Message Board

New Topic 

Subject Author Replies Last Post (CST)
Micro Finance Project in Uganda Karen LaFrance 3
9/3 9:06 AM by Karen LaFrance

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The African Rural Schools Foundation is a grassroots educational project in Uganda. The mission of the African Rural Schools Foundation is to upgrade the literacy, economy, health and well-being of African citizens by providing affordable schools for disadvantaged children in rural areas and emotional support for students who are affected or orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

 

PROJECT HISTORY

The African Rural Schools Foundation is a grassroots educational project in Uganda. The mission of the African Rural Schools Foundation is to upgrade the literacy, economy, health and well-being of African citizens by providing affordable schools for disadvantaged children in rural areas and emotional support for students who are affected or orphaned by HIV/AIDS. See website for details: http://www.africanruralschools.org/index.htm

 

WOMEN’S INVOLVEMENT

5 of 17 teachers are women. Governance: three of six Board members are women. Of the 400 students, 65% are female.

 

PLANNING PROCESS

The teachers, students and villagers identify a problem; to solve it, they turn to the partners such as Dr. Waun. When it was determined that students were getting malaria in 2008, Dr. Waun made the contact with Against Malaria Foundation. She states: “Rather than our contracting to create these repellant-treated bed nets at $10.00 apiece, which I researched, I looked on the Web for a potential partner already providing nets in African countries. It just so happened that I found Against Malaria Foundation. And they were about to deliver nets to Uganda, to an area very near the Rural Schools Foundation site! So we formed a partnership with them and acquired 2000 nets for less than $5.00 apiece.” Planning for the future comes from needs identified in the village. Thus the plan to build a vocational school has emerged as priority. A property has been identified because an opportunity arose to purchase it. The challenge in a youthful organization that jumps at opportunities is that those opportunities may create further challenges.

 

EVALUATION PROCESS

informal and immediate feedback loop in community.

 

EVALUATION RESULTS

Test scores by children in the school are high and place the school amongst the “top ten schools in the country of Uganda” (where school attendance by children of any age is not required). The 2000 bed nets protect not only the children enrolled but their families, especially pregnant women and other children. The villagers are “very pleased with the school” because with education, the whole family’s economic circumstance is improved as well as pride.

 

GRASSROOTS ACCOUNTABILITY

Village persons are on the Board of the Foundation; the founder is local. The Board is learning about rotating different local leadership onto the Board.

 

SUSTAINABILITY PLAN

Financially, the families that can pay for school do so, apparently this covers most operational costs including some of the costs of those who cannot pay. Some of the kids not able to pay have sponsors. Barter is used as especially in the construction of school buildings. When contemplating the budget in 2004, the Board wanted to drop its initiative on AIDS; Dr. Waun and Mr. Bulime explained that that was not possible as it is part of the mission. The Board has “evolved” since then, says Dr. Waun. Regarding funds from outside Uganda, Dr. Waun has set up a system with debit cards to get American dollars to the project. The East Suburban UU Church near Pittsburgh is receiving all monetary donations for transfer to Uganda so that contributions are fully tax-deductible in the USA. Says Dr. Waun: “Unlike other initiatives, 100% of all donations go to the Foundation; there is no administrative fee and we who travel there and work with the Foundation self-support.” Three additional UU Churches, Ohio Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Bellaire, Ohio, First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh and UU Fellowship of Ligonier Valley in Western PA are sponsors and raise funds for the initiative. According to Dr. Waun, the Foundation has set a goal to construct a vocational school and has identified property for this next phase. The Foundation completed one Leadership Training in 2006 and has tried to do entrepreneurship training (which was cancelled in 2008) through contacts made by Dr. Waun at the United Nations and corporations. This partnership has been unsatisfactory. A recent training (February 2009) focused on Board leadership and Board member turnover policies. Asset growth is part of the plan for the Foundation. Four acres of ground next door to the school is available, potentially for the building of teachers’ dorms. Purchase of the original property, offered to the school rent-free by the landlord in 2004, is imminent. Finally, 5 acres in nearby jungle has been identified for the “vocational training institute”.