Uganda, Africa

UGA02b - Pangani School Development, Kween: Partnership Reports



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Report Date: September 9, 2019

Report from BHW Uganda Partnership Facilitators Following Visit

great couple Key people:  James and Gorret Mayende  

We had a very interesting day in Kween. We went out early in the morning and spent a full day there reviewing what is happening. We met with around 25 of the people associated with the school and church. They are mainly local people but there were also a few Hema people from Mbarara and Rwanda. 

Recent Events

Conflicts

Last year we reported on some real problems with the church and school and the land conflicts which have been very destructive of the community. Those issues have had significant ramifications. Effectively the school has been taken over by the chairman of the former school committee who has some actual claim to the underlying land and refuses to acknowledge that the land had been provided for the school and the church. We also reported on a local leader who had been imprisoned unjustly for 18 months because he had challenged the theft of the land. He has now been released.  

new siteChurch

As a result of the conflicts mentioned above, the church has now moved from the previous site to a new site. The photos to the right and below are of the new church which was built by the community in two weeks. 

This site is secure. It has titles and is about 4 acres in size. It is about 500m from the old school site. James has purchased this and has title to it.  

The church on the old site is still operating but with only about 10-15 people. The new church has 60-80 adults plus children. 

School

new churchThe school has remained on the old site but is failing. James has not been involved in supporting the school and it appears that it has been effectively coopted by some of the local leadership. 

However the old school roll has dropped significantly and the local people want James to establish a new school on the new site. The materials have been purchased in anticipation of this and James has used this year’s support for this purpose. 

We had a lengthy discussion with James and Gorret on what is happening here. Despite the setbacks they are not giving up. All the good teachers at the existing school want to move to the new school, which will be erected between now and the end of the year. 

There will be 10 classrooms (built of the same materials as the church), three nursery and seven primary. James has the materials ready to go. There will be approximately 200 or more pupils. Support is also needed for materials and desks because the owners of the old school site and church have kept everything. The support will also help with salaries for the teachers and we understand that 15 will be needed because of the numbers of subjects. The District Education Officer is in favour and supports it too. 

Trees

James has had an offer from a Dutch NGO to provide mango trees for the community. Previously BHW had supported the provision of trees here. Some of the previously provided trees are doing well and several of the members of the new church reported that their trees were healthy and thriving. The trees are not free but there has been funding to partially support the provision of 300 more disease resistant local, non grafted trees. So there does not need to be any provision for trees in next year's budget.

Prison Ministry

The prison ministry which was effective is still continuing. Interestingly James is working with members of the old church to continue this. 

Pangani Women's Association

The new church has set up Pangani Women’s Association which is registered. A Dutch NGO is to supply two sewing machines and also teach some women how to make sanitary pads using local materials. 

 

Personal Stories

elder in churchTime did not allow us to get specific interviews. However we did visit with Juliet who is the leading elder in the new church. She is originally from Mbarara but her and her husband came to Kween as they are cattle people. It was lovely to experience their hospitality in their home and to see how energetic and focussed they were. It was also our first experience of smoke flavoured fermented milk! An experience to be remembered, but possibly not repeated! Juliet was very articulate and it is clear that the community around the new church are very focussed on benefiting their community. 

 

Partnership's Influence within the Community

communityThis was very difficult to establish beyond the church members. However the quite large group which came was very articulate and wanting to see the church and school prosper on the new site. It is extremely difficult out here to determine the level of progress from visit to visit. My view is that James’ decision to purchase the new land, which has no wrangles, and also the moving of the church and school will produce positive benefits for this community, particularly if tied in with skills development. 

 

Ideas for the Future

Brick Making Business

We had discussions about income generation and talked about the possibility of a brick making business. This is an idea with real merit. Originally this was going to involve the prisoners at the local prison who on release often cannot go back to their homes. However, the prison manager has been transferred and, although the prison ministry is still continuing and a brick making business would provide employment for some ex-prisoners, this is probably better done under the auspices of the church. James and Gorret’s son Solomon is investigating appropriate equipment for this possibility and likely costs. In our preliminary discussion it seemed as if the total cost would be very reasonable. 

James is going to provide a budget for this and we think that it should be considered. The reasons why it is a good idea are:
• It will provide employment and will help with skill development for young people.
• There are no other brick making businesses between Soroti (40km south) and Moroto (about 30 km north). The demand is there and if there is a good business plan it should be profitable. It also does not need electricity.
• One issue is readily available water and we talked about the location of a proposed business. Ideally it should be near the well but the well is not presently functioning. It is not clear what is wrong with the well and James is arranging for an engineer who is a foreign missionary and who lives in Moroto to look at it and advise, as well as getting the original installer to advise. He will let us know the likely repair cost. James also wants the church position to stabilise before starting anything relating to brick making and made it clear to the people that any development would take time.
• It would employ 15-20 people and would make around 1000-3000 bricks per day. 

 

Skills Development

Another key conversation that we had with James and Gorret over our days together was around skills development. We talked about the change in focus from academic education to vocational training but James and Gorret initiated a conversation around skills development as a slightly different alternative. This is where young people are ‘apprenticed’ or similar to artisans who teach them their skills. They may have to pay something but they learn from the artisan. They do not come out with a formal qualification but are able to sustain themselves and then can make decisions about further training from a position of already being able to provide their own livelihood. 

The precedent for this focus was explained by Gorret. A few years ago they trained 10 young women in tailoring skills on the verandah of their house in Buhoya. Most of those are continuing and supporting themselves in their various locations. 

 

Prayer and Praise Points

1) That the conflicts which plague this community would abate and there would be sufficient peace in the community to enable the new school and church to develop and thrive.
2) That the transition to the new site would be succcessful.
3) That the initiatives towards income generation, which also involves skills training would be successful. We think this is an awesome plan.

 

Comments

Having journeyed thus far in Kween it would be good to continue and we do not think that we should be stopping the support now. In fact the brick making business possibility is one which might help the school if the profit from it were channeled there. Patience is definitely needed though, and we should commit to journeying with James and Gorret out here into the foreseeable future. There do not seem to be any other significant outside influences or support into this community.

We recommend the budget remains the same but without the allocation for the trees. We also suggest leaving an allocation for the prison ministry as per previously, but with the proviso that it will only be sent if James indicates that it is running again appropriately.