Rainy season...wellies time!
Sat, Apr 21 2012 05:27
Well, it’s been another eventful few weeks here in Uganda!
The main focus really has been the rain, everyone has been anxiously and eagerly waiting for it to arrive as it is very late this year. Basically, the sooner the rain arrives, the sooner people can plant their seeds and therefore harvest their crops and eat! The preperations have been taking place for weeks...
The land has been ploughed
Grass has been collected for repairing the roof’s of huts
Seed’s have been sorted ready to be planted. Due to lack of money, most people replant their seeds from the year before, this results in poorer yields as the seeds are not improved or drought resistant. These are Gnuts, they are taken out of their shells, sorted and the good ones are planted. There is a real community spirit with seed sorting, everyone helps each other, chatting and laughing whilst working.
And eventually...the rain has arrived!! It is very late and only time will tell what this season will bring but for now everyone is very happy and out on their land planting their seeds! The rain here is so heavy and is often accompanied with immense lightening!
In terms of the community work, it is progressing extremely well and there have been some exciting developments!
First of all, I had a meeting with the head of Community Development for the Red Cross who is keen to develop some projects in our communities! The Red Cross are very well established and respected here and run a wide range of programmes from community health projects to income generation, food security and irrigation projects. This is very exciting and I have since met with the local team who may be able to organise the volunteers, training and offering technical support. We will give this some serious consideration and continue to meet over the next few months.
I have also had meetings with two microfinance organisations, they offer small loans and saving facilities for people who cannot access traditional banking services. First I met with Five Talents and later with Opportunity International, both are keen to work in Bunambutye and are well aware of the poverty and great need for improved services in this area. In fact, Opportunity were so keen that we got in the car right away and went to meet with the community! There are however some obstacles here as the bank need a certain number of clients in order to operate in an area and it also needs to be established that the community are prepared to take small loans, at present it does not appear that they have received this preparation and therefore taking out small loans could potentially result in future financial hardship.
The Branch Manager and loans officer from the Mbale Branch meeting with some of the local government officials to discuss the possibility of developing services in the area.
I also went to the Uganda Bureau Of Statistics to get some statistics for developing project proposals and randomly met a principal statistician who is from Bunambutye and has been working on a development proposal complete with lots of statistics and background information!
I also spent a day with Community Development Organisation Jenga, they have been incredibly helpful and given me a lot of advice on developing projects here, they took me to see various projects including a scheme to support orphans and widows and a rainwater harvesting project. We also went to visit some women’s groups which was brilliant...im so keen to develop and support women’s groups as they have so much potential to lift women and their families out of poverty!! I have also met again with Send a Cow and also BRAC, I am hoping to persuade both organisations to offer some support to the communities of Bunambutye. All of the organisations I have met with have been very open to working in Bunambutye but need the funds to do so and have basically suggested that if we can find the funding then we can talk about potential partnerships. It will of course though be difficult to secure this funding without setting up a new organisation which makes me feel that this could be the most effective way of supporting these communities in the long run.
I had a lot of comments from my last blog about the families I introduced so I thought I would introduce you to a few more families this time.
This is Richard with his wife Rukia and daughter Matril, they have four other children who were at school when this picture was taken. Neither Richard or Rukia went to school and have both worked from a very young age as farmers. Life is hard for them and they are stuck in a vicious cycle of poverty. This family have had a lot of tragedy and have had family members die of cholera, malaria and also had a child shot dead by the Karimajong.
The family can often not afford basic things like soap and as a result health and hygiene within the household is poor. They are usually destitute by the time they harvest their crops in August and will sell up to 70% to pay for essential items, leaving them again destitute and hungry and the cycle begins again. Richard is very keen for more charities to work in the area and said that the interventions which would help him and his family the most would be training on improved farming techniques, improved seeds and access to capital / microfinance.
This is Seliah with myself, her husband John and her children Joshua and Patience, they have four other children.
Seliah is from Kenya and they decided to move back to her husbands homeland 3 years ago with the hope of building a better future. They have found it extremely difficult to become established here though and have just a one room mud hut with no latrine, bathing shelter or cooking area. They only have 1/2 acre of land and no animals so therefore no security for difficult times. Seliah gets up at 4am every morning to prepare mandaz (small cakes) to sell at the market but she struggles to even cover her costs and explained that without some capital her business will not grow and she cannot see how they will work their way out of poverty. This year has been particularly difficult for them and they have not yet been able to afford to buy seeds for planting. They left two children with relatives in Kenya, hoping that they would be able to afford to send for them but this is not likely anytime soon.
Seliah and her son are always smiling and are truly lovely people who just want their life to be a little bit easier.
Well, that's all for now, thank-you once again for reading my blog. As always, feel free to comment or get in touch to give me your thoughts!