They women are ready to build their school. They have aquired the land and have already started the school garden which has beens, cassava, corn and soon some vegetables as well! The women showed their joy on Sunday with a celebration of dances, singing and food for everyone who came. They presented Aaron, the facilitator, and myself with pineapples, papayas and a few eggs - incredibly generous gifts from a group of subsistence farmers. The remarkable thing is that the women were celebrating the gift of a mere $1600 to fund a project that they are doing the work for. The women have created committees including those to care for the school garden, a pig rearing project for school income and the school governance. All the positions are voluntary and for the construction of the school the women who can are each providing a wooden post. They are pouring themselves into this project in hopes that it will launch their children into a better future.
One concern about the project was sustainability; how to ensure there is money to pay the two teachers and buy books for the students. In January/February they are organizing a local fundraiser in hopes to have local candidates running in upcoming elections to compete for their votes by donating money. Local politicians have money to spend at the local level but in Uganda it is often used to buy off votes and does not get spent on social projects like schools and health clinics. The women see an opportunity to use their success in building their own school as leverage and their power as a group to pressure candidates to support the school.
At every level of this competition the women are enthusiastically providing whatever they can, they are a great example of how communities throughout our world have incredible potential and will show persistence in working for social benefits if they are resourced with even a minimal amount of organization and funding. Community energy and local expertise exist where development is needed but it is not being utilized. Through MicroGrants we are figuring out great ways to effectively harness the utility of communities.