Uganda Village Project update October 2014

image of some the people from the village involved in making furniture

At the fellowship lunch held on 28th August 2014 at Northampton Meeting, Alex Gyabi updated us on progress with the Uganda Village project which aims to provide skills and experience to young unemployed people in the Manafwa district of Uganda.

Since the start of the project in 2012, £730 has been raised directly by Northampton Meeting, which has been supplemented by a grant from QPSW, bringing the total to around £4,730.

This level of funding, and the desire to ensure proper governance, has resulted in the Butta Furniture Development Association, the registered charity set up by Alex, to establish a committee of three trustees, one of which is Alex.

Alex explained the need to provide good control of the finances on the project, especially as £4,730 translates to over 20 million Ugandan shillings. This is over 8 times the annual salary of a primary school teacher in Uganda. Handling of money in Uganda is also a concern and the charity is providing strict financial control by buying all materials directly and having them delivered to the project in small quantities so that they are used immediately.

image of group of people from the Ugandan Village and furniture produced by the project

The project was set up to improve the employability of young people through carpentry skills and experience of working in a small business. Great progress has been made and 25 – 30 young people are involved in making furniture. The tools being used were provided by Tools for Self Reliance (Northampton) and the carpentry skills have been taught by a local craftsman.

The success of the carpentry activities has provided an impetus to expand the project to include general building skills. This, along with the need to have a workshop to house the carpentry activities, has resulted in a project to build an extension to the local primary school.

This new building will provide a new classroom/workshop and office. It is to be built on land given by the primary school and will be used as a classroom during the day and a workshop at other times. This is a valuable asset for both the carpentry business and the school, which currently has around 1000 primary school students and 7 classrooms.

The focus is very much on transferring skills to young people. The architectural drawings for the new classroom and office have been produced by a member of the village under the guidance of an architectural company and have been submitted for approval.

The building, a permanent asset for the village, will be built to last having a cement floor, iron sheet roof and brick walls. The bricks are already being made by young people of the village after being trained in the process. The raw materials for the bricks are being dug from local land that has been hired from the owner and the bricks will be fired using timber from local trees.

This raised environmental issues and special attention is being paid to minimise the impact on the local environment. The hole left by digging the earth for bricks is to be replaced by manure from local sources, and for every tree cut down to fire the bricks ten new ones will be planted, which will all be local species.

We were impressed by the progress that has been made and the thought, care and planning that has gone into the project. Alex explained how this project is important for the village because while free primary school education is now available to all in Uganda, only 50% of children go on to secondary school education and many leave the villages to live in towns, but are ill equipped to find employment.

We would like to thank Alex for giving us such a detailed update and it was inspiring to see how our fundraising efforts can make a real difference to young people.