Saturday, June 30, 2012

Training Day #2! [Project Progress Report]

She left school because of Sickle Cell Disease. She is always upbeat and so sweet, & brought me yummy avocados!

Learning how to use deworming tools

I just wanted to share photos and details about our last training session with the out of school youth.  I promised that I would keep you all in the loop!

Yesterday I went back to Basanje Parish to meet up the the youth and had the Vet give them more information on how to properly take care of their pig or hen.  Before the session started, the adult facilitators were late so me and Ciara, another USF Sarlo Scholar who came to see what my project was about, got to hang out with them before the training.  Three of the girls went climbing in the trees to grab us a bunch of fruit to munch on in the mean time.  Other one of the girls gave a gift of 3 avocados! I was so grateful for them :)  

During the training they learned about different vitamins, deworming methods, and how to know when your pig is in heat (they got a kick out of that topic)!  After the Vets lesson I passed out the Nails I purchased for them to use when they build their pigsties this week.  They were eager and excited to use them!

I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Would you like to contribute to this project?

Follow this link to donate:
Or push the button below to donate

Be sure to email me with any questions or you can comment below.

Thank you!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Time to meet the youth! [Project Progress Report]

I’m blogging today to update you on the progress of my development project!  Everything is moving along great and I have been receiving so much positive feedback from everyone back at home.  That really makes what I’m doing feel so much greater, to know that I have people 9,301 miles away supporting my work.

So, this week I finally got to meet the out of school youth that I will be working with! I was nervous at first to meet them because as an outsider I didn’t know how they would respond to me or my idea, because after all it is ultimately up to them if they want to work with me or not.  I learned that 6 of them are Muslim so instead of raising pigs, I will purchase hens for them to keep!  I’m excited for this addition and glad that we are able to accommodate for other religious faiths.

At this meeting I started it by asking the same questions that I asked the community leaders and community facilitators the previous week.  At first they were shy and needed some encouragement to answer these questions, but once their peers started to contribute, the atmosphere opened up and they felt more comfortable.  All in all, the answers they provided about the problems they faced and the reasons why they left school were the same as the answers of the community facilitators.  Reasons being lack of school fee’s, no parents to support them, not enough jobs, and lack of skills. 

When I asked them what current activities they were involved in is when I actually got to hear from their mouths, the life of an out of school child in Uganda.  One boy shared that he fetches water for money and each time he makes 2,000 shillings ($.80) but he doesn’t do it everyday because he can’t always find work.  Another boy said that he cares after other people’s cattle and makes 10,000 shillings ($4.00) a month.  His friend next to him raised his hand and said that he takes after sheep and makes 5,000 shillings ($2.00) a month.  As the interpreter whispered this in my ear I had to hold back my facial expressions of disbelief, but I honestly couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Even in Ugandan currency, making this amount of money is next to nothing. 

I then asked how an income generating activity could assist them and they eagerly raised their hands.  One said that if he is given pigs, he could buy soap, have clean clothes, and even buy sugar!  When he said sugar the group including him laughed.  But when you think about it, this 17-year-old boy was looking forward to buying basic necessities. Nothing extravagant like most 17 year olds we know would have on their wish lists, he just wanted soap, clean clothes, and sugar. Other kids were even thinking farther and BIGGER than I was!  They shared that with the money they were raising; they would use it for vocational school fees or hair dressing lessons.  This income generating activity can give them a foundation for their future careers!  When I heard that I felt so happy and proud. 1 – because they were reaching far beyond a piggery and 2 – because they dreamed up ideas that I hadn’t even thought of!

Today we had another meeting where an agriculturist and farming expert from Kitovu Mobile came in and taught the kids about basic piggery and chicken rearing.  The youth were eagerly taking notes, asking questions, and engaging with the instructor during the whole lesson.  Even Professor Moreno was in attendance all the way from San Francisco! I was glad he was able to sit in and see what I was doing here in Uganda.  After the session he told me that even though he was raised in the countryside in El Salvador with many pigs, he learned more today than he had growing up.  The youth were happy to see him and cheered for him many times, even asked him when he planned on coming back to the motherland!

