Nila “Kidege” Uthayakumar was born in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu in India.  In 1992, at the tender age of four, she along with her parents moved to Bozeman, Montana.  She did not speak a word of English.  Upon arrival in the U.S., Nila was sorely disappointed that she was too young to start her schooling, so she spent her time making mud pies on her stoop, and yelling “friends!” at any children who passed by her house.   ‘Friend’ was the first word she learned in English, and coincidentally, one of the first words she learned in Swahili was ‘rafiki,’ which means friend.

In 1994, she and her family moved to Thousand Oaks, California, a beautiful little town in the south of the state.  Some her fondest childhood memories are of weekends spent hiking in the surrounding mountains.  One day, after having lived for ten years as an only child, Nila’s  parents surprised her with a baby sister.  In 1999, the family of four moved to the sunshine state, Florida, which they have called home ever since.

Nila graduated from the University of Florida with her BS in business administration, and a minor in African studies in April 2010.  She studied Swahili at UF for the past two years with the hope of becoming fluent within a few months of her arrival in East Africa.  Upon graduating, she will spend roughly two years in East Africa.  From May to December 2010, she will be a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar studying Swahili at the Institute of Swahili and Foreign Languages in Zanzibar, Tanzania, and will be conducting field research on the Tanzanian mainland.  The following year, in 2011, she will work in Uganda and Kenya in microfinance as a Kiva Fellow.

Nila considers these two years spent in East Africa as a continuing “practical education.”  Among other things, she hopes to discover where and how she can be of use in this world, and hopes to perfect the art of living.

She also is seriously considering making Kidege, (or ‘Little Bird’)  her legal middle name since her parents failed to give her one.


6 thoughts on “About

  1. How are you, Nila?
    My name is Samuel J.K. Choi.
    I have proceeded the project in kasese district, Uganda since 2009.
    I’m korean and founder of SIFE KOREA Inha Univ. (www.sife.org)
    we will have a partnership with KKABUDE SACCO in katwe town, kasese
    so, i have many question about SACCO.
    if you are in uganda or kenya. can i visit your office ?

    • Hi Samuel,
      Thanks for your comment. I am currently working in Kampala and will be at the Micro Credit for Development and Transformation head office for the next week and a half. It is located in Kamwokya. Let me know if you’d like to visit.

      • good!! I’ll stay at kampala from 1st to 6th on march
        I wanna visit and discuss.
        please, let me know the office address and contact number via email
        thank you very much

  2. Hi Nila,
    I am apply for a Kiva Fellows position and picked Uganda as the place to research for my budget. Saw your blog and thought the best way to get accurate info was to go to someone already there (even though you might have left by now). Would you be willing to answer a few questions?
    Best Regards,

  3. Hi Nila,

    I hope this message finds you well !
    I am a French journalist and would like to ask you a few questions if you don’t mind me asking, because I should be heading soon to Zanzibar.
    Could we email each other?
    warm regards

  4. Hi Nila,

    I am a journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya with an interest in the infrastructure/energy sectors in sub Saharan. I am currently working on a feature on the growth of Zanzibar’s port operations and looking out for some photos to illustrate with full credits. I saw one from on ‘Zanzibar from the air’ and I am wondering if you could allow us to use it with full credits in the feature for an upcoming Dredging magazine. Many thanks

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