A Garden Grows in Uganda

Hello friends!

We wanted to share a quick update on the INCREDIBLE work the community in Uganda is doing in the gardens at the Tusubira Village educational compound.  They are working SO HARD to plant our education gardens with a wide variety of crops so that people can see all of the healthy nutritional produce they can grow at their own homes.

 

We also have a team of gardeners that we have hired to not only oversee the planting and organizing of the gardens but to also be a part of teaching the community members that come to Tusubira Village to learn.  As we see these gardens coming together, sprouting and the long beautiful rows growing so well we are so excited to see people begin to see what it is we are doing here on this educational compound.  

For people who don't have enough land to plant proper gardens at their home, we are teaching them how to grow their produce in these wonderful repurposed bags.  The gardeners show them how to fill the bags with dirt, a cylinder of rocks down the middle for water to evenly distribute through the entire bag.  We offer starts in a variety of plants that they can grow and we also will teach them how to harvest seeds from their plants to grow future crops.  

The women in our community have enthusiastically visited the gardens whenever there is an opportunity to learn.  These women work so hard to improve conditions at their own homes, and the chance to improve the nutritional intake of their families is reason enough to learn what they can and take the lessons learned home.  Dr. Isaac and Sharon gave the women a tour of the spinach garden this week and shared with them the high nutritional content of spinach. 

Before the women left the compound they were each given a bunch of the spinach to take with them.  

We have a number of objectives at Tusubira Village.  Our highest priority is to create a sustainable program that will generate enough revenue to continue to expand the programs we hope to eventually offer.  Much of our crops will be sold to generate that income.  Another priority for us is to donate a portion of our produce to local organizations who are working with venerable children and people in the surrounding communities.  We want to support others doing good work in our area.  Finally, we want to make sure that the original community that welcomed us so warmly and enthusiastically is taken care of.  We want to support those that struggle to feed their families.  We want them to know that we are there as a part of their community and as such, we look out for each other as a family would. 

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We are still raising funds to put a roof on our first building at the compound.  If you want to make a donation please email thegrowhopefoundation@gmail.com

Uganda 2015 Update- Part 1

 

We set a few lofty goals when we started our work in Uganda, the largest (so far) of which involved bringing a well to Tusubira Village. A well means a lot of things to this community. It means a fresh water supply for eating and watering gardens, for bathing and hygiene, and a resource to literally sustain life. Thanks to a little “can-do” spirit and a lot of aggressive fundraising and generous donors, we saw that goal come to life. Kimberly was lucky enough to return to Uganda on behalf of our team to check on that well in addition to several other Grow Hope sponsored projects in progress. What she witnessed and accomplished during her time there was beyond encouraging.

 

 

We thought we’d pass along a little update to get you up to speed with what we’ve been working on. Progress is moving forward in our little village and we couldn’t be more pleased!

  1. The well is functioning as it should and community members also voted to to pay a small user fee, funds would then go towards maintenance costs as they arise. It thrills us to see the people taking ownership over the well and its success, which is exactly what we hope for when it comes to the rest of our plans within the village.

  2. So much work has been done on the 4 acres of land which will eventually host 40 gardens and various agricultural endeavors, as well as our next major focus: a multi-purpose educational compound. Trees have been cleared (leaving the existing jackfruit, mango, avocado and banana trees of course), a field of pineapples has also been planted. 

  3. While Kim was there we were able to break ground on the first of a series of buildings to be a part of the educational compound. This building will provide quarters for an on site social-worker who will facilitate the different educational, health, and community programs. Until the other buildings are completed it will also be used for meetings and to store supplies needed for ongoing projects, like the nutritional packets which we’ll touch on in part 2 of this update. We will also share the work that goes into building these buildings which begins with making each and every brick by hand.

  4. Funds that were raised and donated by a generous school project hosted by The Grow Hope Club in Canada were used to purchase and distribute 80 mosquito nets to families in need. Assistance and education was also given to those recipients on the exact installation and use of these nets, a step further from previous efforts where no education was given at all. Malaria is the #1 cause of death in this part of Uganda and mosquito nets can be hugely effective in reducing those numbers when used properly. 

  5. The team completed a visit to the children’s hospital in Jinja, the town closest to our community. Hygiene and comfort items were handed out to all of the people there (items generously donated by those back in the states). The main focus of our time at the hospital was spent on the malnutrition ward where we witnessed first hand its devastating effects on the children there. Since Ugandan soil is so rich and responsive to agriculture efforts, we have hope that we can use the produce from our gardens, combined with ongoing nutritional and hygiene focused education, to change the way people eat and prepare their food and hopefully improve their overall health and wellness. 

  6. In conjunction with improved nutrition efforts we connected with a few different programs that feed children in Uganda in the hopes that one day soon we can donate any excess produce from our community gardens in Tusubira Village to those in need.

