Sunday, December 14, 2008

Online Gift Store Now Open!

Come visit our newly created Online Gift Store!

Please spread the word by linking to our store...
All proceeds go towards our programs in Uganda.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bhudebero well complete

The Bhudebero well is now commissioned and pumping water! Here are some photos from our program manager, Kristen.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

2009 volunteer programs now open!

Greetings all!

Uganda Village Project is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the 2009 summer volunteer program. The deadline for application is January 31st, 2009. Please have a look at the guidelines for application, project overview, and application form here:

If you have any questions, please leave a comment or get in touch with us by

We look forward to receiving your application!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December 1, 2008: World AIDS Day

The country of Uganda was highlighted in the 2008 UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report. Related information from the document can be found below:

"It is important to note yet again that the epicenter of the epidemic remains in sub-Saharan Africa. Two-thirds of all people living with HIV are African. Three-quarters of the deaths in 2007 were in Africa. And if 100 random adults in sub-Saharan Africa were tested, the average number of those found to be HIVpositive would be five(UNAIDS, 2008)...

...With the estimated number of people living with HIV so high a pressing concern today is whether donors and countries will continue to support a wide range of initiatives against AIDS that would sustain and build upon past successes. If funding is in doubt, how will treatment programmes stay ahead of the growing demand for antiretroviral therapies? If funding is cut, where will the support come for a host of invigorated prevention initiatives? The answers will affect millions of lives...

66% of all people living with HIV are in sub-saharan Africa
75% of HIV related deaths were in sub-saharan africa

...Uganda’s “modes of transmission” analysis showed that approximately 43% of new HIV infections were estimated to be occurring among “low-risk” couples in which one partner was HIV positive and the other negative. An estimated 44% of the infections came from those who have multiple sex partners, including their regular partners, and about 11% were related to sex work. These findings underscored the need to focus prevention efforts at people in marriages or long-term relationships. Such prevention strategies would include promoting couples counselling and testing, in which both reveal their HIV status; efforts to reduce the number of sexual partners; and emphasizing consistent condom use for couples that are discordant—one HIV positive, one HIV negative—along with access to HIV treatment for the positive partner (Government of Uganda, 2008).

“We found in Uganda that we should really monitor new infections and focus our response among the people who are seemingly in long-term, monogamous relationships,” said Professor Fred Wabwire-Mangen, the team leader of the Uganda modes of transmission study and an associate professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the Makerere University School of Public Health in Kampala. “A number of things are happening with those couples in longstanding relationships. First, they don't use condoms. Second, they do not test as much. We need to encourage them to test—and not only to test, but also to disclose to their partner.” Now, said Wabwire-Mangen, Ugandan policymakers will take the results and examine whether current programmes match the spread of the epidemic, in order to check if they are spending money in areas that desperately need interventions.

“You ask yourself, ‘Are we putting the resources in the right place? Are we putting resources where the infections are occurring?’ The study should tell you whether you are on course,” he said. “The challenge for our countries is to prevent new infections, as well as to provide treatment, care and support, and to reintegrate HIV-positive people in the economic and social activities.”


The entire USAIDS World AIDS Day report can be found at

Monday, December 1, 2008

Scholarship Recipient Announced!

Josephine Nakalimo is the lucky recipient of UVP's first University level scholarship, sponsored by our partners at ChooseANeed. Josephine is 17 years old and is an orphan who lives with her older sister. Josephine has been receiving support from UVP, which allowed her to attend Iganga Progressive Academy. She is looking forward to attend University and she is interested in studying accounting and finance. She hopes to be able to work in a bank after her studies. She also would like to work for the Uganda Revenue Authority to help eradicate corruption and to make sure that all people pay taxes. She is a very determined young girl who understands the importance of education. She prides herself on her ability to be patient yet courageous, as demonstrated by her academic success despite having many obstacles such as the death of her parents, sickness, and living in poverty.

Visit our website to find out more about how you can help sponsor orphans going to school in Iganga...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Update 11/24 From Uganda

The well at Bhudebero and the new pump in action

Goats: Our Goats For Widows project veterinarian, Basil, went and did the training with the MURUDA goats. I propose to bring him on as Goat Project Coordinator. I think the number one thing that the Goats For Widows project needs is routine follow up. Basil will check up on both of our goat groups once a month. I think at the end of one year the widows will have a better idea of nutrition for the goats and they will also be to the point at which they can begin selling goats to pay for such things like nails, grass, and medications which we have been paying for so far. The cost would be 720,000USh per year, or about $425.00.

