Chai with Madelaine





by Dena Thomas, Monitoring and Evaluations Intern.



When working on development projects in countries like Uganda, I am constantly amazed by the assortment of people I meet from around the world with interesting stories and backgrounds. One of the best ways to learn about where they came from, why they’re here and where they’re going is to sit down and have a favorite drink with them and talk. I sit down with Madelaine Thiel who comes from Calgary, Canada, and is part of the ShantiUganda team as a Program Development and Partnership Intern. She is also very modest about sharing that she is a nationally ranked rower and avid athlete.

It’s so nice to be working with you Madelaine and thanks for showing me around on my first few days here in Kasana. How did you hear about ShantiUganda and what made you decide to spend the next 4 months of your life volunteering ?

I found ShantiUganda after weeks of research trying to find an internship that didn’t have exorbitant placement fees and which offered me the opportunity to develop the skillset I wanted as a development worker. I also had strict criteria for deciding which organization to work with, such as their sustainability model…

Where else have you travelled in the world?

I was born in Guelph, Ontario but my family moved to France until I was in grade 5 when we came back home to Canada and settled in Calgary. I caught the travel bug from my parents, and have been to England, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and through the northern US with them on family trips. In the 3rd year of my undergrad, I studied abroad in Guatemala and travelled throughout Honduras and Nicaragua.

What do you anticipate your biggest challenge will be here at ShantiUganda?

For me personally, I think my critical thought process might limit me from trying new things and allowing myself to learn and make some mistakes. I want to do a good job in my role, and above all do no harm to the people I’m most trying to help. I over analyse myself and sometime freeze with paralysis, so that’s an area I’m looking on growing in. I also want to keep up my fitness level, which may be difficult since a lot of my work is sedentary at the computer, so I need to build in time for morning runs before it gets too hot.

What do you think your biggest reward will be working at ShantiUgana?

To gain a practical understanding of the theory I learned in my undergrad. I’m looking forwards to the hands on work within the community. I also feel that I will gain knowledge from the other members of our team who have such diversity, both in terms of experience, age and background.

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