Friday, September 28, 2007

ChooseANeed Scholarship Recipient

An update from Matt as he visits Busalamu Secondary School to interview candidates for a full secondary school scholarship provided by our partners at ChooseANeed. He interviewed 4 students who are all in Secondary 1, the Ugandan equivalent of 7th grade.

Sangala Faizo, UVP Scholarship recipient

"All four S1 candidates were present at Busalamu Secondary School. The deputy headmaster was very kind. She helped me find the four students and assemble them under a tree. There are no A Level schools very close. The closest one is Bukoyo Senior Secondary School Day and Boarding and it is still far enough away that the students would have to attend as boarders. This is the information I collected from each student:

Musenze Asuman

1. Favorite subjects: history, geography, chemistry
2. Hobbies: football (soccer)
3. Ranked 33rd out of 110 students in his class for the second term.
4. He intends to go to Bukoyo Senior Secondary School for his A Levels as a boarding student.
5. Hopes to attend university to become a doctor.
6. Both parents passed away when he was young.
7. Has 2 sisters, 1 brother. Asuman is the oldest. His younger siblings are all attending primary school.

Kyotalimye Sauti

1. Favorite subjects: history, chemistry
2. Hobbies: music
3. Ranked 8th out of 110 students last term.
4. Initially said she was planning to go to Wanyanga Girls in Jinja for her A Levels, but quickly changed to Bukoyo Senior Secondary after I mentioned we would like to see our students stay in the district. These students are only in S1, so a lot can change in the 4 years before they are ready to move on to A levels.
5. Hopes to attend university to study to become a caterer.
6. Lost her father, mother is still living
7. Has 3 sisters, 2 brothers. She is the eldest with her siblings in primary school

Nakawoma Moreen

1. Favorite subjects: history, math, netball
2. Hobbies: debating, netball
3. Ranked 6th out of 110 students last term.
4. Intends to study at Bukoyo Senior Secondary as a boarding student for her A Levels
5. Hopes to attend university to study to become a nurse
6. Both parents passed away. Stays with her Aunt.
7. Moreen is the youngest of 3 girls.
1. The first born is currently studying at Makerere. She is being sponsored by members of the family's clan.
2. The second born has already finished Teacher Training College and has a job.

Sangala Faizo

1. Favorite subjects: mathematics
2. Hobbies: debating, revising his books
3. Ranked 10th out of 110 students last term
4. Hopes to study at Iganga High School as a boarding student.
5. Hope to attend university to study to become a doctor.
6. Both parents passed away. Faizo is staying with his step-mother.
7. Faizo is the youngest with 4 brothers and 3 sisters. He is the only child in school and the only person in his family to study as high as secondary school.

I chose Faizo to be sponsored by ChooseAneed because I felt that he stood out in terms of the combination of his need and work ethic. He was very humble and visibly grateful for being sponsored. I didn't have to try to hard to get him to smile for the pictures either. The two girls ranked higher in class, but they seem to have a stronger support network, either through a living parent or through siblings that are currently attending school. Asuman did not rank as high and his siblings are all in school.

I think Faizo's performance in school is exceptional given his family situation. Clearly his older siblings have set a trend amongst themselves for dropping out, but Faizo is taking full advantage of the opportunities given to him through a sponsorship. He also stood out to me when he said that he enjoys revising his books.

I know that school attendance in Uganda is far from satisfactory. Many people do not attend for a large number of different reasons, but I haven't found myself significantly moved or touched by the problem as it has been difficult to put a story behind the faces of the out-of school youth that I pass by on a daily basis. In Nawansaso, the village I lived in, there was a very weak secondary school with drunkards as directors and administrators. The school barely held over 100 students. Of those, many did not seem to care if their teachers did not show up for class and seemed content with paying fees to lounge around in the grass all day, copying notes from each other (many times a teacher would come, write notes on the board, then leave). The somewhat more serious students made attempts to teach themselves. Some of the lucky brighter students managed to attend a better school for the second term, but for the most part, very little learning was going on. We found that the most serious students woke up very early to make the trek or bicycle ride 3 or 4 kilometers away to the nearest secondary school. This school wasn't very strong either, but it was relatively new and seemed more promising.