Tomorrow I will meet with them again for another training session and will distribute nails for them to use when building their pigsties.  They will provide all other materials needed to build the pigsty's and all materials can be found locally at very low costs, they can even find some materials in their own back yards!   This cost sharing gives them the opportunity to contribute to the project to create mutual ownership and pride in their new endeavor. 

This week has been great and again I couldn’t have done it with out the support of people back home!  You guys give me extra motivation everyday and I’m always sure to remind the youth that they have people back in the US rooting for their success.

Special shout outs to:
Professor Griffis
Professor Huxley
Robbyn Ayala
Lara Sidhu
Jessica Lovingood 
Melissa Barnett 
Camille Watts 
Lyndon Regalado
Manuela Vasconcelos 
My Mom
And Nicole Keenan who is SO freaking amazing and left me speechless!!

They helped me raise 465!!

Follow this link to donate:
Or push the button below to donate

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Kabonera Sub-County Needs You!! [Project Progress Report]

Hey guys!

Today was a great day for me and my development project.  I finally got to meet and sit down with counselors, community leaders, and community facilitators in the Kabonera Sub-County in Masaka District.  Some of these people have been trained by Kitovu to become community leaders and work with people in their area who have been both infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, including out of school students.  The reason it was such a good day is because I was able to have conversations (through a Lugandan translator) with them and hear first hand what they felt the problems were and possible solutions.  We had a group discussion focused around four questions that I asked them.  

The questions were:
"What are some of the biggest problems that out of school children face?"
"What are some of the reasons they are forced to leave school?"
"What activities are they currently involved in?"
"How can an income generating activity be beneficial to them?"

As they answered my questions, they were all passionate and it was clear they truely cared about the well being of these youths and were saddened by their current conditions.  Problems they brought up were that children were forced into dangerous child labor, in many cases no jobs were available for them, had poor relationships with their parents, lacked scholastic essentials to stay in school, and lacked vocational and life skills.  Many families are also so impoverished that youth must leave school to bring in additional income.  
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The main youth counselor shared that in Kabonera Sub-County 75% of the population is youth under 20 and only 35% of those youth are in school.  Some suggestions I was given was to engage youth in life skills workshops or create jobs for them.  When I asked how an IGA could help with these issues they said that it would help to change their negative behaviors and give them a positive outlook, reduce crime rate, and help them contribute to their families and communities. 

While the meeting was going on, I would often look out the window and see children pushing barrels and fetching water barefoot.  I was seeing first hand a couple yards away the problems we were discussing.  

After the discussion, Rose, a Kitovu Mobile Counselor and I finally dropped the bomb on our plans for the piggery.  They were so happy and started cheering.  When I saw their reactions it all became real and right then I knew that I couldn't let them down.  I became excited to start but also nervous because of all the lives that it would be affecting.  So now I am turning that nervousness into motivation to push forward and do the people of Kabonera justice with this income generating piggery.  

I thanked them for all that I learned from them and told them I was so excited to work with them and the youth.  Can't wait to see them again on Wednesday!

Please if you can, donate to this development project to help the out of school youth of Kabonera Sub-County.  We need extra funds to ensure that this start up is sustainable and lasts long after I leave Masaka.  Any contribution goes a VERY long way!

Follow this link to donate:
Or push the button below to donate

Be sure to email me with any questions or you can comment below.

Thank you!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Uplifting Ugandan Out of School Youth through Income Generating Activities

I’m now ready to give you all more information on my summer project here in Uganda. At Kitovu Mobile I am working with the Counseling and Training department who also deals with Orphans and OVC (Other Venerable Children). Preparing this project has been a long and hard process of getting work plans and budgets approved and working with my organization to make sure that the idea is sustainable and maintainable for these out of school children. 

So here it is! I will be implementing an income generating activity at the Bisanje Parish in Kabonera Sub-County of Masaka District.  This project will work with youth who have been either infected of affected by HIV/AIDS.  They have been forced to leave school either to tend to ill family members or to work to make up for extra health expenses and generate income for their families if the head of household can no longer work.  Unfortunately, many times these youth are forced into dangerous labor making very little money.  With this IGA it is my hope that these same youth will be able to become experts in a highly profitable field where they will be able to contribute to their families, communities, and gain a sense of pride and ownership.  Kitovu Mobile and I will be working with 25 out of school youths and community leaders and will train them in pig rearing and supply them with there own pig to get started!  We have decided on pigs because they reproduce fast and in large numbers, are sold as the most expensive meat on the market, and are easily maintainable for the youth.  Because of my initial funds, two participants will start this project by sharing a pig and housing a pigsty (locally built) at one of their homes.  In training sessions they will learn how to take after a pig, feeding and de-warming, and also business and teamwork skills to ensure that their new enterprise is long lasting and reputable. 