Wells: The pump is purchased and working!! The community was really excited about this; seeing how incredibly wet this wet season has been, it was getting very difficult to dig for them. Patrick and I are going to meet with new community within the week, I will let you all know how that goes. As for the water report I am still fighting with the DWO to get my hands on it. Last week I spent a total of 5 hours at that office just waiting. I now have Patrick also on the case.

Fistula: I met with Dr. Glyn last week. Unfortunately they had over 90 patients, and only time to do 30 repairs. Many of our women have been sent home and told to return to Kitovu for a 3 week repair camp starting Jan 11th or to return to Kamuli March 16th. Since they have been getting so many patients lately, they proposed that we not do much mobilizing for the March and Jan camps but just focus on the women we have who need repair. But then in summer 2009, they said that perhaps seeing that we have many volunteers that for that camp they will only repair UVP women. I thought this was great.

They have also asked us to help with pre-operation questions with the women. Dr. Glyn was telling me they waste a lot of time getting this info while at the hospital. Since we spend time with many of the women we bring, either on transport on the way or at the health centers during the screening, it will be easy for us to get this information. The helpful follow up that they would like is information regarding if the women are leaking, if so have they followed the post-op instructions?

Desks: I am giving WAACHA 700,000ush to go and buy wood to start building the desks for the secondary school funded by ChooseANeed. The final price is 45,000ush per desk. So we are able to make 36 desks.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

UVP Alumna Creates Art Show to Raise Fistula Awareness

One of our summer volunteers from 2008, Archana Jayakumar, has showcased her artistic talents in a gallery show at the University of Buffalo Visual Studies Gallery that highlighted obstetric fistula and other health issues she learned about in rural Uganda. She used this opportunity to educate others about the plight of Ugandan women who suffer a lifelong injury from obstetric fistula. As Archana learned this summer, obstetric fistula is a curable condition that results from obstruction of labor, and may cause a woman to become an outcast from her family and from her community. Unfortunately, obstetric fistula is all too common in Uganda, where travel from the villages presents a financial and geographic barrier to obtaining C-sections when the emergent need arises. The curative surgeries that UVP facilitates allow women to lead normal lives again. Thank you, Archana, for spreading the word about women's health in Uganda, and also about Uganda Village Project.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

2008 Summer Recap

Hello friends of UVP!

We apologize that it has been so long since our last update, but rest assured, a lot has been going on, and we can’t wait to tell you all about it! Firstly, let me introduce myself: my name is Kristen Shuken, and I am the new Program Manager for UVP. I am so happy to be working with this organization, and I really want to thank Matt for doing such an awesome job here in Uganda - setting things up for the summer teams and for me to take over.

Speaking of the summer teams, well, let me start there. This summer we had some amazing volunteers from all over the US. Arriving here early June, they took on some daunting tasks. We had four teams this year: Orphan Support, Safe Water, Healthcare, and Obstetric Fistula. Since they did so much work and I cant possible tell you everything, I will just provide some examples of their accomplishments.

Orphan Support:
- Made school payments for 95 students;
- Received pictures and letters from 91 students;
- Coordinated summer camp for students; and
- Conducted a review of all local universities for students hoping to continue studies.

Safe Water:
- Designed a new promotion presentation;
- Sold a total of 183 bottles and 12 tablets of WaterGuard; and
- Surveyed 276 households on their health and sanitation practices.

- Trained eye care community health workers to diagnose trachoma’s and cataracts;
- Developed a preliminary budget for a preventative dental clinic;
- Created a protocol manual for a pharmacy at the Ibulanku Health Center; and
- Conducted a baseline evaluation of the nutrition program at Ibulanku Health Center.

Obstetric Fistula
- Accompanied 15 women to Kamuli Hospital for fistula repair;
- Conducted outreaches in over ten villages, educating the public about fistula and working to remove stigma attached to the condition;
- Began school outreaches to create more awareness of the condition; and
- Organized and ran workshops with Traditional Birth Attendants and Local Counselors.