Faizo at school

Anyways, enough reminiscing, it was a breath of fresh air seeing some of the UVP scholarship recipients ranking amongst the top in their class in a strong and serious secondary school. Faizo is a kid who lost both of his parents, his older siblings have not been in school for years and he has managed to maintain an incredible will to work hard and value his education…working hard enough to rank 10 th in his class. Listening to the words, "I am the only one in my family to study at secondary" come out of his mouth hit me unexpectedly hard as thoughts of anyone in my family not attending high school, or any school for that matter, flashed through my mind before I almost immediately dismissed the thoughts as ridiculous. That unexpected intense moment forced me to put my life in perspective and made me realize how often I take not only my education, but also its quality, for granted. I thought that I had become desensitized to a lot of the scenes of poverty I see each day, but I found myself seeking refuge in my small notebook as I stared blankly down at the paper for a minute trying to collect my thoughts. "

Monday, September 24, 2007

Late September Update, Part 2

Shallow Wells:

1. Last Saturday I went to Idinda with Herbert to choose a site for the well. We selected a site with the community leaders based on their social map and walking around to two of the proposed seven sites. Herbert told them the specific amounts of locally available materials they will need and told them to mobilize the materials at the site.

# Yesterday I went to Kigulamomukidozi with Banuli. Banuli told me about this village as we were moving around to see the goat sheds the previous week. Apparently they have done a community-wide baseline survey and identified lack of pit-latrines and safe water as their primary needs. They are addressing the pit-latrines, but need help with the safe water. Banuli told me Ben has spoken with this village about WaterGuard and possibly other topics before. I'm not sure if Banuli told the community members to come at 1:00, but I showed up at 2:00 to a waiting crowd of at least 100 people. In the ten minutes of introductory speeches, at least another twenty showed up.

1. Kigulamomukidozi, aside from having a difficult name, also has a difficult water situation. The village is relatively large in area, bordering the Busalmu Trading Center. The community members estimated that the village is around 4 km2 with around 300 households.
2. The village has only one borehole. The borehole is located at an extreme end of the village, which, according to the social map they have already made, doesn't even contain a lot of households. When asked why the borehole was placed there, I was told there used to be a church there.
3. Kigulamomukidozi has no open wells or protected springs. Because people have to walk so far to access the only borehole, most resort to taking water from open streams or dirty water sources.
4. These people are SERIOUS. They asked me several times if they hurried, to mobilize the materials, could we work with them before Idinda. I told them we already made a commitment to Idinda, but the reason for such an early meeting is to prepare them so that as soon as Idinda finishes, we can start their well. I hope to go back next Saturday with Herbet to select a site so they can also begin mobilizing materials.
5. Heavy rains interrupted the meeting, but people crammed into the host's house and waited for the torrential rains to subside to elect the Water User Committee. None of the elected members have phones, but Banuli is more than willing to help with the project, so I will work through him.
6. I'm really impressed by Banuli. He is very respected in the community, but he is not really that well off. He lives in one or two rooms at the Busalmu Trading Center. Banuli truly seems like a people's person. He told me he has been elected to his local government position, I think the counselor, uncontested four times straight. He even continued to hand out the scholastic materials Dave brought over as we were leaving. I told him that as we run out of JIDDECO villages for shallow wells, we could use his help in identifying new villages lacking safe water that will be willing to dig, especially if they are as responsive as Kigulamomukidozi.

Pineapples/Fruit Drying

Click here to read the Wikipedia article on Pineapples!

