Month 1

It has been one month since arriving in Budondo, Uganda and time has already flown by. I have, officially:

  • learned the Lusoga greeting — it’s about 1 minute long and sounds like a song
  • survived 2 very bad sunburns
  • cooked some of the typical Ugandan dishes including posho and matooke
  • found a reliable source of wifi; aside from the 3G network underneath the mango tree
  • and even managed to get malaria and typhoid.. at the same time.

These experiences challenged me, humbled me and ultimately taught me so much. While there have been times this past month when I thought, “am I really cut out for this?”, I’m happy to say I persevered and am even more excited to continue this journey. I promise to write more blog posts soon on cultural topics, but for now, would like to dedicate this post to The Budondo Intercultural Center (Bi Centre) and all the projects happening in the community.

To provide a little more perspective on what the Bi Centre does and their mission, please see the diagram below which Denis, the Program Manager, and I created this past month.

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 6.45.33 PM

The Bi Centre has three programs: The Suubi Health Center; The Population, Health, and Environment (PHE); and the BI Centre Sustainability Plans. Their mission is to empower individuals and families to lead healthy and productive lives. All three programs work together in such cool ways. The PHE program is designed to empower households and individuals through trainings that will proivde them with knowledge and skills to be makers of change in their community. The Sustainability Plans would employ several individuals in the community and on top of that, would generate income to support the operational costs of Suubi Health Center. Lastly, Suubi Health Center will ensure that the community receives quality health care services and save lives.

As you know, I am fundraising 20K to fund the various projects happening at the Bi Centre so I’d like to provide a breakdown of where that money is going. By the way, I have $3,732 left to reach my goal of 20K so I’m not quite there yet!

  • 13K will go towards the expansion of the Suubi Health Center – this includes construction and completion of the Health Care Workers Quarters AND temporary Maternity Ward

This expansion is urgent because Suubi Health Center only has 4 beds to accommodate a team of 19 — and growing — and an influx of patients ranging from 6-20 per day.

Some may be wondering why I say “temporary” maternity ward. Since being here, I’ve come to learn that the Mukisa family dream is to have Regional Hospital providing quality care to Luuka District — a region of over 58 villages — but as you can imagine, this is very costly and they simply do not have the funds to accomplish this goal (although we are working on it). Therefore, the money I am fundraising will go towards a temporary maternity ward consisting of 3 large rooms to cater to post-natal, antenatal and children of 5 years old or younger. The goal is to have this temporary maternity ward contain 22 beds. This would solve the issue of having an influx of patients and no beds available. Once the funds for the Regional Hospital are received and construction is completed, the temporary maternity ward will then be converted to additional health care worker’s quarters and a space for a restaurant to provide food to patients, visitors and healthcare workers at the hospital. Understanding the urgency of this project, I am happy to say that thanks to your donations, construction of the Health Care Workers Quarters and temporary Maternity Ward will start this month! We are also working on establishing relationships/applying to grants to fund the Regional Hospital. If you have any advice please send me an email at juliasmith1212@gmail.com. 

  • 5K will go towards the implementation of the PHE Program

As the Bi Centre aims to support families who will be visiting Suubi Health Center – the PHE program will empower the individuals and families to be able to afford the health care services and raise their standard of living. The PHE program is in its very beginning phase (the first training was this past weekend!) and will start with 16 pilot families. The families will learn skills on how to diversify their farm, maintain a clean household and also provide them with knowledge on how to live sustainably so that they can continue on this path and teach other families the same skills; empowering them to empower others.

  • 2K will go towards the Bi Centre Sustainability Plans

The BI Centre Sustainability Plans are a set of projects focused on I) income generation for the organization to support its own operational costs and II) establishing income generating activities at a household level. Some of the projects include a

  • Permagarden Project
  • Film Hall Project
  • Transportation Project

The permagarden project will yield maize, beans, green pepper, soy, eggplant, & watermelon which will be sold to the markets. The film hall project provides a place to have educational programs as well as daily movie showings for the community. The transportation project will employ individuals in the village to be motorcycle taxi drivers (referred to in Uganda as Boda Boda drivers). The three of these programs will bring income to support the operational costs of the Bi Centre as well as empower individuals in the community by providing jobs.

So how can you help? We are currently in need of funding the irrigation system to water the permagarden and plan to purchase two motorcycles to employ the first two individuals of the transportation project!

Interested in helping bring these projects to life? Make a donation here (give.classy.org/juliabic). 


In the most recent weeks I have connected the BI Center with organizations and individuals who are interested in helping; which has been amazing! Suubi even received a visit from French Montana, the U.S. Rapper who interviewed us on the progress of the projects. I have also been familiarizing myself with every aspect of the organization to provide insight when it is appropriate. A major project I have taken on is organization (which we all know I love) – organization of reports, accounting documents, and ensuring all information of the BIC can be passed on in a seamless way to organizations/volunteers who are interested in helping. Denis, the Program Manager, and I are very excited for things to fall into place as the organization establishes itself to be self-sustainable! I look forward to keeping you all updated with a ‘Month 2’ update.

Please feel free to send me an email at juliasmith1212@gmail.com with any comments, questions or to just chat about the projects.

Julia

IMG_0410
French Montana Visiting Suubi Health Center
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