Three Years in Uganda: Transforming A Lifetime

Carrie Wagner, a native of North Carolina, USA, and a professional photographer authors the book Village Wisdom: Immersed in Uganda, Inspired by Job, Changed for Life to share her transformative experience of 3 years in a rural Bakonzo tribe village in Uganda.  After volunteering with Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI), Ms. Wagner and her husband traveled to Uganda to build “simple, decent and affordable” housing to replace the mud and grass huts found in areas of extreme poverty.

The Bakonzo live on the steep slopes of the Rwenzori Mountains in western Uganda.  Their fertile fields produce plenty of food.  However, the flooding river, disease, lack of electricity and extreme poverty challenge their daily lives.

Under Idi Amin, the Bakonzo suffered extreme civil violence and for years past his death. In 1986,  peace and stability started building under President Yoweri Museveni, who still leads the country today.

After leaving Uganda, Carrie Wagner went on to become the International Training Director for HFHI.  She wrote, published and presented key training materials on subjects ranging from nonprofit Board development, strategic planning, diversity and cross-cultural communication.  By the time she left HFHI, she and her husband had served for 11 years in Uganda, Americus, Georgia and South Africa.

Speaking from experience, Carrie shares her perspective on the nature of sustainable change.  It starts with listening.  Ultimately, transformation is multi-faceted as Carrie, her husband and the tribe can attest.

Yet culture shock, frustration with project leaders, dysfunctional systems in Africa and corruption added complexity to accomplishing the goals of HFHI.  As an example, a power plant nearby sells its power many miles away while the Bakonzo live without electricity and light.

Still, the actions of a single man, Job, inspired progress and ultimately transformed lives including those of Carrie and her husband.  Although his life was not unlike those of other Ugandans, he maintained his own selfless commitment to change for the better.

In the end, it’s clear that a better life is desired especially in securing a brighter future for their children. They realize the value of education. They are also starting to see the value of grassroots community development and the importance of community participation and investment for true sustainability opening the doors for micro-finance and other for-profit opportunities.

Carrie is involved in supporting the importance of youth’s education and exposure to the richness of international cultures.  She is a keynote speaker at the Global Education Conference during International Education Week.

Carrie also shares that an online book club is available to join, and that a talk about this book, Village Wisdom, will be discussed on November 10.  If you purchase the book through the book club, you receive a 30% discount.  However, if you purchase the book from her own site, Village Wisdom Book, $5 of the sale goes to help the Bakonzo tribe in Uganda.  Watch the book trailer video below to learn more.

To learn more about Carrie, visit her website at  To learn more about International Education Week, click here.  To buy her beautiful and inspiring book, visit Village Wisdom Book.

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Here are links to the other inspiring episodes of Socially Conscious Investing that were mentioned in our discussion with Carrie:

Safewater International
Addressing Domestic Issues
Beading to Educate Maasai Children

Thanks for joining us, and tell your friends.

About Robin Eschler

Robin L. Eschler, the founder of Social Impact Marketing, started her career in developing foundational marketing strategies for companies of all sizes, from Fortune 500 to individual entrepreneurs and local businesses. She has developed and implemented international campaigns to launch high tech products and services and guided new business owners to successfully navigate the difficulties of growing a business.

Her life-long passion for helping others led her into nonprofit work for over a decade. Early on, she recognized the need for nonprofits to adapt to a rapidly changing world in which technology dominates and for-profit business practices are central to success. Her determination to help social causes in a sustainable way led to her creation of the Women’s Radio show Socially Conscious Investing.

Impact investing in for-profits with a mission of social change such as the fight against extreme poverty is a blossoming business sector around the world. With the economic decline, it’s clear that Wall Street requires change. Social impact investing addresses that need in a way that provides financial and social ROI.

As the Host of Socially Conscious Investing on WomensRadio, Robin’s goal is to educate people about the growth of social impact investing and social venture. Interviews are conducted with socially conscious business experts including foundations and nonprofits, social venture investment firms, micro-loan organizations, investors, educators, authors and social entrepreneurs.

This show’s mission is to help change the world through sustainable business practices that contribute to the economy, combat poverty, end hunger and provide better lives to all.

Twice, Robin has been recognized and received the highest honorary award that Rotary International gives, the Paul Harris Award, for service above self. Her community work has included developing local programs for disadvantaged populations such as foster children, troubled teens, and people with disabilities.

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