Thursday, 11 August 2022

It is time to celebrate!

Time flies here and it is time to celebrate the progress and achievements of all groups and learners! 

The month started with celebrating the graduation of 11 members of CEFOVID. After 2,5 month of training, the participants are now ready to apply the digital skills acquired in their daily lives. 

The tailors have learned how to create digital content and market their products online. The teachers gained knowledge about pedagogical online tools that they can use them to prepare and give their lessons. Simultaneously, youth leaders improved their online communication and collaboration skills. 

After the hard work, all participants received a certificate. We celebrated it with a big cake and speeches and ending up dancing all together. 🎉



Then, we celebrate the progress of the 40 young refugees that participated in a two-weeks online training. It  was organised together with Windle International as part of their pre-departure training. As the students were split in 11 different refugee settlements, we had no other choice than organising it online. But this constraint eventually offered us new opportunities such as being able to take the time to correct individual assignments and give feedback. It also allowed students to go at their own pace and learn from their mistakes.

As trainers, it was also an opportunity for us to learn how to use Google Classroom. 

According to the participants, the training was super useful for their daily lives, studies and professional careers. 

UPA secretariat also benefited from a tailored two-days training where they learned about Google tools, online design and marketing among others.  Congratulations to them for their new learnings!








Friday, 5 August 2022

A challenging July

It is time for holiday at Kikooba Infant & Primary School as the second term is already finished! July was an overwhelming hard working month for teachers, students, and me. As it was the end of the term, teachers and students were busy with reviews, tests, official exams, corrections, and final reports. In the garden, you could see children run through subjects out loud and teachers with red pens in their hands concentrated on marking thousands of papers. In the meanwhile, I was planning and managing different workshops and training for the teachers to make them into practice, following up Mondo Child Support Program and the Kikooba Solidarity Farmers Group, trying to organize everyone's time in the best way possible. 


Training & Workshops

Good School Environment

What is a good school environment and how can we create it? Teachers and I reasoned on this topic. Firstly, through non-formal activities, they reflected on the strengths and weaknesses of the school sharing them with the team. Secondly, through group discussions, they tried to find possible solutions for the main problems to start the third term in the best way possible!






First Aid Training

I am so proud to have succeeded to work together with the Uganda Red Cross Society. We organized together a full-day-training for Game Master and Welfare teachers who could learn and practice the do and don´t of first aid, the life triangle, and how to react in case of drowning, fracture, bleeding, stroke, dislocation, burns, suffocation, insect bites, and poisoning, and how to use the items of the First Aid Kit I provided to the school. Everything was possible thanks to the use of microfinance supported by Mondo through the EUAV program.









Nursery Workshop

I could work in partnership with Miss Harriet, a teacher from Kampala who is focusing on helping nursery teachers to understand better the importance of their role in the growth of children and how to be organized is necessary to reach their teaching objectives. Using the Learning Framework for Early Childhood Development book, teachers improved their knowledge about the learning framework (competences and related activities), how to read it, how to do a termly scheme of work, lesson and daily plans, and self-evaluation. 







Follow-up

Mondo Child Support Program

A lot of the children in the school come from vulnerable families and are struggling to pay the fees. In May 2019 sending organization NGO Mondo started with the Child Support Program in Kikooba Infant & Primary school that is supporting 100 students. This month, I was working together with the School Director to check children's health and their academic performances, and meet children´s parents to have some updates on their family background and issues. 


Kikooba Solidarity Farmers Group (KSFG)

KSFG is a project initiated by the previous EUAV. Kikooba Infant & Primary School purchase goats or pigs which will be borrowed to the school community families. The families rear them giving the first production of the borrowed animal to the school. The second production will belong to the family, the third one again to the school, and so on... In this way, the school will generate some income besides the school fees, and also the families will have an income to be able to pay for the education of their own children. In July, I visited all the project´s families to check on their borrowed animals and how is their economic situation after 2 years. 





Birthday Parties!

On the 20th of July, I turned 30! It is some years since I am abroad on my birthday and being far from my family and friends is always more difficult on that day. Besides that, teachers and student organized me a wonderful birthday party. After the birthday song, speeches, dances, and the cut of the cakes, everyone enjoyed the friendly football match between teachers and students. I had to bet that students would win!





