3 New Homes, Water & Solar Systems completed, 600 attend community seminar, and more

Greetings from Uganda Rural Fund!

I hope you are doing well. I recently returned from Uganda. It was great to be with family and also see all the progress with the projects. I was able to meet some local leaders, the teachers at Hope, staff, parents, talked to students and sat in some of the classes. You can read through the brief updates about our programs below.

Community Empowerment Seminar a success – 600 people attended:
The 2 day seminar involved talks on AIDS, health care, malaria prevention, water and sanitation, human rights & legal representation, entrepreneurship and micro finance, education and community development, and inter-cultural awareness. 30 Uganda professionals including doctors, educators, lawyers, accountants, AIDS researchers, social workers, bankers, entrepreneurs, etc volunteered as panelists. Also 17 international volunteers including EWB engineers participated. Thanks to everyone who helped out. For a full report on the seminar, please visit Empowerment Seminars page.  A farmers’ workshop on Agriculture is scheduled for end of August. Looking for trainers; if you can help, please email me.

URF Kampala Chapter Launched by Ugandan Young Professionals & University Students:
Inspired by the work of URF, the speakers decided to form a team of professionals in Kampala to continue to promote the cause beyond Masaka. The team will organize regular workshops, provide professional services, collect scholastic materials, participate in community projects with international volunteers, etc. Those in Uganda interested in joining this vibrant team, please contact urfkampala@ugandaruralfund.org

Three Homes Built for Child-headed Families:
One for Deo, 19, Zaituni, 18 & Madinah, 16 all orphan students at Hope Academy and previously lived in a small hut. Second house is for Teresa an elderly woman with two grand children – Javira, 11 and Fred 7 whose parents passed away. The third house is for Nakachwa Rose, 15, a student at Hope caring for a sick mother battling AIDS. Thanks to the McFarlands and friends from Kentucky, Su from UK and students of the English College in Prague, and Stanya and Lenny from Australia for making a difference in the lives of these kids. The Boys’ dormitory at the orphanage was also completed. Thanks to Chris, Dan and the Duxbury community.

Water & Sanitation System Completed by EWB- University of Minnesota:
A team of 14 engineers and students installed a water system that pumps underground water for use at Hope Academy. The entire system runs automatically and also works in hand with the rain water catchment system that was installed last year. There is enough water for the school which may also be shared with the surrounding community during droughts when the wells dry out. Many thanks to EWB and the many sponsors that made this project possible.

Solar Power System Installed by EWB- Virginia Tech:
Six engineers and students have installed a solar power system that works in conjunction with the grid power at Hope Academy which will ensure that the school has constant supply of power. This is critical as URF and the Hope grows and expands use of technology and medical equipment that require reliable supply of power. Thanks to EWB, the Powell family, and the many supporters for helping URF and Hope operate more efficiently.

Men’s Group Launched:
After witnessing the success of women’s programs, the men in the community felt left behind and desired to also become more engaged in personal and community development. The group engages in workshops and income generating activities such as raising goats and pigs. Thanks to our current volunteers who have provided funding for goats and piggery projects for our men. They have also started the Village Banking program from which they borrow funds to start small enterprises. It’s critical to URF that both male and females are empowered equally because neglecting one can cause instability in families.

Malaria Prevention program:
Over 900 treated mosquito nets are being distributed to children and poor people in the villages. Thanks to Tyler with EWB-UMN and the Pilgrim church in Duxbury in MA for making the project possible.

Village Banking (Co-save) empowering women and men:
126 women in three groups and 24 men in one group are involved with village banking program. Members buy shares in the bank and then borrow funds to start a small project or use it to pay school fees for their kids. The money is paid back with some interest. The bank is solely run by the women and men themselves with very detailed regulations following a constitution for each group.

Crafts Program, a major source of income for URF women:
More than 200 baskets have been sold in the past two months. This has become the number one source of income for most of the URF women. Thanks to all who have helped sell or buy the baskets. In July a team from Kampala conducted a two days crafts training for Hope students including making paper bags, envelops, folders, binders, beads, and jewelry.

Entrepreneurship & Business Management Training program to be launched in September:
The women and men in the community have request URF to provide training in business skills to enable them become efficient in their business ventures. With this training they will be able to use the funds borrowed from the village bank efficiently and run successful businesses. The program will be one week each month for three months with certificates awarded at end of the training.

International Volunteers:
Currently 10 volunteers are working on various community projects in Masaka which includes working with local builders to construct the homes of child headed families, planting vegetable gardens, teaching, assisting kids at the orphanage, some office work, and workshops. They are from Australia, Canada, USA, England, etc. This summer there was also 14 engineers from Minnesota and 6 from Virginia. Thanks to all of you for the sacrifice you make and for your dedication to the service to the poor.

URF Videos (new videos of URF activities):

URF Pictures:

URF Blog:

Supporting URF:
There are many ways to help – donations, volunteering in US or Uganda, in kind donations, professional services, etc. To get involved please contact me or donate online at www.ugandaruralfund.org
Thanks so much and together we can make a difference, one village at a time.

Peace and many blessings,

John Mary–