Thursday, October 26, 2006
Ugandan Orphans Appeal - Latest News
The last term of the Ugandan school year started on September 18th. We are proud to announce that Hill & Valley Coffee, thanks to the support of its customers and friends, sent funds to Uganda to cover the school fees and other ancillary costs for the term for a group of 86 students to attend their various secondary schools in Iganga District.
In the end we had to send substantially more money than the £13 per child / per term that had been estimated to cover the fees. This figure had been based on an acroos the board average of 40,000 Uganda Shillings per student which came from UVP's 2005 audit of the scholarship programme. However, as in many areas, development in sub-Saharan Africa is a moving target! When the calculations were brought up to date to include increased costs of exam fees (our students are progressing so well!), it was decided to bring the coverage up to 47,000 shillings per student. On top of that the Ugandan Education Ministry and the private secondary schools have imposed a 15,000 shilling per student "School Development Fund" fee to oblige schools to invest in buildings and equipment etc. So the total per student tripped up to 62,000 shillings.
In the end we remitted exactly 2900 US Dollars in September; the fees were all paid and the remaining 86 students are studying hard for end of year exams down in Iganga.
Many of you reading this will have donated in one way or another. You can rest assured that your donation, however small, will have helped to change the life of an orphaned teenager and give vital support to the communities that struggle to support these young people whose lives have been dealt this most cruel of blows.
The donation facility remains in place on our website and all recent individual donations are being allocated to the existing group of 86. We appreciate that there is a bit of a backlog in allocating specific students to these donations, but our priority has been to raise money while we were "on the road", deliberately leaving some of the administration to when we had a bit more time on our hands which starts now. Fortunately this attitude has resulted in us holding some excess funds against our stated fund-raising objectives - a necessary insurance against "surprise" fee increases such as has been seen this term. However please be sure that we will get up to date as soon as we can. Any individual enquiries on donations already made should be sent to me directly at:
FUND RAISING FOR 2007
There was a bitter-sweet conclusion to our fund raising frenzy this year.
As we stated in the August update we have a group of 34 students at Busalamu Secondary School whose funding is our sole responsibility from now on.
We had decided to seek sponsors for 26 of these students on the basis of £50 per student / per mile for me to run an autumn marathon in Lausanne Switzerland.
First the bitter....
As some of you may have noticed I contracted a viral illness only 3 weeks before the marathon and had to pull out. This was very disappointing from a personal point of view as:
1) I was in pretty good shape, was just on the point of running my final 20 mile training run, and after switching running shoes 3-4 times seemed to have conquered the insidious achilles tendonitis that had begun to worry me.
2) The Lac Leman area of Switzerland in October can be a bit Jekyll and Hyde in autumn, but this last weekend the weather was glorious - a cobalt blue sky and virtually no wind.
3)I had planned to spend some time in an alpine spa (Leukerbad) in the days immediately before the race to "acclimatise". Instead I convalesced here in the UK - catching up on the coffee roasting I hadn't been able to in hospital, looking at forecasts of clear blue skies and Indian summer conditions across the alps.
4) I have already re-scheduled a marathon - in Seville, Spain on February 11th - and, lucky me, I now get to pound out the miles with all the London Marathon hopefuls through a dark, dull, windy and wet British winter! Karma.
You can follow the sad old "Coffeeman Running" here.
But now the sweet...
1) Our search for individual sponsors for the 26 miles and students was completed just 3 days before I fell ill and with around half paid in cash and half pledged, the support for the children is now guaranteed.
2) The success of this fund raising and the reactions of sponsors encouraged us to push and cajole our friends at UVP to widen the scope of the orphan support to cover more children. Up until now, and with some "donor fatigue" already experienced, the guys at UVP had been conservative in the numbers of new students they admitted to the scholarship scheme, the priority being to ensure that a child supported on day 1 at secondary school could be supported right through until their last day at school. This is a wholly sensible and prudent approach, but we felt that a gentle increase in numbers to match our own involvement was justified. This has now been agreed and sets us with some additional targets for 2007, in order to ensure a further increase in enrollment in 2008. I quote the "good news e-mail" below:
Here shall be the goals for January 2007, based on our conversations:
* We shall plan to continue funding all students at the increased level of 62,000 shillings per student per term, as school fees have risen precipitously this year.
* We shall plan to increase the number of students supported to 125, a significant increase from the 2005-2006 season in which we supported approximately 90 students (currently at 86 for the 2006 second term).
* We shall plan that of the 34 new students, 2/3 of them should be female to help decrease the gender disparity in secondary school education that currently exists in Uganda, to help prevent child marriages and teenage pregnancy, and to work towards the Millennium Development Goal of eliminating gender disparity in education.
* All new students should preferentially be at schools which have been identified as dependable and high quality by the 2006 auditors. Some that have been favorably reviewed include Busalamu SS and WAACHA Vocational. The new students shall be in Iganga District and we will cover their fees as we have previously, to be inclusive of exam fees that are imposed in S2 and S6.
Hope that puts us all on the same page. If you have any thoughts on the above, please e-mail me! I believe that the increase I have proposed is a good compromise between stretching our funding to the limit and trying not to leave money unused. We can definitely discuss further increases to number of students to be made in 2007 based on funding projections that exceed what we currently are raising.
We began to fund raise for the orphan scholarships in March this year. The March to October period of the year is undoubtedly our most "action-packed" period as we juggle the regular demands of roasting coffee for our online customers and select band of wholesale customers with the more intense work of running our "wet" coffee bars at outdoor events most weekends and sometimes weekdays too. It is this business that provides us with our greatest fund-raising opportunity as we are in contact continually with sympathetic relatively well-off people whom we are able to appoach personally for funding support. In a sense we have left most of the necessary formalities behind this summer in a desire to "get the money in" and "get it sent out".