The exposure visit to the fruit-drying project, Patience Pays, in Kayunga went really well. I'll attach what was actually spent on the trip. Miti from the Jinja office came and took loads of video and pictures. I also took some pictures, which I'll send as well. Everyone seemed really interested in the project. Margaret gave a really good speech about being tired of false promises. She urged all members to commit to improving their livelihoods and take advantage of the resources JIDDECO and UVP are providing. Before we left, Miti walked them through establishing a work plan, which involves them going home and sharing the information they learned as well as preparing their land.

The farmers weren't able to see the drying in action. Charles and Jane are expanding their project. They are giving dryers to pineapple farmers under an agreement that the dried fruit produced will be sold to Patience Pays for 3,000/kilo. Then Charles and Jane take it to Jinja and sell at 5,000/kilo.

Matt with a baby pineapple

# Charles is willing to help us find the 150,000 suckers we are proposing to start with. I told him to wait as I wanted to hear from Soleil first. He asked for a 20,000/= per day allowance for his expertise in selecting suckers, which is reasonable. His transport will be covered as he will just move with the vehicle that is hired. He warned against just using the farmers to select the suckers as they may pick their worst ones and keep the best suckers.
# Charles told me that the cheapest suckers go is 20/= and the most expensive ones are 35/=. I revised the cost-benefit analysis for 35/= a sucker just to be safe.

Late September Update

- School Desks Project

I went to WAACHA and spoke with Faruk. The carpentry instructor did not honor the appointment, but Faruk assured me he would take of everything. I gave him pictures of the different styles of desks and asked him to give me an estimate for transporting the desks once complete. I'm waiting to hear from them on the quote.

(Desks at Goodheart Secondary School, a UVP Scholarship partner school)

Goats for Widows Project


1. I have sent the revised Memorandum Of Understanding to THE COORDINATOR (I love how everyone refers to him with his title instead of Mr. Bateeze or something. I feel like we're speaking about a character in the Matrix)
2. Once he okays the new MOU, we can organize for the goat delivery. I'm pretty sure all of the widows are ready, but will confirm before we set a day.


1. Last weekend I moved with Banuli to the four widows' homes. Only one goat shed is complete. Each widow apparently raised 10,000/= to have a man with experience build the sheds. He was away during our visits, but Banuli told me that they would be finished in one week. I saw him yesterday to do a shallow well introduction and he told me that the sheds still need work. He was actually helping them build the sheds and had his finger hit by a hammer. He's got the swollen finger to prove it.
2. I met with Samuel over the Memorandum of Understanding. He reconfirmed that MURUDA can and will meet the commitments stated. He had no qualms with the MOU, so we signed. I also gave him a copy of the goat husbandry training agenda that Margaret came up with for JIDDECO.


1. I can't wait for time when I don't have to talk about this any longer. I showed up at immigration to find the lady in charge of NGOs out for burial. This time I got her phone number, so I will call before I leave to save time and money. I did find out that there is a restaurant in side of immigration. As I was waiting for her, before anyone thought to tell me that she wasn't around, I thought I would have to go into town, eat, and come back. I think this eatery is the best thing the immigration office has going for it. It is the only thing there that saves time and money.

Orphan Scholarships:

1. I met Richard on the 21st. He told me everything will be okay and that they would start paying fees that very day.
2. I got two receipts. One for the monitoring stipend and one for the school fees. I also bought a small blank receipt book for their use when official receipts are not available, i.e. for transport associated with monitoring.
# As far as the other missing students go, Richard says nothing can be done unless they report to ACCOD. For the ones they knew the whereabouts of, they have visited several times without luck. I told him again that this term we are looking for 100% retention, so no more missing students and no new students, and also stressed 100% accountability. Richard agreed. He also assured me that no money will be given directly to students or parents.
# Since I was going to WAACHA to discuss the CAN desks, I told Richard I would handle those school fees.
# At WAACHA, since Noah wasn't around, but I told Faruk to pass on the message of trying to retain students. I told him that if a student disappears before completing his/her course, that slot will not be filled. As students complete their courses, UVP will may or may not consider adding students given the short course durations of 2 years. Faruk supports the policy and agreed to pass on the message. I also requested that, at the end of the third term, they compile an updated list of students and their status in their course and which ones have completed successfully.
# WAACHA tuition is 43,000, so Faruk agreed to work with Hannah the Peace Corps volunteer to see what the balance of 4,000 per student can best be used for.

