Kibuye Project overview

AASU’s first community project is focusing on the village of Kibuye in North Eastern Kamuli, on the shores of the Victoria Nile. Kibuye has an estimated population of 60,000 people and is spread over 27 by 35km. The majority of the population is highly dependent on subsistence farming and barter trade within village in order to survive.

Before the project began, Kibuye was dependent upon one borehole for safe drinking water. Due to long lines when collecting water many have been choosing to fetch water from the river, which has caused illness through water born diseases. The village also only has one school, consisting of two classrooms accommodating roughly 600 children. The children that can’t walk the distance to the school simply don’t attend. The majority of children do not attend school, either due to distance or family circumstance, consequentially 80% of Ugandans over the age of 15 are illiterate.

So far within the Kibuye project AASU has been able to buy four acres of land at the East end of the village on which we have built a bore hole and are currently building classrooms for the Arise and Shine Nursery and Primary School which is due to open for the start of the school year in February 2011.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sophie and her team.

We’ve spent the majority of this past week in a remote village called Kibuye, which is about three hours drive from Jinja.  Kibuye is a beautiful place: green and lush, and possessing an incredibly profound sense of space.  In our entourage were six female interns, and the project cordinator of our NGO, a Ugandan called Juma.  Juma is a lovely man, of playful and jovial temperament, and always eager to impart a gem of wisdom or various, cryptic Ugandan proverbs on us interns. During the car ride, every now and again he would turn around from his front seat in the car grinning and expressing words of encouragement (whilst being seemingly bemused at our inability to handle the rough drive).  Several redeeming aspects of the rough trip were the beautiful landscapes and forests we passed, and the children that would run out to see the car, smiling and waving. 
The conditions in the village were very basic, as was to be expected. There was no running water or electricity, and thus no sewerage or apparent irrigation systems. But things weren’t chaotic, far from it. Things were slow, drawn out, and interestingly orderly. We slept in mud huts under the silent sky, resplendent with stars. Meals are simple; cooked over a makeshift stove or fire at our campsite, and we all had fun fumbling around in the dark, trying to put together a decent dinner! In the morning, it was peaceful and pleasant to wake up to the sound of children playing around the huts, and to the smells of Ugandan women cooking Chapati for breakfast. And the people were so beautiful, so warm. You couldn’t walk past a gathering of women without them drawing you into their circle, hugging you and holding your hand, uttering warm words in their limited English and continuing on in the same way in their local dialect. They seemed to host an ultimate sense of respect for workers from the NGO. This leaves one feeling incredibly honoured, but also hugely responsible; a live reaffirmation that what we were doing had large and direct impacts of the lives of these people.
For the moment, interns are working on three main projects: those pertaining to Adult Literacy, Sexual Reproductive Health, and Social Entrepreneurship.  All of these projects present different challenges and difficulties, but are equally as rewarding when progress is made.
It was great to start working in the communities, but an overwhelming sense of what progress still needs to be made soon became prominent. As they were so isolated, life in the villages was so very basic. Families were very large (and often polygamous), and so the people poor, and the education (other than the NGO’s school) seemed almost non-existent. To illustrate this particular point; our adult literacy consists of working with the adults in the community to improve their English. The advanced class can, maybe, write the letters of the alphabet. The beginner’s class are just learning how to hold a pen.  The process of teaching for us was rendered slightly more difficult with the language barrier; the people communicated almost solely in Lusoga (their local dialect), but our translators were patient, and we got our points across when we needed to. The motivation and curiosity of the people was very encouraging, as they would come to classes with focus, determination and good spirits, very eager to learn.  And the positivity of the people was so enlightening: setting aside the obvious indications of extreme poverty, I could easily say that these people are some of the happiest I’ve ever met.  As the classrooms were not in the best of conditions, next week we hope to make them more presentable, and the environment more conducive to successful learning.  It was inspiring to learn that the women were so motivated despite their slow progress: they seemed to know that even if they wouldn’t reap the benefits of their current learnings, perhaps their children, or their grand children would.
The aforementioned social entrepreneurship program that we’re implementing was also progressing nicely. This program helps the women to make jewellery in a very cost effective way. They make beads from free paper that we obtain from Telecommunication, or various other companies. This is not only cheap, but also environmentally responsible, as paper that would otherwise be thrown away or burnt, is recycled. In explanation: we teach the women how to make the beads, and then the necklaces, and subsequently find local and international markets for their products.  This allows them to generate some income, and support their families and agricultural plots.
The sexual reproductive health project is also in a transitory period. The mornings we would spend doing sensitisation, which consisted of walking around to different households in the villages, and raising awareness on various topics of importance. And then in the afternoons, people would come and see us at the intern base in the village, and we would inform them on them programs and services that we were currently working on, and gauge their interest regarding the programs.  For sensitisation we were mostly working on birth control and family planning. Sophie had the idea of exploring the feasibility of introducing different forms of birth control in the village, and namely the method of Implanon. For those not familiar with the product, it’s a single-rod implantable contraceptive, providing more than 99% effective contraception for up to three years, and various WHO reports have researched and proved the efficacy of this method in developing contexts.  We spent time describing, and evaluating the reactions and opinions of people regarding the contraceptive. Our findings were overwhelmingly positive; most reactions went along the lines of – ‘I need this, after having 11 children, I’m tired’, or ‘Do you have this with you? Can we have it now?’, which was very reassuring.  The work was hugely rewarding, but also quite tiring. And of course, it’s important to take things slowly, and to be aware of the limitations and cultural differences present that make the introduction and implementation of new programmes lengthy and difficult.
All in all, last week was a very enriching one! We felt that progress was made on each of the projects, and had some wonderful moments with the people in the villages. We hope to be updating you very soon, in summary of the coming week! Thanks for reading,
The interns of AASU.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New years greetings and the new house