Party never ends! When I came back to Kampala, I enjoyed this special day with Villa Mamu´s family by organizing a delicious barbeque.




Wednesday, 3 August 2022

A hectic east African mid-summer dream

The colours of Arua

Red soil, orange explosive sunrises, deep green vegetation and blue uniforms. That’s what I could see on my trip to Arua (West Nile) to train, with the Mondo team, the students of the Primary Teachers’ College on the Digital Competencies Training (DCT). Their commitment and excitement made me forget the 11 hours trip by bus on my return to Kampala. 



Ndegeya Teachers’ College

On our way towards the equator (see an extremely Mzungu photo of myself below) I had the honor to interview some students who took part in the DCT at Ndegeya college. 


Part of my tasks are to collect successful stories, and what is reported below is only an extract of the students’ testimony. 


Barbra, 19, and Enock, 23, are about to graduate. Fascinated by my big camera, they were not shy in posing for some photos and told me their stories. 

Proudly wearing his uniform, Enock ushers me towards a classroom to conduct the interview. He smiles whilst rigorously taking notes and introducing himself. 

He was motivated to take the path of teaching by his family as “the people who surround me are teachers. My guardian, his wife, and most friends.”. But at the core of his choice there is a firm belief that teaching “is a natural calling, it’s in your blood, is to become an example to others, help them become what they are supposed to be”. 

Thinking about the future, Enock feels that having gained IT skills, he will have more chances of getting good job opportunities and becoming financially stable. 

“Teaching is to stand in front of a class, seeing the children’s own way to learn new concepts. You can’t teach without love.”  describes Barbra. Her passion for teaching is “stemming out of love”, she says. After college, She would like to combine the two passions she has: study fashion and design of African kitenge clothes, whilst teaching in primary schools. “Gaining digital skills helped me,[...] I can now search on Google for different designs, latest fashions, product’s quality, advice on how to make them on my own.” 


It’s inspirational to hear that digital skills can contribute to achieving someone’s dreams, and Barbra and Enock are committed to realising all of them. 


Celebrations at UPA (Uganda Pioneers Association)

An exciting graduation day for the 9 attendees from UPA members who participated in the Train of Trainer course I delivered for them based on the Mondo DCT, where they mastered digital skills to spread the knowledge to other members in their communities. At the end of the training the participants not only received a hard and soft copy of the manual and slides to be able to train others, but also a shiny certificate… and a well deserved multi-layered super chocolate cake! They also managed to make my heart shrink to their words of appreciation and love towards the way I committed to their learning. I totally mirror these feelings and I feel most grateful, wishing them successful training ahead!


KDI - Kampala Disabled Initiative and Digital Competencies training meet

When two successful projects converge, you can only expect the best outcome. In this case, an explosion of kitenge fabrics, threads and needles, entrepreneurial skills, Insta stories and Canva posters. 

Here, thanks to my friend and EUAV colleague Sophie and her willingness to coordinate a training session with me, the ladies from KDI enjoyed digital skills tailored on their needs, focusing on marketing, social media for business and smartphone photography to promote their products, improve graphic design skills and create a digital poster for their shop’s reopening event in August. 

What it took was a smartphone donated by SUDHAV3 visibility budget, some internet data provided by microfinance and of course, an enduring source of passion and creativity. 

I’m really looking forward to their event coming up soon!




Online we fly

Last but not least, the heartwarming and successful Digital skills training to the young refugees at Windle International, who will be soon resettled to Canada. Before catching that fly towards a new life and new opportunities, we manage to meet them and train them for the first time fully online. After a needs assessment we decided to focus on what the learners would have rather improved, such as financial literacy, CV writing and online job search, as well as graphic design and social media for marketing purposes and all the Google tools such as Maps, Docs, Sheets and Slides, to make their way in a highly digitalized part of the globe being equipped with full competences.

40 learners living in different Refugee Settlements across Uganda, joined our 2 weeks newly developed course using a mix of Zoom meeting, online resources based on the DCT material, and assignments on Google Classroom. Once again, the magic was made by a good amount of internet data provided by microfinance, but mostly their commitment despite the challenges of living in a refugee settlement with limited resources. It was truly uplifting to see their amazing work and hear their feedback - I wish them to achieve all of their dreams. 


