are the economy
Evelyne was born in Uganda in 1978 and came to Canada with
her mother in 1988. Evelyne is finishing a degree in conflict
resolution studies and international development from the
University of Winnipeg.
I think my whole perception about the economy and
the world we live in changed when I went back to Uganda last
year. Suddenly I wasn't thinking about economy in terms of
the numbers, the statistics of how much people make and who's
bringing home what but how much input everybody has in
running the world.
To read more Stories, click here.
When I say running the world I'm thinking about it on
a grassroots level - the work women do at home and the work
men do at home and outside of the home. In Uganda it's mostly
agriculture. Women work in the garden and take care of the
kids - and not just one or two kids but five or six - and
they still have to harvest and plant the food, cook the
food, fetch the water, take care of sick kids.
I actually learned that work myself when I was young.
In Uganda at five or six years old girls are already going
to the well to fetch water, cooking, babysitting youngsters.
At seven and eight years old you're babysitting the one,
two, three year olds.
Being in Uganda again I became aware of how this everyday
kind of activity that is women's work is sometimes overlooked.
also became aware of all the misconceptions between the
North and the South. Because I have the advantage of having
lived in both places I can help dispel some of those myths.
In the South there's this perception that the North is the
best place to be: there's no poor people, it's just rich
people. There's no wars, it's all peaceful and everybody
gets along. There's no conflict at all. The media shows
In contrast in the North I get the opposite - people feeling
really sorry and apologetic almost, of people in the South
and thinking that it's only about poverty.
That whole issue of money just really bugs me. I think
money demeans and diminishes because it identifies who you
are. In Uganda I experienced how money is so irrelevant.
There people's lives still go on. People live life even
fuller than we do here without that money. Here we're always
on the go, go, go, and it's all about how much we can have
and how much we can consume. Coming back here, where money
makes the world go round has been very, very difficult.
So now when I think of the economy I think about an awareness
of the world around us. I think it's how everyone as an individual
can have an input no matter where they're living regardless
if it's an international input or within the community, your
neighbour or your environment - it's just that little input
we can have. I think it's how we are consciously aware of
how our actions benefit the economy and people around us.
It's not just individuality, it's how individuals as a whole,
how their actions affect the world as a whole. It's a collective
When we think of the economy in a materialistic kind of economics,
statistics, numbers kind of way it dehumanizes people. If
that's what the economy is then what are the people, what
are we? I like to think that we are the economy - we
make up the economy just by our actions, being aware of what
we're doing and how that affects other people. I emphasize
sustainability, because I think it's how we are consciously
aware of how our actions benefit the economy and people around
Before I left I didn't really think I was part of the economy.
I was a student and thought I just go to school, go to my
part-time job, go home. I never really thought I had input.
People have the idea that as kids we breathe and just consume
things. I guess I don't see myself as that anymore. I think
twice of where I'm going, if I'm driving or if I'm walking,
if I really need such and such an item when I'm shopping I
think of how to use it to conserve it rather than just use
it for the sake of it's there, let me use it.
When I think about the global economy and my background I
see that I made a 360. I came as a young child not knowing
what I wanted to do and where I was going and then I studied
international development and learned about Africa and the
other countries in the South - my home. Having made those
connections, I guess it just made me more aware of where I
came from - a third-world country. I know it's lacking
in a lot of things but when I say the so-called third-world
country, I don't believe in those terms. And now I've gone
back home to what they call a third-world country and now
I can be a connection, a medium between the two places.
In the Ugandan community here I have a role in mentoring
the youngsters that are born here. I can help young girls
who grow up wondering "Am I African?" "Am
I Canadian?" and find themselves in a society where
it's not so easy to be accepted because you're different.
My role is to help them grasp the experience of having both
cultures and appreciate both of them regardless of what
other people say about that.