The summer teams this year were truly an amazing group of people! To all of the volunteers, I want to send a big thank you on behalf of UVP for helping us work towards our goals and sustainable development here in Iganga District.

A new project introduced by David Dinh, a volunteer from 2005 as well as our current treasure, also took place this summer. He is using the traditional clay pots and inserting a plastic water tap into them to better ensure water quality. This project has made a running start and continues to truly prove to be almost revolutionary in the villages. Starting with only 50 pilot pots in the parish of Kalalu has proved incredibly successful, and now we are working on manufacturing more of the pots within Iganga town. Our hopes are that with the use of the tap and the new modified pot it will reduce the recontamination of water within the homes.

The shallow well project is still going on strong. This summer we were able to accomplish four new wells in the Parish of Kalalu. Our good friends the Long family, whom also blessed us with a visit mid-July, made this possible. The Long family and some friends came and checked out our projects here in Uganda. It was great to be able to show off all of UVP’s good work. Creating these four wells in only two months taught us some valuable lessons about what we want to change in the following wells. For example, we have learned more on required depths and have thought about getting a water pump to help when digging below the water level.

We were also lucky this summer to be visited by a film crew from Santa Monica, California. Mark, Brian, and Greg came out here with a real vision on helping UVP’s work get out to the masses back stateside. Armed with two cameras, they spent a full week interviewing volunteers, following me around visiting our projects, and talking to the communities that had benefited from our projects. It was once again great fun to show off UVP, and I am so excited to see through the magic of editing what comes out of all of their tireless efforts. So, stay tuned to see a professional short film on UVP coming soon!

The film crew at work in Uganda

Of course all of these visitors couldn’t stay forever. The volunteers left at the end of July along with the Longs and the film crew leaving me in Uganda to keep their entire great work going.

However, it wasn’t long until UVP had another set of visitors, the Vassar Uganda Project. This team of Emergency Medical Technicians from Vassar College came with a laundry list of goals and objectives. Here are just a few:

1) Education. Educating the public of Iganga about various aspects of personal health care. Potential subjects are: CPR/first aid, proper hygiene, blood borne pathogens, and disease transmission.
2) Prevention. Preventative projects will focus on preventing the following conditions: Malaria, malnutrition, and death or injury due to lack of trained health-care providers.
3) Treatment. Provide supplies to local health care professionals, and fund the treatment for those individuals selected by the project (to be discussed in the sections hereafter). We hope to work in limited capacities with local health care professionals to learn from their experience and expertise, form a long-term relationship with them, and assess supply needs for an anticipated continued relationship.

As you all may know, once on the ground to implement a project, sometimes goals and objectives are reevaluated, and they develop into even larger projects. Such was the case for the Vassar Uganda Project. Once here, the Vassar team realized the dire need for an Emergency Response System. Therefore after meeting with the District Health Offices they began the gargantuan task of rehabilitating the Emergency Response System here in Iganga. To develop this system, they are hoping to form a partnership with Iganga District Health in which they are both responsible for aspects of the program. Now, the Vassar team is back in the US, but we are excited for their return to Uganda hopefully in January.

Now with these visitors gone, I have had time to focus on some of the more administrative aspects of UVP. We are close to being registered as a NGO in Uganda, thanks to Alison in the US as well. I have begun evaluating all of our wells with the help of Patrick, and I must say the feedback from the community is really great. I will write more about that when it is all completed.

We have also made our yearly change in UVP officers and Board members, and we are happy to welcome the new additions to UVP. Thank you to those that have resigned from their posts, as you all did a great job!

Well, I think that’s enough for now. If anyone would like more information about our projects this summer or anything else about UVP, please write. We will do our best to respond to you in a timely manner.

Thank you for all your support.

Tubonagane!! (See you!!)

Kristen Shuken

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

June Update

Summer Projects in Full Swing!
Report from Matt and Kristen:

1. Obstetric Fistula: This team seems to be getting started just great. William and Jen the coordinators are a good team and compliment each other quite well. They have gotten comfortable in Namungalwe and have taken a lot of initiative on their own. The whole team met with Dr. Waiswa and they asked really great questions and they obviously will be working very closely with him. They are planning a workshop on fistula with the clinic staff at Namungaluwe in the near future. They are also planning to go to Engender Health in the next week for a field trip. Julius, the Ugandan vol, has been a great help showing a lot of motivation and initiative as well. All the International vols are definitely bonding quickly and seem to be having a great time. Dr, Waiswa is set to go to Namungalwe on Monday to have a meeting regarding the brainstorming for capacity building for the fistula services.