I will save you readers from my own story of travelling by bus from Uganda to Kenyan coast for my holiday with Felicia (EUAV)… but leaving you with a taste of it: the peace, the coconuts, the dolphins and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean was worth the 34 hours bus journey. Twice.
 

Friday, 1 July 2022

Halfway

Halfway 

Time flies in Uganda! It seems I arrived one week ago when it is already three months I am here. Halfway through my deployment with Ngo Mondo and UPA is completed.


These months have been challenging and plenty of discoveries. Firstly, I observed what was going on around me having an open mind for what was far from my comfort zone. I will never get used to being the center of attention because I am a white person, to bargain for prices, to be on the busy roads of Kampala and Ugandan time (30 min means 1 hour and a half).

 
New Taxi Park in Kampala.


On the other hand, I will always be amazed by the respect Ugandans have for their traditions and culture, how every woman is called Mama because she will take care of everyone in the village, and last but not least the quantity of matoke and beans you can eat in a week!


  
Traditional dance at Ndere Cultural Center.


Shelling beans.


Preparing matoke.



Library Workshop 

After reordering the school library, I designed a workshop about it. In June, Teachers attended the "How to enjoy our school Library" workshop under the mango tree, where the community gathers to have meetings. It was an opportunity to know better how their library works and share ideas and advice to renew their lessons using the books´ library to make their teaching methods more creative. Moreover, each upper class received a poster showing the library's aim, the rules on its use of it, and how they could best enjoy it. If students will be supported by their teachers on this new learning path, we could see an improvement in the reading culture of the school.


Attending the workshop under the mango tree.


Kikooba School Teachers.



Extra curricular activities

Accompanying and supervising extra-curricular activities are a big part of my work as EUAV in Kikooba Infant & Primary School. This month the school was invited to a friendly competition together with four neighboring schools at Masiriba School, our pupils worked hard and intensively to perform at their best.


Football & netball

No more details are needed to describe these two sports. These are the main ones you can practice in primary level schools. Traditionally, it would be more acceptable for boys to play football and for girls to play netball.  


Warm-up before the football match.

Netball match.


Athletics

When you don´t have the facilities and the items to practice race, relay race, and hurdles the only way is to be creative! Pieces of wood as batons, leaves of bananas as hurdles, and sticks to circumscribe the racetrack. Nevertheless, the stadium cheering for our athletes is not missing!


Cheering for our athletes.


Poem reading

Our English teacher wrote this amazing poem on "Elimination of harmful practices affecting children". After a moment of debating and sharing in the class, it was impressive how fast our pupils memorized it and were able to read it out in front of the audience.


Poem.


MDD (Music & Dance)

MDD was my favorite extra-school activity of the month. Teachers composed a song for their pupils and it was magic! Everything was perfect because we were surrounded by improvisation, music, nature, children´s happiness, and smiles.





Trip to Entebbe

Finally, my EUAV colleagues and I could enjoy Lake Victoria and the peaceful nature by which Entebbe is surrounded. 


Lake Victoria.


Moreover, I had the opportunity to visit the Children´s surgical hospital of Emergency, an Italian independent non-governmental organization, and I was like a child on Christmas day. As an Italian, I felt at home and proud of the work Emergency is doing to provide free, high-quality medical-surgical treatment to anyone in need. 




Visiting the Emergency Hospital.



Tuesday, 28 June 2022

When the curve goes up again

If you’ve ever attended one of these pre-deployment training you must remember the famous cultural adjustment curve. As months passed I was trying to identify where I was at, and after some health challenges I endured, I feel like I’m back on track moving towards my adjustment phase.

This has been a hectic month, and here I’m telling some of the amazing experiences I had.


Kibuli Primary Teachers’ College 

The MONDO team has delivered The Digital Competencies Training in many classes of Kibuli college, to future primary’s teachers. As my class was growing every day from 54 to 67 students, the attendees were becoming more and more interested and committed in learning the topics and less shy in speaking up. Creating a slide presentation, researching, making online forms, were few of the points we covered. Running around the class to make sure everyone was getting on with the group work, I could spot a few at times falling asleep on their desks. I enquired a bit on what may be the causes, and found out that the students wake up at 4 every morning. Before the classes start at 7, they’ve already cleaned up their own school, had breakfast and prayed. After classes are over around 5 PM, they have a number of extracurricular activities and prayers, going to bed around 11.30 PM. With such a loaded schedule and little sleep, no wonder they feel like taking a nap every now and then, which sadly prevents them from fully benefiting from their learning experience. However I could not believe how fast everyone was in catching up with topics they never heard of before. 

