Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Greetings from Kampala, Weeks 2-3

3 weeks in and life is good in the capital city. Grant and I are working in the main office of the Katosi Women Development Trust on the outskirts of Kampala with the 5 full-time employees of KWDT. The staff here is thoroughly enjoyable and upon arrival I quickly felt very comfortable with the office environment and the work that we have been given. Most of our responsibilities are related in one way or another to seeking grants and applying for funding from international foundations whose mission is compatible with KWDT. This can at times be a frustrating process-sometimes we will locate a promising organization who shares the values and goals of KWDT, yet, for one reason or another- either we narrowly miss a requirement or the organization is not currently accepting applications, we cannot always apply for funding. To complicate the matter, the internet here, reportedly the best available, can be painstakingly slow and internet speed often varies from minute to minute.

However, when we do find a project that fits it is very encouraging and is easy to find the motivation to pursue it. Currently Grant and I are working on a School Enterprise Challenge where schools initiate a student-run business that can be profitable and self-sustaining and can provide funding in addition to that provided by the government (which, from the looks of the schools, appears to be minimal) and by organizations like KWDT. Grant and I thought about possible profitable enterprises and quickly realized that we did not possess sufficient knowledge of the market conditions for various businesses, let alone profitable ones, and if we were to implement a business in a school based on what we knew about operating a business in Uganda (which is nothing) the business would be an utter failure and waste of funding. So we approached the school that our organization thought would be most prepared for the challenge, called Katosi Primary C/U, which was deemed qualified b/c of its long-running success with utilizing and maintaining bio-sand water filters and rain-water harvesting tanks. KWDT has installed water hygiene and sanitation instruments in nearly 30 schools, but often the schools neglect to properly care for the instruments and they end up no longer functioning-leaving the schools w/o access to drinking water and water to wash their hands with.

So we discussed the challenge with Primary C/U and decided upon opening up a pig-farming business that would be supervised by two of the teachers (also the heads of the sanitation club) and managed by six of the students. We have gathered the basic information to enter into the challenge and are currently creating a budget to assess the feasibility of the program given our funding and to create the business plan that is due in about a month. More updates on the challenge as events warrant.

The weekends are spent exploring other parts of Uganda and breaking the day-to-day routine of the work-week. In order to mentally prepare for our safari coming up this Friday (which we are very excited about) and to become familiar with African fauna, George, Grant and I headed to the zoo in Entebbe on Sunday where we got to check out some rhinos, lions, giraffes, monkeys, and quite a few more. After our visit, we certainly felt better-equipped to observe the animals in their natural habitat. The previous weekend we visited Jinja-the source of the Nile River-where we observed a group of men kayak and swim down very impressive and powerful rapids (they do it for money, and given the danger of the activity I was uncomfortable encouraging it) but fortunately I was able to free-ride and enjoy the show w/o having to pay.

Well, I think it's time to return to work. Future updates will be more frequent.

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After our visit, we surely felt better-equipped to observe the animals within their organic habitat
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