2. Safe Water: Definitely the most village of the sites. They seem to be very happy. Kate the coordinator has been great, just putting herself out there and getting straight to work and being a fantastic leader. Kate has met with Reverend and Mr. Mugya on several occasions and has really planned out almost every day for the next 2 months. Right now they have begun their house-to-house survey. In addition to the sanitation questions, they have added malaria questions which we have borrowed from the Soft Power Health questionnaire. Evan, Abhijeet, and Latoya seem to be bonding well as a team and are really enjoying their work so far. They all came to watch me present the Shallow Well agreement to 3 villages with Reverend and they all wanted to take a role in the shallow wells being prepared for the Long family's visit. I just want to reiterate how well Kate has seemed to run with her project. I rarely hear from her and when I call to check in she really seems like she has a great grasp on everything. I am trying to organize a meeting with her and Rebecca from PSI sometime next week. Also, as far as the shallow wells go, we have made 2 attempts to meet with the villages in Kalalu. When I went, only 1 village showed up in force (the 1 where the meeting was held). Kristen went back and talked to a second village. She feels one of the other villages poorly represented for a second time should have their own meeting as the village is far, which is probably why they haven't really showed to any of the meetings. We're planning for Balidawa to hit the first village sometime next week to start the work. The shallow well in Bubbondo began on Friday and is making good progress.

3. Health care: Jon is a great leader. After a false positive of malaria, and 2 full days of sleeping and getting over whatever bug he did have, he is back at site and getting his team going. Jon has planned a very thorough schedule for the next 2 months. This team is still incomplete and waiting for their final team member Meg to arrive this Thursday. Their housing is really nice.

4. Orphan Support: Pamela at ACCOD has been a great help and the team is very busy paying school fees as we speak. Sarah understands the goals and objectives very well and feels very capable of accomplishing all of them. They are staying in town at the guesthouse and are very happy with their accommodation. Stephanie bought a football and has made friends with I think almost all the kids on that side of town. Maureen and Mary just got in yesterday and they are all getting on well. Yesterday they spent some time at WAACHA as well and were really impressed with all the different aspects of that organization. They've also moved with Pamela to some of the further schools in ACCOD's vehicle. Their plan is to knock out most of the school fee payments this week and then go back through the schools and spend more time with the students. Also, Sarah and her team visited the 2 potential university scholarship recipients. They talked to them at length and are planning to visit a couple of universities to work out prices and other issues like starting dates, etc.

The shallow wells we are preparing for the Longs are coming along. We have sited one and will be siting another in the beginning of next week. I did my first well presentation by myself and I think it went quite well. Matt has been great showing me the ropes around here, and I am feeling very comfortable and capable to take over when he leaves.

For the shallow wells, Kisimba Buliga is finished. The commissioning ceremony was on June 11th.

Also, William from the Fistula team has requested 200,000ush for a 30min radio spot to raise fistula awareness. I told him to figure out how much time he thought he would need to get his point across and to also see if there are any other organizations that would want to split the cost and time with them. This would be a good way to reach a lot of people it is on a very popular local radio station that a lot a people listen to.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

May Update

Summer Project Preparation Notes from Matt:

I have interacted with the Namungalwe H/C III staff a couple of times on quick visits. Hannah has praised their staff and my first impressions agree with her. The Peace Corps volunteer, Hannah, had also talked to me about the shortage in staff at the health center. She said that even if they have VCT kits there are never enough trained staff for counselling. I talked to Gregory and the In-charge of that health Sub-district, Charles Waiswa, and they both said it is a growing issue that is resulting in people not getting tested.

Eye Clinic:
Othieno James, our ophthalmologist contact, quoted an appropriately sized generator at 300,000. Based on the previous notes (I recently sent out newer ones as well) and what our plan is, we will post this as a need on ChooseANeed.

Safe Water:
Reverend has been fixing up his nephew's home, which is very close to his home. Kristen and I will make a final visit this week.

