The main goal of this project is to stop the cycle of poverty plaguing rural communities in Uganda, which are often neglected. We plan to set up vocational programs in addition to the secondary school program that will provide practical skills to over a 1000 orphans, youth, and women. There are already 180 orphans involved in the secondary and after school programs and over 230 women and men in the women empowerment program and adult literacy program. There are very few salaried jobs in Uganda; opportunities for income producing work are mainly by operating a small business. We aim to provide practical education that will equip the recipients with technical, entrepreneurship and leadership skills that will enable them to be innovative and successful in running small business ventures. As a result, they will live meaningful lives and contribute to the development of the local economy bettering their own villages. The program also aims to promote local leadership by empowering the leaders with leadership skills so they can take charge of their own destiny. Where local leadership is lacking, there is no sense of ownership and accountability, which impacts the sustainability and effectiveness of any development program. In Uganda there is a huge gap in education and development opportunities between rural communities and urban communities. We aim to reduce this gap by empowering rural people through providing access to educational and sustainable development opportunities they need to improve conditions of living in their communities and reduce rural to urban migration.
We are conducting a campaign to form student campus chapters across the nation in addition to the three existing campus chapters, to join efforts in raising awareness and fundraising to support education projects. Our goal is to have formed a dozen campus chapters at colleges and high schools. We have two campus chapter coordinators who are reaching out to individual students, clubs, and departments such as Campus Ministry, International Studies, African Studies, International Student Associations, and others with similar interests like our programs. We are extending the campaign to Canada as well. Previously, college students raised more than 70% of the funds that were used to build the current school structure; so I believe we can do more. Many of our volunteers both locally in the States and those travelling to Uganda from other countries are students who will be able to help us make connections with their respective campuses. We have partnered with Architecture for Humanity whose team is making architectural designs for the expansion of the school that will house the vocational training programs. We are working with Engineers Without Boarders at University of Minnesota and Virginia Tech to design and construct systems for water and sanitation and solar energy for the school. The first phase of the rainwater harvesting system was completed in the summer of 2008. The second phase for a ground well and water pump will be implemented in 2009. Last year, we launched a successful partnership with Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade organization, which conducted crafts training for our rural women teaching them basket making for export as one of the initial vocational trades, and purchases their baskets. The participating women receive the income. We are exploring a partnership with Bikes Not Bombs in Boston, which would allow us to provide shipments of used bikes and spare parts to our school that would be used to repair and sell the bikes. This would be mainly an income-generating venture for the school, to support part of the cost of operations, with a limited, secondary vocational training component. We are seeking out a relationship with one or more reputable microfinance banks operating in other Ugandan locations, such as KIVA or FINCA, which can provide credit loans to our graduating students so they can access capital to start personal or small group small business ventures. A strong on-site volunteer program attracts a variety of international volunteers who are helping in operations of the programs and fundraising abroad. Many of the volunteers are students from various colleges and universities around the world who return to raise awareness and fundraising on their campuses. We hope in the future also to partner with the Peace Corp to provide longer-term, skilled volunteers. Access through the Clinton Global Initiative to the network of other nonprofit organizations with programs in Uganda could greatly speed up the development of planned capabilities. We are also seeking grants from various foundations to support and expand the vocational and other programs. (The opportunities for foundation grants are not helped by the current economic conditions.) We continue to seek media opportunities to publicize our work both in Uganda and internationally, which have so far been very helpful to enlist a widening base of supporters. We work with local community leaders to provide mentorship to make sure we are meeting the needs of the local people. We also conducted a field survey to find out the educational interests and vocational aspirations of young women and men and their responsible family members (parents, grandparents or other relatives who are raising them) throughout our service area. Website: Hope Integrated Academy: www.hopeacademyuganda.org Uganda Rural Fund: www.ugandaruralfund.org