At the WAACHA office

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Fruit Drying Notes

Fruits of the Nile
Henry and I were given a tour. The man taking us around told us that the pack house is producing about one container a month for export, but the people from the UK could be taking four containers a month, However, when we returned to John, the manager's office he seemed keen on hiding the fact that they are not even close to meeting the demand. He told me that he doesn't want to increase the number of suppliers to the factory because he needs to keep the balance of supply and demand in check.

Training has been done for free, but John said if they are not well off, it can be between $100-$150…I thought I heard him wrong and asked if he meant thousands of shillings, but he said dollars. He made this sound REALLY flexible…from free to astronomically expensive.

# FOTN works through "Primary Producers," who may have a group of surrounding farmers feeding their product through them. According to the study on Successful Supply Chains I sent out, and somewhat confirmed by John, FOTN has not had the best luck working with groups, which is why they focus on their primary producers. FOTN has about 200 primary producers and according to their "trickle down effect" estimates, FOTN is improving the lives of over 10,000 people……
# To become a primary producer, one must apply, specify the number and size of gardens they intend to acquire pineapple and pass standard hygiene requirements. They also prefer primary producers to be near sources of clean water.
# John said that he felt between 6 and 10 dryers would significantly impact a family of five, however, I'm not sure why the number is so high. The more dryers one starts with, the higher the start-up costs. Despite the higher outputs, most farmers don't have very profitable first or second seasons.
# Training covers: "solar fruit drying and how it works, cleanliness and sanitation, personal hygiene, food hygiene, food safety, food handling, practical solar fruit processing, procurement of quality fruits, acceptable transportation, washing, slicing, clean storage environment, food grade packaging, waste management, business records, repairs and maintenance." More on training is outlined in the cost-benefit analysis.
# They keep files on their primary producers containing their training history, conditions of sites, etc. They will make notes in a file when they do site visits, making suggestions on improvements ( i.e. maybe a dryer is too close to the latrine), and then will update the file to see whether the farmer makes the improvements.
# Seasons are unpredictable depending on the rains

Saturday, September 15, 2007

UVP Wins a Google Grant!

You can now look forward to seeing UVP pop up in your searches and your Gmail account ads... we have been awarded a Google Grant for $10,000 per month worth of free Google AdWords advertising.

Google has assigned an AdWords representative to design the campaign and optimize it for us. Thanks to Google for this fabulous opportunity to get the word out about Uganda Village Project and its programs! As a small nonprofit this is an exciting advancement for us, since our all-volunteer staff devotes most of its time towards program administration issues and has little time left for public relations and advertising.

We hope that this grant will help bring like-minded individuals to our website to learn more about our programs in community health and development, and hopefully to get involved with our organization.

More September Updates

More news from Matt, our new program manager/intern, who has spent part of the month visiting and checking up on wells built by UVP.

He also did some research into fruit drying as a potential income generator for rural farmers.

Margaret was in Kiwanyi and Bugole for a different JIDDECO program and enthusiastically told me that most of the widows have completed the requirements, including the one in Kiwanyi that I mentioned who barely had any of the requirements met. She told me that the others came together to help.

The Kimanto well pump had been fixed by the community through the sub-county pump mechanic that the district trains. However, the cement that was cracking slightly when Ben and I visited had worsened. The community tried to build up the cement around the crack and pipe out of the ground, but that only caused more problems. The whole fixture was easily shifted, but was still pumping water. Herbert gave pretty detailed instructions on how to fix the problem to the LC1 and the woman who stays in the nearby home so they wouldn't have to pay for further repairs. Herbert promises to check up on them to make sure it was done properly.

