My name is Fabian Ohl, I am 30 years old and come from the beautiful city of Düsseldorf on the Rhine. In my professional everyday life I work as a corporate account manager for the Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf. However, for two months I left this life behind me and embarked on a unique adventure trip.
The scholarship programme of the Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation (SBFIC) has given me the opportunity to travel to Kampala and support the local SBFIC team on their projects. Those scholarships are given to (young) talents from the Savings Banks Finance Group after a selection procedure in the foundation’s headquarter in Bonn. Aim is to support these talents in developing personality, in dealing with challenges successfully
and getting in touch with other cultures.
By the many advantages over a large part of the world population with which I grew up, I feel very privileged. After I had read the tender for that scholarschip in 2018, it was clear to me that I wanted to have that experience at all costs. Some years before I organized a four week voluntary programme for myself in Ghana. This time was so characterizing and it was then when the desire was born in me to go abroad again to do development aid. To have the possibility now to bring in my professional skills made it even more attractive. So I applied and finally got the scholarship. In August I celebrated my 10th jubilee at Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf and then started my journey.
How do my working days look like ? To answer in typical Ugandan manner : "It depends." 🙂
Every Tuesday and Thursday we meet one of our two partner organizations to discuss the progress of our projects, to calculate on the budgets for upcoming periods or to plan our different types of trainings in financial literacy for the member’s staff and end beneficials. The other days I mostly spend with interviewing member institutions about their needs either on the topic of shared services or regarding the establishment of an academy for the microfinance sector. As a next step after collecting this data I evaluated the questionnaires and incorporated the results in the business plans for each of the two projects.
As my biggest challenges I would call on the one hand the fact that I never really got used to that very bad traffic jam within Kampala. Normally it takes me 20 minutes to reach work by tube and now I was stuck in the car four hours every day. On the other hand we are a small team and sometimes the office was not really well organized. For a new one, that makes it harder to find your way around.
What I am most proud of about my work in Uganda is that so many people asked me if I could stay for longer and continue my work. That means a lot to me as it shows that people appreciate what I was doing.
To put it in a nutshell the experience of going abroad and do project based work in a less developed environment really strenghtens your personality because you have to cope with a wide variety of challenges. Besides the training of your language skills, it is a pleasure to see so many beautiful spots of this planet which you would otherwise probably never find. To experience the infectious joie de vivre of the people despite their struggles shows you what really matters in life and grounds you. Basically these are my reasons why I would recommend that programme to anyone who would like to think outside the box.