Our dear readers, the Arise and Shine family. Where do we start from after that long time of not hearing from us? Our apologies again and again. But on our side all has been well, starting with a great Christmas celebration. Thanks to Winnie Kaniar who made our Christmas such a memorable one! She donated to Arise and shine so our babies and all the children could have a great Christmas celebration and indeed it was a special day for all of us.
We started the day with going to the swimming pool. This went on until 12:00 O'clock, the children then started getting hungry and whiny. We then headed home to a very delicious meal prepared by our favorite cook Margret. We had a variety of dishes all Ugandan food ( Matooke, rice, meat, chicken among others) we also had a treat that got all the children so excited! That was the Soda. And shortly after all children went hyper and overly excited. The Christmas spirit was present! We then shared a Brazilian meal "brigadeiro"   a very sweet dish prepared by the Brazilian volunteers. It was approved by the babies and they just couldn't stop eating. They also had a visit by Santa Claus! With all the presents, a very new thing for the children.
 To date, the children still share their story of Christmas and everything that happened on the day.
It is January now and a lot is happening in the organisation. Through our first year of operation, we needed some changes but because of the limited funds these changes were not possible. This year with all your support, Arise and Shine is able to make these changes! The Arise and Shine children's care home has been a great home for this year, it was so much better than what we had before and also better than what our children have ever had in their lives. But it needed some changes. Our compound was so tiny, not big enough for the children to run around . It was always so sad seeing the children crowding up in the house as the outside was too hot to play. At Arise and Shine, we know that play is a big part of a child's development. And we always wished to give as much as we could to our children. This was not a possibility for genuine reasons. Bless our children! They don't know any better. They came from worse and they thought this was great but we as Arise and shine staff knew what was best for the children.
At the start of January, we started a house hunt. It went on for 2 weeks. But we are happy to inform you about our greatest news. We found a place with everything we ever wished for! Massive bedrooms, massive compound where we can build a play ground and still have plenty of space to play foot ball and run around. A place we will call home for the coming years. We are thrilled with joy! . Photos of the house will can be seen on our facebook page and on the website.
Arise and Shine is making progress, we are so glad! But this is all because of you, one that takes a minute to think about the orphans and abandoned children in Uganda. You who saves money out of your daily spending, to give to a child so far away. A child that has seen nothing but hardship in their life and a child whose hope for survival  lies in other peoples kindness and generosity. Today we as Arise and shine, we would like to pass on our thanks on behalf of this child. Thank you for supporting a child and changing their story.We are truly grateful ,for you are more than a friend.We call you our family.And especially to the children we serve, you are the family they have never had.Thank you for the support! We look forward to what we can achieve together in this new year as we aim at rescuing more children in vulnerable situations.The orphaned and abandoned children in Uganda. Stay and fight with us, together we can make a difference!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Jiao Jing Ping (Jim) (14th –22th Dec 2011)

It has been a wonderful week of life in Jinja. As a volunteer from China, I am experiencing an unforeseen warmth and hospitality from locals as well as the nature wildness of Uganda.
During the orientation week, I visited Arise and Shine’s Baby’s Home. That was the first time for me visiting an orphanage, and it was joyful and amazing. Kids were excited to see a new face and strive to be the first to play with “Musmgu”. I remember little girls. One’s name is Fiona, the other is Mitchell. Unlike other kids playing with us excitedly, Fiona was sitting on the floor very quietly holding a plastic little pony. She showed a bit of fear when I was trying to sit beside her. Then I came up with an idea that I pick up the little pony and made it jump on Fiona’s shoulder and head. Then the little girl smiled. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Mitchell was crying the first time I saw her. I could not leave a crying girl alone, so I tried to cheer her up. I lifted her up and swung her, soon she stopped crying.
It was intoxicating to see innocent and puerile expression in their eyes. At the same time, I could not help thinking about the fact that their living standard still remains to be improved and there a lot other African kids that are keen for aid but their voices never been heard. However, as long as we are doing something for them, no matter how little it is, children like Fiona, Mitchell will have a better life.

I also went to the village. The experiences there were both new and exciting to me. Frist of all, volunteers did a survey of a new stove which aims to save wood and improve the efficiency of cooking. I thus had a chance to go into normal household and have a glance at their lives. On top of that, volunteers got the hands on, and did build a stove ourselves. Besides this, I did weeding for young trees planted by former volunteers.

This has been a meaningful and fulfilling week. Hope next week I will be able to accomplish more.