Herbert assured me the other well is okay. He said that the water may change color and smell after heavy rains, but that has to do with the nature of the area's sandy soil. There is nothing that can be done. They must wait for it to clear up for some time after the rains. He said that the water coming out of the sides is caused when there is too much water in the well, which may cause some wear and tear on the parts, but again there is nothing really that can be done. He did say that it is a good indicator that the well should never dry up.

- Visited the Fruits of the Nile factory with Henry and got loads of information and tasty samples.
- Before I type up the lengthy notes from the visit and from speaking with David, I want to continue doing my preliminary research and lay out all of the options in one big report and then move on any questions or further research that may need to be done. This week I'm going to focus on the C-B of getting suckers for the initial planting and a basic C-B of the long-term plan involving support with solar-drying. I was able to get a cost break down on one dryer, which I will include in the report which I hope to send out late this week."

Visiting the fruit drying facilities

Tour of a gas dryer

Meeting with the Widows

From Matt, our new program manager/intern:
Spent most of the day in Kiwanyi with Margaret and Bugole with Kapere inspecting each widow's home. Kiwanyi had incomplete goat sheds and was missing some of the other sanitation requirements. One widow expressed concern that she may not have enough land to accommodate a larger future flock of goats in terms of the grass and legumes. Bugole was a bit better off. All but one goat shed was complete. Hower, Bugole did not have a single tip-tap built aside from a missing requirement here and there, which I found to be strange given that tip-taps are the easiest requirement to meet.

Spent the morning moving to the goat rearing trainings, first to Kiwanyi with Margaret, Monic, and Mr. Mulia. I believe four of the six goat recipients were present at the training, however I will confirm when I get the attendance sheets on Monday. I will also forward the agenda of the trainings next week too. I gave a short speech about how they have done great, but are only lacking the simple sanitation requirements like tip-taps and plate stands and that they shouldn't let those easy requirements keep them from getting their goats when we deliver. Then I observed Monic conduct her first day of training. I didn't understand a word, but the women that were present (not all participants were widows) were very active and curious.

I moved with Basil to see all of the goats we will be buying. He also took me to a man's home who has been involed with Heifer Int. since 1998. The man has educated three of his kids and one is now a police officer. I was really impressed by Basil and the operation. I also got some free goat's milk, which I later shared with Henry's family. It tastes just like cow's milk, but is supposed to have a lot more nutrition. All of the goats the Basil has identified look good as far as I can tell. He told me that standard retail price is around 350,000, but when Heifer buys, it is subsidized down to 200,000. Some goats have just conceived and one is ready to pop any day now. He told me even these goats will be kept within the budget range. Basil is giving us a great deal, I think we should be pretty grateful. He told me usually when other NGOs come to Heifer for goats, they charge between 350,000 and 500,000 depending on the goat, but he likes our widow project and has spoken to his farmers as if it's Heifer buying and they should all be kept within budget. Henry was very excited about the prospect of buying goats that have recently conceived. I think it's a great idea and will speed things along for some of the widows. I proposed giving the one that is ready to conceive soon to the neediest widow and the other pregnant goats to the other more needy widows to give them a head start."

New Program Manager - Meet Matt

Uganda Village Project has a new intern - Matt Putkoski, who took over for the fabulous Ben Krause in August. These updates will help give an idea of what Matt does as the program manager for UVP on a daily basis... he is an integral part of our programs in Uganda, we could not run year-round without him.

Matt is currently applying for college from Uganda after taking two years off to live and work in East Africa. He originally came to Uganda as a volunteer with Students' Partnership Worldwide (SPW), and worked in Jinja with a team of Ugandan and American students on community education and income generation programs. He fell in love with Uganda and was looking for a position so that he could stay and continue community development work. Through Idealist, we connected with Matt, and are extremely excited to have him as our program manager until summer 2008. The beauty of the internet is that a small nonprofit was able to find a qualified and enthusiastic intern already living in rural Uganda - thanks to, which we would recommend to anyone for connecting with others who want to change the world.

Matt meeting with our group of widows in the UVP Goats for Widows program.