has recently visited a Hungarian family in Africa: Monika L. Novák has been living in the country for 10 years now. She gave an exclusive interview where she talked about her experiences, the joys and the drawbacks of living in a third world country.

Monika L. Novák is currently managing the HTCC (Hungarian Trade and Cultural Center) in Uganda with her husband, where they’ve been living for 4 year now, having previously spent 6 years in Congo. The couple is not only helping Hungarian businessmen, their guests and clients, but they are also managing a model farm, and Monika is the humanitarian project manager of the African-Hungarian Union (AHU). AHU is gathering supporters to help orphaned children and Monika regularly gives them presents when she visits them. The journey to the orphanage takes 2 days, as all the roads are in a terrible shape.

The family is currently living in Kampala, in a beautiful house, where they have electricity and internet connection most of the time – it’s a luxury that most locals can’t even dream of. Many villages don’t have electricity, and people have to walk several kilometres to get water, but, Monika says, these people are never complaining, and they are always smiling.

What Monika misses the most are her family and friends, but thanks to modern technology, talking to them is possible even though they are so far from each other. What she doesn’t miss at all is stress, depression, moodiness, nastiness, and the lack of tolerance.

Ugandan people are extremely happy and very receptive: neither Monika nor her family ever had bad experiences regarding their skin colour, and everyone around them, including teachers and classmates, are helping them to accommodate to the new culture. Monika’s children – Martin and Málna – are attending an international school, where the language of education is English. Contrary to most Hungarian schools, she said, children have the chance to get personalized education, teachers are helping those who are lagging behind and give more exercises to those who excel in a certain subject.

The Ugandan women love fashion, and they try to follow it even if they have a tight budget, but many of them wear traditional African dresses, especially on Sundays when they attend church. Every woman is friendly, kind, and interested in other people. Planned parenthood is not a norm yet, and an average family has 7 children, which makes it hard for women to work outside of their home, but things might change slowly.

What Monika likes most in Uganda is how kind and helpful people are. She said that if one leaves the Africans in peace and does not force them to behave according to the European norms, then one soon realizes that living in the now is what’s most important. Racial discrimination is not present in the country and locals help everyone to integrate. Uganda is a big safari park, with giraffes, hippos, snakes, beautiful birds, and the temperature is always around 28-34 °C with a light breeze.

Although Monika and her family find Uganda an amazing country, there are some things that are hard to get used to, such as how people are viewing time: they always “be right back.” Sometimes there’s no electricity, and there’s no water, and sometimes her cell phone doesn’t get any service. People really are nice, but they say they understand something even if they don’t, and there are no theatres, cinemas, and other regular events that they took for granted in Hungary. Despite the hardships the family feels home in Uganda, and the locals’ positive mentality, kindness, and honesty gifted them with such happiness that they will never  forget.

Copy editor: bm


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