Another interesting notion I got to learn is that every meal they have posho and beans, a very typical Ugandan food. These two ingredients together, actually, are a super nutrient combo, even though perhaps a little tedious if eaten every day. Every time I discover such different school habits from what I’m used to, I think about how education is perceived in Uganda. It is such a privilege, such an empowering tool for the future, that none would dare complain about the chicken that remains a daydream dish. 



UPA cultural and central branches

A fantastic 5 sessions’ training took place at Uganda Pioneers Association (UPA), where I trained a group of 9 “ICT Assistants”, who, as active members of UPA cultural and central branches in Nansana, will take the responsibility to train others members later on, to ensure sustainability for the project. The course delivered is based on the Mondo Digital Competencies Training, with a focus on employment and empowering tools, such as financial literacy and use of social media for business, besides the basic digital learning and online safety. In this photo, one of the sub-groups was working on a business plan. The picture beside is my sophisticated attempt at explaining how to promote a product via Instagram posts, on a  power cut day! 



For World Refugee Day, Suzzy’s story 

This month I have also started collecting successful stories from our beneficiaries. It was such a privilege for me to get to speak with Suzzy, one of the ICT instructors at our partner’s organisation YARID (Young African Refugees for Integral Development), a Kampala based NGO. Founded in 2007 by a young Congolese refugee, it aims to empower refugees and Asylum Seekers in Uganda, through vocational skills training, English classes and sport, in order to tackle social issues such as unemployment, ethnic conflicts and lack of access to education amongst refugee youth and to enhance social inclusion. 


Suzzy is a 22 years-old woman from South-Sudan who has big dreams about her career in IT, programming, and teaching, as not only she is committed to keep learning, but also to make this field more accessible as she acknowledges how challenging it is for a refugee to pursue a formal education, and a career. Like her colleagues, Suzzy is an inspiration for other refugee youth and a role model for other women, and we, through the Digital Competencies Training were lucky enough to have collaborated with her. Stay tuned for the full story!




Re-discovering Ugandan local gems

With my health, I recovered the energy to get to do as much as I can when in a new country: this months I went again to visit Kampala’s craft markets (where I totally fell in love with the local hand-woven baskets), and the Ndere Centre, where I got glued to the stage to admire and and being captured by incredible traditional dances and music from different parts of Uganda. Watch the video below if you think you can handle seeing someone carrying a pile of ceramic pots whilst dancing away…



 

 

Finally, it cannot go unmentioned how amazing the surroundings of Kampala are. Just over an hour away by matatu is the beautiful lakeside town of Entebbe, where deep tropical nature, magic sceneries and warm relaxed vibes are.



I managed to make the weekend getaway, also a enriching experience workwise, as Felicia (another MONDO EUAV) and I visited the Children’s Surgical Hospital, set up by  Emergency NGO, a non governmental Italian organisation famous for building emergency hospitals in war zones, or healthcare excellences to hand over to the local staff once they’re self sustained. As an Italian, I grew up being proud of their work, and it was a dream for me to finally witness some if their achievements.



I am looking forward to seeing what July’s adventures await. Watch this space for more successful stories, trainings and well deserved graduations 😊🌴



Friday, 24 June 2022

Strenghtening relationships and early results

 After a few month, I started building stronger relationships and I could also notice the progress of the students, which is really encouraging!

Training in CEFOVID:

Every Wednesday afternoon, we organise a training session with CEFOVID (Community Empowerment For Village Development). The group is composed of 11 people (4 youth leaders, 3 teachers and 4 tailors). Until now, they have learned about digital safety, smartphone photography and videography, financial literacy and Google tools among other things. 
Having a small group is ideal for learning as we are able personalise the exercises depending on the skills they already have. 
We also see them progressing every week and some have already been able to use what they learned in their daily lives!

UPA Gulu Branch

I also came back to Gulu, to give the second training on digital competencies. On the picture, you can see us eating a Rolex for lunch. 

A rolex is a snack which consists in an omelette with onion and veggies rolled in a chapati, yummy!

