quality University is just a delight. Our coaches were eager and punctual. Probably two of the most appreciated qualities in our line of work. Combine this with one of the best CAC teams and I couldn’t ask for a better start to a new country. Each morning we had a breakfast of champions (rolled up chapatti with an omelet concoction) and a few evenings we had post-dinner board games with our wonderful German family neighbors. Uganda is promising.

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  • Feels Like Home

    CAC Self-Directed Learning coach Turner Humphries blogs about our first week in Uganda in 2015 with Ndejje University and his return to the country.

    March 30th 2015. I jumped into a matatu, a ubiquitous taxi van, usually crammed with more people than there are seats. From Kampala it was just a short drive to Bombo where Ndejje University is located. It was there that I would be spending the next week with my colleague, Kelly and our Community Impact Coach from Tanzania, Nico. As soon as you escape the big city commotion and chaos of Kampala you find yourself surrounded by a myriad of trees, each with different subtle shades of vibrant green. Despite a harsh dry season the plant life had refused to succumb to the intense equatorial rays of the sun. It was only seven months ago that I had called Uganda my home. I had lived in Kampala for the better part of a year and I never imagined I would be returning so soon. With the sun beaming through the window of the matatu beads of sweat began to form on my forehead, soon I would be fully drenched. The conductor of the vehicle shouted out the route we were taking to potential customers, competing with the blare of hip-hop music blasting through blown out speakers. Careening down the bumpy road narrowly avoiding people driving 100cc motorcycles I could not help but smile; I was most certainly back in Uganda and I was happy.

    Our first day working with Ndejje University was reminiscent of a Hollywood movie opening, or at least how I would imagine one to be. Five different media houses were on hand to capture how we integrate various social messages into football games. The Vice Chancellor of the University as well as the Sports Tutor said a few words to kick off our training and expressed their excitement about the future of our partnership together. Around one hundred coaches participated in the first ever program at Ndejje, many of whom were representing outside organizations. Being a year one program we were careful to take time on the basics, the majority of the participants had never heard of football for social impact before, so much attention was given to the fundamentals of our curriculum. One particular moment that highlights our Self-Directed Learning model came when it was time to put everyone into teams for our ‘Ronaldo for Fun’ game. Coach Kelly instructed everyone to organize themselves into six equal teams. The initial reaction from everyone was focused stares on the CAC coaches, as the participants undoubtedly expected to receive more pointed instructions.  Realizing that no further directions were coming confusion began to creep in. “But we don’t have bibs!” “How many players in each team?” Shouted many of the participants voicing their frustration. We shrugged our shoulders and told them to solve their problem. As time passed groups of players began to form as they started organizing people into teams based on the color of their shirt. Before long, six equal teams were ready to take the field. Kelly could have easily told the group to get into six teams with twelve players on each. Instead we used the opportunity to allow for participants to work together to arrive at their own solution – creating Self-Directed Learners in the process.

    One thing that stood out to me about this program was the genuine openness and curiosity the participants had regarding our sexual health and HIV games. We played a game called ‘Can Adebayor See HIV?’ In this game two teams of players line up facing each other. Players on each team stand close together with their hands behind their backs. Players close their eyes and the coach puts a bottle cap in the hands of one person on each team. In this game the bottle cap represents the HIV virus. Keeping their hands behind their backs, players then open their eyes and take turns guessing who on the other team has the bottle cap, representing HIV. This game serves to show that you cannot tell if a person has HIV by simply looking at them, the only way to know is to get tested together. Many of the participants came up to me during water breaks to ask me further questions regarding HIV. Showing my own ignorance about the disease many of their questions required me to seek out answers on the internet. It was great to see how inquisitive they were about a topic that many people find difficult to speak on.

    Our week at Ndejje University encompassed many of the things that make Uganda such a great place to visit: welcoming jovial people, picturesque landscapes, and genuine laughter and smiles despite the hardships faced by many. Many thanks to John Kaddu and the rest of the Ndejje University staff for making our stay so memorable. Webale ssebo!

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