Friday, March 14, 2008

A Letter from Matt, Program Manager

Hello UVP supporters!

You may have noticed fewer entries in the blog lately – this is simply due to being busy because a lot has been happening!

I was in the States for 3 weeks in January and while there, I was fortunate enough to attend the annual UVP Officers' meeting. It was a very productive meeting to say the least. We discussed the coming year as well as laid out the basics for an ambitious and exciting 5 year plan, which involves UVP growing and doing much more of the great work that has been getting done since the founding. The team in the States has already begun to take action towards the long-term objectives of this plan.

Coming off the momentum from that meeting, I came back to Uganda to continue pushing our projects ahead. Since January, the school fees of our scholarship recipients have been paid. Registration fees have also been covered for those students wishing to attend upper-secondary school.

A shallow well has been completed in a village called Bugole in partnership with JIDDECO and the District Water Office. Bugole is actually the first village to utilize the parts UVP received from the District in a deal recently signed with the goal of finishing at least 10 shallow wells this year! Yes, the Iganga District Local Government has supplied us with parts for 10 shallow wells, which will allow us to complete almost twice as many with the amount it usually costs to complete one. This partnership was solidified at just the right time as 6 more villages (and counting) are lined up to participate in the program. The students of Fox Chapel Area High School in Pittsburgh, PA raised money during the Christmas season to completely fund a shallow well in a village called Lukunhu, which should be finished in the next week.

Population Services International (PSI) of Uganda was going to roll out the Rural Empowerment and Action for Communities (REACt) program (their CBO partnership program for the distribution of WaterGuard, Trust condoms, and mosquito nets) in twenty new districts with Iganga included, but they were able to roll the program out nationwide instead! Under the REACt program, up to 5 CBOs/NGOs operating in Iganga that UVP helped to identify will benefit from this program through trainings, promotional materials, and operational support.

UVP is now in closer contact with the Uganda branch of Sight Savers International and is hoping to help SSI's coverage in Iganga become more comprehensive. We will be helping them identify nurses and clinical officers to be sent for trainings, which will increase the number of trained staff capable of carrying out basic screenings. After cases needing surgery have been identified, SSI will come in and perform free sight restoring surgery! We also hope to assist trained screeners in forming a referral network, so resources can be more efficiently utilized when mobilizing for these surgeries.

UVP has also been busy organizing for the 2008 summer projects. The recruitment process in the US is winding down as the final teams are being oriented for their departure to the Pearl of Africa. I have been doing some of the groundwork for them here in Uganda. This year, UVP will host a healthcare/dental clinic establishment project with our partner PADI at the Ibulanku Health Center. We will also be running an intensive safe water project, slated for the village of Kalalu, a fistula awareness project in Namungalwe, as well as our annual summer secondary school scholarship project.

For those of you who have been reading the past entries, you may be happy to read that I am finally a legal resident of Uganda. After many months and visits to the immigration office, I finally have a work permit that will see me through the end of stay in July.

One of the goats in Bugole, one of 2 villages participating in our "Goats for Widows" program, just gave birth to 2 very beautiful baby twins; a boy and a girl. The lucky widow is going to raise the baby goats to 9 months, sell off the male goat and pass on the female to another widow in the group.

I've got to run now, but if any of you are particularly interested in the status of a certain project, please feel free to email me with questions! Thank you for your interest and continuing to support UVP!