We think that the results of this somewhat haphazard fund-raising blitz are justified by the results outlined above, when a more formalised and measured approach might have seen us delay any fund raising for several months. We achieved our objectives, but this does not mean that we intend to continue in this way in the future as we intend our work in Uganda to be both long-term, scalable upwards and we wish eventually to be able to include other areas of fund - raising and fund other associated projects.
So we have set ourselves some targets this winter in preparation for our fund-raising in 2007.
1. The creation of a registered charitable trust that will place us in the formal charitable sector mainstream. This will allow us access to possible corporate sponsors (including ourselves!) and allow us to incorporate other benefits such as Gift Aid.
2. A further significant increase in students funded by us at the level of secondary school education for 2008. Ideally we would like 100 students at no more than 2 schools. In order to be confident of long term support for such a number, we would need to draw up budgets that are realistic in terms of fund-raising and we need to seek out possible other fund raising partners in the UK.
3. To produce a feasibility study on a micro-finance project for agri-business in Iganga in association with UVP. There will be more details on this in a later update. This is an exciting spin off that does not involve donations, but recoverable no-interest loans, but it does add to "community wealth" in a long term sustainable way.
We hope you will keep in touch with us and any Hill & Valley Coffee customers who feel they have any valid input are most welcome to contact me on the subject. Offers of help or advice will always be welcome.
BACKGROUND, RESOURCES, LINKS AND OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST.
The guys at UVP have recently updated their website and it is well worth a thorough read through. Just click here to be taken there.
Some background on the fight against HIV / Aids in Uganda can be found here. Click away!
A "taster" about sustainable agriculture in Uganda can be found here. It makes an interesting read.
A report to Unesco about child poverty in Uganda. Although the area of study is not Iganga region many of the issues of course apply nation and even continent wide. The report highlights the breadth of problems created by the HIV / Aids Orphans crisis and contextualises what we are trying to do.
Finally here is a latest available update e-mail, internal amongst UVP volunteers, about their work related to HIV / Aids in Iganga. again this puts into context the orpan support programme in the other work being done.
I would like to take this opportunity to give you some information on what UVP has been doing. I have had a number of requests from alumni clamoring to know more about UVP's activities this year. So, for those of you who are very interested, I am making official project reports available online at the yahoogroup files section for you to peruse.
For those who would just like a summary, the first group I am reporting on is our fabulous HIV/AIDS resource guide group. This group was made up of 10 students and other young people, including a Ugandan student from Makerere University. This group, based in Igangatown, faced the difficult task of traveling to as many locations in the Iganga district as possible to search for those providing HIV/AIDS-related services. I am so impressed with the results!
They interviewed 25 different entities in Iganga district providing HIV/AIDS care and support to produce this resource guide, which is included in the body of the full report. Enjoy and you may direct any questions or comments about the project to me, and I will pass it on to the relevant person/people.
The purpose of this project was to identify the health centers and NGOs that were providing services in regards to HIV/AIDS. Uganda, although repeatedly cited as one of the few East African countries to combat the HIV epidemic through strict abstinence only programs, is a country with a rising incidence of HIV infection particularly among the younger population. In order to assess the types of HIV services provided by the NGOs operating in Igangatown, Uganda a resource guide was created. The resource guide (attached at the end of the report) lists NGOs and health centers according to sub-county. We were informed upon our arrival that the sub-county lines were changing around the time that our project was operating, but fortunately the population still identified with the old sub-county lines.
The types of HIV services listed in the guide were the following:
1) Prevention of mother to child transmission - both education and distribution of the drug Nevirapine
2) Youth Education on prevention of HIV
3) Outreach programs in the form of classes, drama skits, written materials
4) Home-based care
5) Income generating projects
6) Orphan Support
7) Distribution of Anti-retroviral therapy (emphasizing accessibility)
8) VCT - voluntary counseling & testing (emphasizing accessibility)
9) Hospital treatment for HIV patients
The NGOs were inquired on the above services. Additionally, we felt that it was equally important to actually observe these NGOs in action so to speak. In addition to the questionnaire we also set aside a separate guideline for observing. For example, we were taken on home-based care visits, requested to see the testing kits including the logs of patients receiving ARVS or Nevirapine. Once these organizations were interviewed and their activities observed, we compiled the resource guide, translated it into Muganda and distributed both English and Mugandan copies. A purpose for the team that developed over time was keeping in contact with these various NGOs. Four weeks was such a short time for the rest of the team, and they all felt that they would like a closer relationship with the community. Therefore, in the evenings and weekends, our team helped out a local orphanage (Iganga Self-Reliance Training & Rehabilitation Centre) by planting for their garden, interacting and
spending time with the children, and supporting their income-generating activities of necklace-making.
In regards to my conclusions, the main inadequacy lay in the accessibility of treatment. Transportation fees, lack of doctors/nurses, and CD4 cell count machines that simply did not work. We were informed that there were 2 CD4 cell count machines in the entire country and both were broken. According to the WHO, in order to be put on ARVS, two requirements must be met: CD4 cell count under 200 and Stage 3 disease diagnosis made by a doctor (and not a medical officer). With the count machines broken, testing kits running low and as I was informed nonexistent for a two month period, and with 1 doctor per 75,000 people this makes getting patients on ARV therapy a major challenge in the Ugandan health care system. Something interesting to note is that when I visited the Walter Reed Project, they had informed me that they never go out to the villages and had no idea what was going on out there. I feel that there must be more targeted outreach to these villages. Even the people
living in Kampala refused to go out to the villages because it was not 'modernized'. This is unfortunate considering that the people in most need are not the ones living in the cities, but the ones in the farms.
Thank you for the opportunity to complete this project.
Nichole McCalvin (project coordinator)