I am so excited to get started on this project and see how these youths take advantage of this opportunity! I will be sure to spend my last 5 weeks here monitoring this project and working closely with the participants to ensure that they feel connected and supported.  However, this is costly and that’s where YOU come in!  I would LOVE LOVE LOVE for you to donate anything you can to help these youths start out their piggery.  Any amount helps and being on the ground first hand, I can assure you that your money will be well spent and 100% of it will go towards the main goal.  Along the way I will be updating this blog on the progress of the project with reports and photos so you can see how your donations are being used.  Kitovu, the out of school youth, and I would greatly appreciate anything you have to offer. Thank you so much!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Queen Elizabeth National Park + Malaria

This past weekend, a few of the other interns and I took a 4 hour bus ride to Queen Elizabeth National Park!  I didn’t actually know where we were going until I met up with the other interns, I just agreed to join them on a safari last minute.  Regardless, we had a great time.  We arrived in an even smaller town than Masaka in Western Uganda then hired a driver to take us to the city of Katwe.  When we got there we were so shocked to see how different the landscape of Western Uganda is compared to the region that we live in. The air was different, the landscape, and most notably to me the color of the sand lol.  We arrived and met up with Ouma and Thomas, our safari guides who work for USAID we randomly heard about through a girl in Kampala the weekend before.  They were really cool and showed us to the hostel we would be staying at.  So this hostel was… lets just say…very local.  The rooms were nothing like the Mzungu hostels we usually stay at but I guess its cool to say we experienced it right? Ciara and me shared a teeny bed but only had to pay 10,000 shillings (4 bucks) a night! So I would say it was worth it.  That night we got food then decided to pay boda boda drivers to chase after hippos in the river for 5,000 shillings.  It was one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever done and now looking back, it could have been veryyyy dangerous had there been a baby hippo and an angry hippo mama around but all ended well.  All of us interns had a blast doing it and loved how, “Chasing hippos on boda boda” sounded haha.
The next morning at 6:20 am we met up with Ouma and Thomas to take us on the Safari.  I know the pictures can speak more to the experience, but let me say it felt so unreal to be sitting on top of a moving van, in Africa, trekking for wild animals. After the safari ride we took a safari boat ride where we got to see even more animals.  My favorites were the Elephants for sure.  Definitely a day I won’t forget :). Thanks to my Mom who forced me to go on this trip and sent me some extra money to do it! I really appreciate it!

Yo girl got malaria. Yup, again. And don’t ask me how because I have no idea.  While at Queen Elizabeth I felt very sick and even had a fever.  I went to a local clinic in Katwe to get medicine but by the time I was home on Sunday I knew something was wrong.  My host mom took me to the hospital Sunday night and the doctors told me that I would need to say over night.  For the time I was there I had blood work done, injections, and was hooked up to 4 IV drips.  And to make matters worse, I had to stay an extra night.  While I was lying in the hospital and in between crying and almost vomiting, I did a lot of wall watching and thinking.  Something I noticed while wall watching is that every time ants pass one another; they always stop and greet whomever they pass. Humans should be more like ants.  What I was thinking about was, my sucky situation of being suck in a Ugandan hospital with no one telling me what’s being injected into my body and how grateful I am for the people in my life.  My host Mom stayed by my side the whole time and did everything in her power to make me comfortable and happy.  She just met me 5 weeks ago and was treating me as if I was one of her own.  I was also thinking about my real Mom back home, she stayed in constant contact with me the whole time and called who ever she could to make sure I would be all right.  She does worry a lot so I felt bad that I was so far away and she had absolutely no control over the situation. My Dad helped me to stay calm and made me realize that my health really does come first.  He got pissed when I told him I was mad I was in the hospital because I would be missing work haha. Anyway, I’m glad that I am well enough to write this without feeling the need to vomit.  Thank you to everyone for your prayers and well wishes!