     

 

 

 

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There was so much crammed into such a few short days that even catching up months later is a bit overwhelming. Though our time in Uganda was limited, it was extremely productive and that’s something to be proud of for those of us involved both here and on the ground back in Africa.

Part 2 of our 2014 excursion is soon to come, stay tuned to hear about the community educational focus and the advances we’ve made on a local level, along with some insight into our plans for the future.

 

It’s good stuff, we promise!  

 

 

Meet {Christine}

We'd like to introduce you to Christine.  She owns a small business near Tusubira Village and we knew soon after meeting her that she was a natural leader.  In a place where women can often feel inferior and have little power in their communities, Christine stands out.  She is focused on the projects she undertakes and dedicated in not only completing her own tasks but encouraging others to do the same.  She is respectful of other community members and has a way of bringing people together to work as a team in order to accomplish more than if they worked individually.  We feel fortunate to have Christine working with us to build Tusubira Village as she is an amazing role model for the women in rural Uganda.

1 What is your name?

NAMUSISI CHRISTINE

2 Are you married?

Not married (Christine lost her husband)

3 How many children do you have?

6 children, 3 girls and 3 boys

4 How did you connect with SCEP?

The chairman told me about a new project that had come in the community and the way he explained to me about it attracted me to join.

5 How has your life changed since working with SCEP?

My hygiene at home improved, I have a sun drier, a good latrine and rubbish pit where after I collect manure.

6 What knowledge have you gained from SCEP?

Better farming skills and am able to sell on the vegetable to get some money for other needs.

7 What else do you think we need to do in SCEP?

We need to stay united for development because we all learn from one another.

8 What other knowledge do you think SCEP should bring to the community?

Put some adult education especially on how to read and write

Meet {Fred}

Hello Friends!

 

We are starting a series here in the journal to introduce you to our community that lives around Tusubira Village.  These people have been a part of our work in Uganda since the beginning and have made vast improvements in their lives.  But I want you to hear it in their own words.  So, I would like to introduce you to Fred- a man whom I adore and who has been an example of what amazing things can be accomplished with hard work and an open mind to trying new things.

1. What is your name?  

My name is Musota Tibenkana Fred

2. Are you married?  

Yes

3. Do you have children?  

Yes I have children, four of them. Oohh sorry, I have five - one boy and four girls.

4. How did you connect with SCEP (Sustainable Community Education Program)  and The Grow Hope Foundation?  

It was one Sunday when I was walking round, then I saw people gathered under the mango tree and the village leader was also there. I drew closer to listen to what was going on and no one was bothered about my standing near the meeting. Then I heard you people teaching about what makes a person to be called healthy. I was excited about different things but it was new to me to hear that if someone isn’t happy, then he isn’t healthy. I left wondering when you said that some one at wrangle with his neighbor he isn’t socially healthy. I then also sat down and no one chased me away.  Anyway, from the little I heard on that day, I noticed that you had plenty to teach and I noted the next date for the teaching. Its from that date that I came to learn about and join SCEP.

5. How has your life changed from the time you joined SCEP?

I feel so strong enough in everything I do nowadays and I believe in my self just like you taught us. I have become more hard working because the gardens give me a lot of hope, especially when people come to my home to admire. This makes me work harder. My home also attracts people’s attention more than before. But I think I am also very strong because of the balanced diet which I now get and thank you for teaching us. I am also happy that I am able to meet most of the school needs for my children with the money I earn from selling the vegetables though not yet enough to meet all needs.

6. Of the knowledge that you have gained from SCEP, which one has had the best impact on your life?

The knowledge of farming and being in good relations with all people to be healthy.

7. What other knowledge do you need to continue making positive changes in your life?

I tried rearing chickens some time back but I lost all of them because of reasons I don’t know until now. I think you saw the nets i had put at home for the chickens! And I think that if I get more knowledge about rearing chickens and cows, I will be able to improve more.

8. What advice do you have for the non-SCEP members?

I only teach them every time they come to my home to admire (my gardens).

9. If SCEP left this village for another village right now won’t you get back to where you were before?

hahahahaha (very big laughter with wonders) No my friend, I will never get back again. SCEP has already shown me the right direction to take and I would just keep going but don’t plan on leaving us because we still need more guidance and knowledge from you.

The beginning of a well

Friends, you did it!  Thanks to you we funded our campaign and the community surrounding Tusubira Village will have access to water from a well that is safe to collect.  We are so grateful for your incredible generosity and belief in this project.  With your support Tusubira Village is going to help improve lives~

We are so excited to share with you that the initial studies for installing a well in Tusubira Village have begun!  The hydrologist has been to the property and done a complete study of where the well will hopefully go.  Things look very promising so far and we are working with drilling companies to collect bids for installing the well itself.  The community is partially in disbelief that this well is actually going in.  It really isn't something they ever dreamed they would have access to- safe drinking water.  It truly will change the way of life here in this rural community.  

