Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mojitos Against Mosquitoes

By Kathleen Bongiovanni

In July 2011, I had the happy privilege of holding the Uganda Village Project’s first ever Mojitos Against Mosquitoes event- a happy hour cocktail evening focused on raising awareness about UVP, health and development issues in Uganda, the unique issues of malaria prevention and control, and ways that people can become involved by donating time or money toward UVP’s efforts on the ground.

As a member of the Uganda Village Project’s executive board I am always looking for innovative ways to spread the word about UVP, and when our board came up with the idea for a “mojitos against mosquitoes” event several months ago it felt like the perfect time to try out my event planning skills. I live and work in Seattle, WA, and the presence of numerous global health and development organizations here made Seattle the perfect spot for our inaugural Mojitos Against Mosquitoes event. Many hours of planning and a few bumps in the road later (I had to google “procurement form” the first time a donor asked for one) the event came together and was a complete success. My initial idea for a small get together had grown into a fully fledged fundraising event, and was held on July 28th in a private space at the swanky BalMar bar.

Highlights of the evening included two special cocktails- the Mozzie Mojito and Quinine Quencher (with $1 from each drink going to UVP), a fantastic raffle, and a silent auction with 26 amazing prize packages! Thanks to our generous donors, everybody at the event was able to snack on delicious chocolate frozen custard from Peaks Frozen Custard and take home an African cookbook from the Pan African Market!

Speakers included Meg Kilcup, a current UVP trustee who spoke about her time in Uganda as a UVP intern, Dr. Jessica Miller, a scientist working on malaria vaccines at Seattle BioMed, and myself. Jones Mulgulusi from the Washington Basoga Association helped draw the raffle winners, and I was lucky enough to have Andrew Lowe (UVP’s treasurer and my fellow board member) and Bekah Walker (a past UVP intern) on hand to help out throughout the event. Professional photography was provided by White Hawk Images (check out the photos at our new facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Uganda-Village-Project/251880514830749 )

"I’ve worked with a variety of non-profit organizations in the past in the efforts to provide care and education to those most in need. Many organizations have great intentions, but to me, it felt like we were simply putting a band-aid on problems instead of empowering the people to better their own lives and communities. Uganda Village Project does exactly that: empowers the communities that we work with so that even in the absence of UVP volunteers, the community members are educated and equipped to live a life as healthy as possible. For example, UVP strives to educate communities about how to prevent malaria, as well as the right actions to take when symptoms are present (such as go to the healthcare clinic and not the village witch doctor). If we simply offered malaria nets but didn’t empower those in the village to be able to make the right decisions if and when they are sick, we are only temporarily offering one solution and not a sustainable effort to prevent disease and/or mortality from disease."

-- Meg Kilcup, Current UVP trustee and former intern

Mojitos Against Mosquitoes had 75 guests and raised over $3000 for the Uganda Village Project, but I think that the most important outcome of the evening was the opportunity for people to get together and discuss health and development issues while finding out more about the Uganda Village Project. I plan to make Mojitos Against Mosquitoes an annual event, so maybe I’ll see you again this year!

UVP would like to thank the businesses that donated items for the raffle and auction.

The Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Sounders FC
Yuen Lui Photography
The RE-Store
Grand Central Bakery
KiKi Tap and Eatery
Ivars Seafood Restaurants
WATERSHED Science and Engineering
Landmark Theaters
Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour
Sanachi Massage
Peaks Frozen Custard
Green Mountain Coffee
The Seattle Drum School
Cindy at Tigerlily Salon
Pan Africa Restaurant and Bar
Earthly Rituals Spa
Zoka Coffee
Theo Chocolate
Stone Turtle Health
Sticks and Stones
Elements Therapeutic Massage
White Hawk Images
The BalMar (gave us $1 per special cocktail)
Ethan Stowell Restaurants
Wild Root Salon and Spa
Veraci Pizza
Super Jock n Jill
Irwin’s Neighborhood Bakery and Café
Suncadia Resort
Adventura Consulting
Gregg’s Cycle
Urban Kitchen
Washington Basoga Association
Tutta Bella
The Experience Music Project
Café Ladro

Kathleen Bongiovanni serves as a Member at Large with UVP. She works as a Program Manager in the Center for Developmental Therapeutics at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute. She holds a Masters in Genetics and a Masters in International Public Health. Kathleen is passionate about global public health, and is always looking for opportunities to promote evidence based health and development programs and research.

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