We decided to eat under the mango tree to enjoy the shadow and while we were waiting for our meals, 3 mangos felt down the tree.

All we had to do was to eat them for dessert 😄😄


Training at Kibuli 

Then, we also started a training marathon in two teacher colleges. The idea is that we go there for three weeks and train both the students and their teachers in digital skills. We started the first week with Kibuli Primary Teacher College and we were impressed by the busy schedule of the students. Indeed, activities are planned for them from 5AM to 11PM. 
Despite this, students find the strength and energy to actively participate in our courses and it is a pleasure to be there to guide their learning. 

Looking forward to see them all graduating in a few weeks! 


Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Lugoro Tutte: a story of unity, strength, motivation, passion and heart.



Lugoro Tutte is one of the 3 groups I work with on the sustainable development project of tailoring businesses. They are based in Gulu, Northern Uganda. They are currently 12 active members participating to our activities. 

They have chosen "Lugoro Tutte" as their group name which in Acholi means "let people with disability struggle like everybody else." 
Their vision is to empower people with disability to stand on their own, to not be idle and have better lives. 
Their motto: Disability is not inability.

Mr Fidensio founded this group in 1993. They have grown in number until now and plan to help more and more people with disability in their city.
They are registered as a CBO in Gulu and have been organised with records, team and evaluation meetings. Which has enabled them to last until today. Their tailor shop consist of products like stuffed animal toys, tailoring of clothes, accessories and school uniforms, repairs, knitting sweaters, tailoring and knitting trainings. They also have skills in shoe making, bead work, hair dressing, charcoal business, arts and crafts, baking and liquid soap making which have helped them survive as a small business in the past. Covid 19 has unfortunately been a difficult period for them as orders were few and savings have mostly been used most for rent. 
Having said that, they are still standing with good spirit and motivation. 

We have worked together for 3 months using the Positive Deviance problem-solving approach for sustainable growth. This approach has been described in my previous posts. 

As of today, Lugoro Tutte's main goals are to:  
Strengthen confidence in the team members. (trauma, fear, marginalized, stigma…).
- Come together to show abilities.
- Change the attitude of others towards people with disabilities. 
- Empower economically, improve standard of living + livelihoods. 

Their goals go beyond the business itself as they wish to empower more and more people with disability to stand on their own. But first, they need to generate stable income for themselves and their business in order to reach those goals. 
We have now almost finished their short and long term action plan including smaller objectives, specific activities, responsible task persons, needed resources and desired outcomes. We will start our first training on marketing this month for them to structure their market analysis, decide on specific target clients and markets as well as on a clear marketing strategy to generate long term income and connections.


Ambition, Potential, Spirit and Strength


This team never ceases to surprise me.

They are very motivated and quick thinkers. We have done serious capacity building in the evaluation phase already. We were using the score card technique, I was guiding them with questions as they were scoring their team work and spirit, writing their score explanation and found solutions on the board.

It only took one move to make them do the whole process on their own. I said I wanted to get water in the nearest shop and asked one of them to write the answers on the board the way I have been doing while I am gone.

As I came back I didn't expect so much progress.

But here we had a great new facilitator already!

It was amazing to see how they grabbed the concept of the activity so easily and continued it on their own.

I then thought our new facilitator how to write ideas in shorter sentences, use the pen correctly and write in bold letters for everyone to read as well as asking the right questions to get complete answers.


Another activity was to interview successful tailoring groups around the city to get solutions based on behavioral changes for Lugoro Tutte to overcome their challenges. I went with them to one of the groups to show them the outcome I expected from this activity for them to make the most of it. Asked them to do the remaining 4 visits without me, report to me with pictures and videos as well as specific solutions.

Which they did very well and for the anticipated deadline.

I am impressed with their motivation, teamwork and organization, also having the skills to carry out activities planned together on their own. It is not expected to be easily done because the approach is one they have never worked with before.

On top of that, they are very grateful for the type of work we are doing and the skills they are getting. They told me no one has worked in that holistic way with them before and they are getting serious tools for sustainable work. They are convinced and already seeing how the work we are doing together will help them in the long term. 

They impress me every time with their spirit and qualities. I am grateful to have the opportunity to work alongside them and help them with their business growth and goal reaching. They really have the heart for their project. Which is motivating for me as well.