A new year filled with so much hope!

 
     

     

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Today I spent quite a bit of time working with my bank getting organized for the next step in this adventure.  This year I hope to raise enough money to complete our pilot project as well as to expand some of our programs to include working with parents at the children's hospital, sending more kids to school and finishing our first (hopefully of many) chicken farms.  I am going to really push for this in the first half of the year so that when I return to Uganda (which I hope to do this summer) there will be so much to capture with my camera to share with all of you!  


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My hope is that you will follow along on this life-changing adventure and see that by contributing to it, you will feel that you are a part of something big- something good - changing the life of someone and giving them a chance to not only survive, but thrive.  This year I hope to introduce you to some of the wonderful families that we have been working with.  When you see their beautiful children and realize the potential that each of them have to impact their communities through education, you will understand what drives me to dream big.  And let me tell you- I am dreaming big this year!

 

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So I invite you to join me on this adventure.  I invite you to find your own ways to impact the lives of these families, these children, this community.  I encourage you to dream big, do good.  Wishing you an incredible year my friends, filled with laughter and triumphs and joy.  And big dreams.

 

x

Working together

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I want to share some photos that were sent to me by Dr. Isaac over the past few months.  These photos sustain me until I can visit the project myself and capture these amazing people working to improve their lives.  I find so much joy in seeing them working together and creating a healthier village thanks to our amazing team.  The fact that they are so willing to learn about sanitation and hygiene and then put so much effort forth to implement necessary changes astounds me.  

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By making these simple changes in their daily lifestyle, our hope is that we can improve the health and welfare of these families and thus give them an opportunity to not only survive, but to thrive.  

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When we see these community members working together, helping each other and teaching others how to improve their living situation it gives us such hope that there is the possibility for a shift in the way these villagers live.

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The Grow Hope Foundation and how it came about

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Hello friends~

 

I feel like there is so much catching up to do!  I have so much to tell you and am not sure where to begin...  So much has happened since I was in Uganda in July!  The short version- I took my first (of many I am sure) trips to Uganda, met amazing people, fell in love with children, spent time with a doctor who shares my enthusiasm for problem solving, visited a children's hospital, connected with mamas on a mama-to-mama level, and returned home determined to do something to help them improve their situation.  

 

So, Dr. Isaac and I shared ideas and got excited and made a plan and even though we didn't have much to work with, we just did it.  50 homes. 50 families.  He got the village elders involved, he found a team of volunteers, and they sat out under the shade of trees with large groups of villagers, talking to them about where they were, and where they could be.  The discussed health and hygiene, latrines and sanitation.  They talked nutrition.  He taught them how disease is spread, and how that can be prevented.  They built tools that allow them to make changes in their homes, to keep things clean, sanitary. They built hand-washing stations.  People got excited.  They worked hard building proper latrines.  Then they helped their neighbors do the same.  They worked together!  And they learned that when they did that, they could do even more than then could alone.  They began sharing ideas, thoughts, concerns.  They were a "village".  And we all know- it takes a village.  

 

And then Dr. Isaac came across baby Prisca, with her swollen feet and constant tears.  Her mama Jussie couldn’t figure out what was wrong, but Isaac knew.  Prisca was suffering from protein deficiency as she hadn’t had access to it.  At all.  So our team member Sharon bought eggs and milk and instructed Jussie to give each of the kids an egg and some milk each day.  Within a week little Prisca was walking again and the swelling had subsided.  In the meantime, Dr. Isaac visited the children’s hospital- he wanted to see how many cases of the same deficiency were present there.  Sure enough- there were a number of cases at the hospital, which could easily be resolved with access to regular protein.  And so the Chicken Farm project was conceived!

 

We are currently working to build a chicken farm.  The structure is up thanks to our very generous realtor Ray Gonzalez and the company he works for - Real Living Real Estate in Bothell, WA.  Now we will work to raise funds to purchase the baby chicks, the feed, feeders, vaccines, waterers and fencing to secure the project.  Once that is accomplished we will have a sustainable business in the community that will pay for itself as well as provide employment.  When the hens are laying, it will provide protein for the community through egg sales, and we plan to set up a program whereby eggs are donated to the the mamas at the local children’s hospital.  It will be a win-win for everyone, with the only input from from The Grow Hope Foundation being at the beginning.  After that, with the encouragement and support of SCHEP Uganda, they will be able to run a sustainable program that will benefit their community.  The whole thing brings me such joy- knowing that with just a bit of help, these wonderful capable people will be able to improve their own lives and the lives of their children.  

 

And, if everything goes according to the numbers and spread sheets that Dr. Isaac has run, little by little the cost of the initial project to get the chicken farm up and running will be repaid into a fund, managed by SCHEP that will be able to then be used to build another chicken farm, in another community.  And hope goes on~

 

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