Saturday, February 5, 2011

Spark's current efforts in Rwanda and Uganda

Spark's recent focus has been on community development projects in Rwanda and Uganda.  Sasha Fisher has been working with communities in these countries to plan and coordinate projects.  These projects are addressing needs that were identified by the communities themselves.  Continue reading below for a list of current projects and descriptions.  You can also find out more about the current status of these projects and the communities that are implementing them on Sasha's blog.

Bukomero, Rwanda:
A young man who helps to run a home for street children facilitated our first MicroGrant in Rwanda. The general community was invited to participate, a group that was loosely organized, but never given the chance to implement their own project before. The group decided on an animal project; chickens, goats and pigs are now in the hands of the women and men who designed proposals for the projects. Currently, ten of the families do not have their children in school, almost half of the group does not have health insurance and only one person is close to making a dollar a day, most families make under two dollars per month. The group is hoping that animals will help them with manure for their fields and a sustainable income source since they are manageable to raise, multiply and there is local demand.

Karambi, Rwanda:
Karambi Village consists of subsistence farmers and scattered rural homes. Members eagerly discussed the problem of clean water and how they could fix it with just a little help. They proposed building a tank for the existing – but frequently dry – water tap and water well for the other side of the village. They offered up their free labor to hand dig a water well. In the process, a local NGO, Living Water, joined to help provide technical assistance and ended up donating a whole bore well. Two sides of the village now have daily access to clean water.

Huye, Rwanda:
Huye, a district populated with tens of thousands of students attending Rwanda’s National University, is also home to an association of women who are widows of the genocide and wives of genocide perpetrators. The Unity and Reconciliation club at the National University works with the group of 1,701 women. The women are active in cultivating their land, making soap and other small money making ventures. Members of the association come together for lectures and problem solving sessions. They often come up with good ideas to solve the problems they face but have little support to implement them.

Most of the women grow vegetables and starches on their land, which helps to feed them and their children. Some have tried to start small businesses with micro-loans but they often run into problems paying them back. One woman explained that when they have to pay school fees for their kids and buy food, they don’t have enough and they take from their business and the loan. Aid should be focused on resourcing women like these. They have chosen to start a goat project, to provide manure for fertilizing their land,  milk for nutrition and meat to eat or sell for income.

Wanteete, Uganda:
80 women in Wanteete have taken it upon themselves to better their children’s education with a MicroGrant of only $1600. They have designed a communal project for building a pre-primary school. The project started when Spark MicroGrants gave Aaron Bukenya, a son of the village, an opportunity to facilitate a MicroGrant there. The women listed  many problems like access to clean water and nutritious food. They agreed on education, as the most important need if they wanted the village to develop. They cited Aaron’s success as a reason that education is so important. Although they cannot write, Aaron transcribed their proposal. Within three months, the women developed their plan, found land and set up committees to lead the school’s administration, garden, income generating projets and fundraisers!

Kawempe, Uganda:
In Kigundu Zone, Uganda, a group of women have started discussing the flooding that occurs in their part of the slum when the rains come. The water from the open water system floods into their mud paths and into their houses, not only a terrible disturbance, but dangerous for water born diseases and attracting mosquito’s that may carry malaria.

In early October MicroGrant facilitator, Aaron Bukenya, approached the women about a MicroGrant. He listened intently during their second meeting while the women discussed the multitude of problems facing them: poverty and unemployment, orphans who have lost their parents to HIV and other diseases, lack of education, sanitation and flooding. They ultimately decided to address the flooding that occurs, a serious social sector problem not being addressed by anyone. They are going to fix the trench which runs through the slums with a $1200 MicroGrant. 

Ruhango, Rwanda:
In Ruhango, Rwanda, Karambi Village has organized around the need for electricity. Their MicroGrant is for up to $2000 and will help them set up an electrical line into the village, providing a main source that people can then build off of to get electricity into businesses and homes in the area. At least one hundred people participated in writing the first round of proposals for the electricity line.

Ruhangeri, Rwanda:
Kinigi Village is highly food insecure, despite the fact that its residents live amongst potato and cornfields. The members of the village don’t own very much land, usually just the land that frames their huts. Some resort to stealing crops and others try to start small businesses. Few have health insurance, school fees for their children or access to clean water. They are starting to design proposals for their MicroGrant to improve food security.

Musanze, Rwanda:
An HIV Association is designing a proposal to educate and sensitize about HIV/AIDS. The association, in partnership with the clinic, will hold 30 events surrounding prevention of HIV/AIDS, access to care and support and decreasing stigmatization. They have explained problems of malnutrition, stigma and prostitution that are driving them to sensitize their area.

Huye, Rwanda:
A newly formed and struggling HIV Association has organized themselves and meets regularly at the clinic outside of Huye town, but still lack resources. Some members don’t take their ARVs because they don’t have food to take with them, which can lead to painful bodily reaction. Most can’t find work because of the immense stigma in the region against those who have been tested and shown to be positive. The MicroGrant will go towards a project for the group.

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