15 Feb. 2008 progress notes — East Africa regional exploratory visit

It's been nonstop since we landed in Entebbe, Uganda, on February 5. Here are some snapshots of what we've been doing, and some ideas about how you can help.

Water Education Workshop

Some 50 educators gathered for a two-day workshop to develop lesson plans for teaching about water, sanitation, and hygiene. We worked side-by-side with primary and secondary school teachers, and educators from NGOs and government agencies. Participants came from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Nigeria.

The hands-on lesson plans developed during the workshop stretched beyond the usual educational approach in participants' home countries, which relies heavily on rote memorization and recitation. The lessons will be made available to all workshop participants, and many will form the basis for educational materials that will be distributed to more than 1,000 schools in several African countries during the first phase of the project.

The workshop was sponsored by Project WET International Foundation and USAID as part of the Africa water education project that SEED Hope is supporting.

Teachers at the Jinja water education workshop.

School Visits

We have visited several schools and classrooms in the Kampala and Jinja areas in Uganda, and have been having a crash course in the education system used in Uganda, Tanzania, and many other African countries. Our visits have taken us to government school classrooms in rural and urban areas, a privately funded preschool program for AIDs orphans, a parent-funded community school, and a nonprofit education program that supplements the standard curriculum for 23 schools in the rural area near the Nile River north of Jinja.

In Arusha, Tanzania, we will visit one of the largest and best respected private schools in the country, as well as rural schools near Udzungwa Mountains National Park.

Students at government schools in Kampala.

Soft Power Education and Soft Power Health

We've initiated a dialogue with these two cooperating organizations that work in rural Uganda, in communities near the Nile River north of Jinja. The Soft Power organizations address gaps in service delivery by government schools and health agencies, offering innovative programs in malaria education, health care, community education, and economic development, as well as supplemental education in science, computer use, agriculture, art, and drama at the Soft Power education and cultural center.

Our preliminary discussions suggest that a partnership might help Soft Power address gaps in its funding strategies, developing new approaches for funding staff positions and becoming increasingly self-supporting.

The Soft Power Amagezi Education Centre.

Local artisans in Jinja, Uganda

We have begun conversations with a group of artisans from Jinja, Uganda, who hand produce excellent quality, beautiful handbags and tote bags. These bags are currently sold only at a local craft shop, and our discussions may lead to connections with with a U.S.-based marketing and sales firm, linkages with an emerging international network of artists, and perhaps the creation of a local craft cooperative.

Handbags hand-crafted of local materials by artisans in Jinja.

Tanzanian School and Community Visits

We have had extensive meetings here in Uganda with officials from the Trust St. Patrick Schools in Arusha, Tanzania. Next week, our travels take us to Tanzania, where we will will further explore ways to assist in advancing the institution's development and financial position, moving toward increasing self-sufficiency.

The Trust St. Patrick Schools have demonstrated a remarkable ability to leverage resources, growing from an initial enrollment of 21 students in a humble home-turned-school to a sophisticated facility that enrolls some 900 students in just over 10 years. The schools are potential partners in our youth entrepreneurship work.

While in Tanzania, we will also visit rural communities and schools in the area surrounding Udzungwa Mountains National Park, looking at ways to support education, entrepreneurship, and community economic development projects to help these villages expand the scope of their economic activity beyond traditional, micro-scale agriculture.

Secondary students at the Trust St. Patrick Schools' boys secondary boarding school.

Sanjay Falls in Udzungwa Mountains National Park.

How You Can Help

During visits to clinics, orphanages, schools, and communities, we continue to scout for practical ways to support organizations and communities that are not being well served by local government or international aid efforts.

How can you help?

1) Your donations will support our continuing efforts to solidify relationships in the East Africa region.

2) Your donations will support the next steps of research and development for specific projects and programs with SEED Hope's new partners.

3) If you have an interest in, or know people or organizations we should be in touch with in Africa or about this kind of work please contact us.

Classroom in a rural, parent-sponsored Muslim school north of Jinja.

Diagnostic laboratory at the Soft Power Health Clinic, Kyabirwa village, Uganda.

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