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, February 14, 2012

blog 12/02/2012

The week just past has been as vibrant and full as those that preceded it. The AASU team received more new, interesting and motivated interns; and so the dynamic between everyone feels exciting and fresh. We now have three new young Norwegian, and one Brazilian intern to contribute to the organisation’s projects and mission, who offer diverse and valuable knowledge and skills. As these new interns will be replacing many of those that have been around for longer, this signifies a period of transition and change for Arise and Shine, which is exciting and yet also sad for those who will be moving on.   
Once again, last week, several interns stayed in Jinja to work, and others went back to Kibuye village to further the programs in place there. In Jinja, Sophie and Isabella were busy travelling around to schools in Jinja, conducting workshops on Sexual Reproductive Health, and marketing and selling one of AASU’s products: Afripads. This was fun, interesting and rewarding! Sometimes we would be addressing classes of up to 300 students; all females aged between 12 and 20, and give presentations of roughly one hour. Firstly Juma would talk for about 20 minutes; informing the girls of issues surrounding sexual risks and behavioral change. He had a very engaging way of getting his point across, and would often use funny and quirky sexual analogies that had the girls giggling and smiling throughout his presentation. Following that, Sophie and Isabella would talk about Afripads; a sanitary pad that is suitable in impoverished communities, and that largely improves the sanitation of many women’s menstruation cycles. This week a total of 28 Afripads were sold, which was encouraging and rewarding; often only 5 or 10 of them will be purchased per week. A few things really stood out about these sessions. For one, the respect and admiration with which we were treated. From the moment we started speaking to the second we stopped, the girls were almost entirely silent, and 100 percent attentive; their wide eyes following you as you walked around the room talking, with interest and focus. I thought about how a class of similar-aged students would react to this back home, and am almost certain that such a talk (which was often taken out of their free time) would be met with audible sighs, eyes rolling, and incessant whispers circulating amongst the members of the audience. After the talk they would shyly come up and thank you for the time you had taken to talk to them, and for having chosen their school to do workshops with.  
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In other Jinja-related news, last week a new volunteer arrived from France to help AASU in the field of finance. The plan is that she will work with David, the accountant of the organisation, to ensure that a solid and transparent financial structure is implemented at AASU. Accounting, budgeting, internal processes and reporting are the key areas in which they envision a change within the organization. This will greatly assist the functionality and efficiency of Arise and Shine, and is a welcomed and much anticipated change in the NGO.  
Otherwise, the other focus for last week was the furthering of projects in Kibuye village. Firstly, the Adult Literacy program is making slow but sure progress. Despite the fact that inconsistent attendance and varying competencies between students is rendering the work very challenging, advancements are still being achieved. The girls heading up this project decided to focus on practical vocabulary for this week. Topics such as local geographic forms, occupations, days of the week, and basic maths were covered; as these are subjects that arise often in the lives of these rural inhabitants. The beads project is also continuing according to plan, with the women making beads, and these beads eventually being sold in local and international markets. One of our Chinese interns is still working on setting up an online store, which would stock these products, and sell them to Chinese Clientele. Lastly, Mickey and Paul, the interns from Restless Development, also conducted some very informative research. They interviewed women who take part in the beads project, as well as attend adult literacy classes.  
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The purpose of that is to get to know the local women better, learn about what motivates them to pick up new activities, in addition to whether or not Arise & Shine has improved their life quality. Information we gathered shows that women in the village are grateful for Arise & Shine activities, as they would not be able to get basic education and English language skills any other way. As for the beads projects, women we interviewed said that with money they made, they managed to buy chickens for their farms, pens and books for their children, and necessary commodities such as soap and salt for their families. We were lucky because all women we approached were willing to talk to us which shows their trust in the organization.
Data we gathered shows that Arise & Shine projects are indeed helping the community and we will use it next week when we’ll start fundraising for sewing machines so that women can start making bags.  
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In summary, last week was a fulfilling one, insomuch as the completed work and continuation of AASU’s projects is concerned. Unfortunately the following week will be the last one with the organization for many of us current interns. This is creeping up on us unpleasantly, and we try and distract ourselves from thinking about it too much! It’s been such a great experience with AASU and Uganda that we don’t want to leave. But it’s given us the imperative to come back, which is the most important thing. A taste for Uganda, so to speak! 
Until next time, 
The interns of AASU. 
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