Dental Clinic:
Tim is preparing for the arrival of the summer team to work on the dental clinic at People and Development Initiatives. Kristen and I will meet with Sula and the Project Coordinator sometime during their first week.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obstetric Fistula - Survivors and Stories

Friends and supporters:

Here are some amazing illustrations of the issue of obstetric fistula in Uganda. Obstetric fistula is a problem we are not very familiar with in industrialized countries. You have got to see this link!

Bringing fistula stories to life - fistula survivors on video in Uganda at one of the referral hospitals in Kamuli where we send women for surgery. We have sent 19 women for repair so far and hope to send 20 more by the end of the year.

Here is another link, pulled from a feature story in one of the major Ugandan newspapers, to read more on why this issue is so important.

April Update from the field


1. There were several active JIDDECO farmers who attended the exposure visit who have approached me and asked UVP to assist them. I think they have 5 farmers organized with each of them looking for assistance for suckers for 1 acre. I told them I couldn't guarantee anything, but ONLY those who have taken initiative on their own after the exposure visit would have the chance of working with us on the project. This is 50,000 suckers at 50/= each. 2,500,000/= or $1,500. The farmers have agreed to organize all aspects of the implementation, including sensitizing other community members in their respective villages to be prepared to receive suckers that are passed on, and cover all transport costs.
2. I have made no commitments to either group (A2N or these active JIDDECO farmers), so whichever way we decide to move with this is okay. We know the JIDDECO farmers better, but on the other hand, I'm concerned about implementing before having full organizational support from JIDDECO.


1. Mid-March I sent a letter reminding the group that they agreed to pay at the end of March.
2. Catherine was out of the village, but returned Wednesday and promised to set things straight. I called her and she said that so far 4 people have paid for a total of 70,000 and that she banked that money. She told me that she will work this week and weekend to mobilize others to pay.

Orphan Scholarships:

1. I gave Richard a top-up of 1,300,000 for school fees/registration.
2. He told me the payments and receipts will be finalized tomorrow and that I can come to pick them.

Shallow Wells:

1. There were problems with the cement finishing cracking because the village mason did not use the correct ratio of cement to water. I want this to be fixed before we plan the commissioning ceremony. The District also supplied the wrong pump handles. We were given heavy handles meant for deep boreholes. This, combined with the wrong cement ratios, has caused the pedestal to become loose. I am hoping to meet with Herbert this week to sort out the problem. The village mason was not supervised and the district made this mistake, so I'm going to try and get them to bear the costs of fixing it.

2. The shallow well in Lukunhu B of Bukanga is basically finished. I want Herbert to change the handle before we have the same problem here as in Bugole.

3. I visited Kalalu to site wells for our donors this summer. Ben, you were right, Kalalu is BADLY off with water. Reverend had 6 sites in mind and they all qualify for a well, so it should be no problem keeping them busy this summer!

4. The existing well in Kalalu also had problems with the pedestal becoming loose. Kimanto also had this problem when you were here, Ben. I drilled Herbert about this and he said maybe they have to redesign the way the slab is cast if it is not the finishing that is the problem. He wants to schedule a time to move to all of the wells ascertain the problem.

5. Patrick has done amazingly well with the Butakanira job. He made daily trips to the village with 2 bags of cement. Patrick truly enjoys this project! He is getting a village called Kiringa ready next.

6. In the last update, I mentioned we found a new mason named Awali. Well, Balidawa hurt himself at Lukunhu and sent a different mason he knew to Butakanira. This mason he found seems to do good work. Balidawa showed up on site a few days after construction began and supervised the work. Balidawa is organizing the payment of this guy, so it won't be any cost to us. Patrick recommended using this guy on his own well, but as soon as he they reach the technical parts involving the hard core, Balidawa should be brought to that site for one day to ensure the work is done right.

7. As for digging in the dry season only, Herbert said this would be best unless we are willing to either rent or buy our own pumps during the wet season so there is no excuse for communities to stop digging. A pump costs 5,000 a day and we would have the communities contribute fuel. To buy, a pump goes for 600,000/=.

Microfinance/ Kiva Connections:

1. I visited several of the bigger microfinance institutions in Iganga to talk to them about networking with Kiva.
2. I think, based on the initial information I got, Finance Trust Uganda seemed to be the best one. I talked with them at length about Kiva. The manager was not around at the time. I hope to follow-up the next time I go through there.

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!